Lured by the attractive proposition that e-retail has to offer, many corporate honchos in India are leaving the perks and comforts of a stable job to become their own bosses by joining the online retailing bandwagon. According to these corporates, entrepreneurship not only gives them the opportunity to chart their careers the way they want to, but also the freedom to experiment and innovate in their fields of specialisation.
According to the Indian e-Retail Report 2012 launched by Franchise India, the Indian e-retail segment is slated to touch the Rs 7,000 crore mark by mid 2012. Experts believe India's e-commerce market is expected to grow from $10 billion in 2011 to $200 billion by 2020. Furthermore, nearly $350 million has been pumped into 40 e-commerce startups till the end of 2011, compared to $43 million invested in 11 companies in 2009.
Hitting the nail
The industry is looking lucrative and this is the right time to hit the nail. “This is the best time to become an intrapreneur (entrepreneur manager) or entrepreneur in India, so if a professional ever aspired for that, it is the right time to take the plunge because the whole ecosystem now supports start ups with good ideas. I have moved on from being a professional manager to an intrapreneur, thereby moving much closer to entrepreneurship,” says Anurag Rajpal, Director & CEO, Four Cross Media Services Private Ltd.
Rajpal quit his job as the Head of Beverly Hills Polo Club in India to start off his own lifestyle online retail portal. “It is a start up venture and will take about six months time to go live. It will be in the lifestyle space and I will use all my experience in the Indian textile/garment/fashion/brand/retail industry of last decade and a half.” he adds.
Arun Sirdeshmukh, who put his papers at Reliance Trends as Chief Executive, now plans to launch an e-fashion store for the Indian consumers. He says, “The Indian e-retail industry still lacks what could be a qualitative online shopping experience. I want to bring to consumers a portal, which will give them the right options to choose from. Right now, we are in a stage of putting together all the things we have worked upon together – website, backend, logistics, products, etc. The website is likely to be up by the end of April.”
Sirdeshmukh has been a part of big names, including Madura Garments, Reliance Trends and Indus League Clothing, a brand which was bought by Future Group in 2005. He worked with these brands when they were mere start ups and moved them up to what they are now. “So,” he adds, “I have a fair understanding of challenges that come across in a start up along with the fact that I have been in the apparel industry all through my career. Moreover, such challenges keep me excited and this gives me all the more reason to start off my own venture.”
The new venture will be started off in collaboration with a US-based company and has received funding from two VC partners, details of which remain undisclosed.
The third in this arena is Manoj Kumar, who from being the CEO of eZone, Future Group, has now moved to start off his own e-commerce business, edabba.com. This is a one-of-its kind e-commerce portal, which is reaching out to rural India via mobile applications, branded kiosks in partner local shops termed as Trust Points and local cable television advertisement.
Though something unique, he doesn’t really want to call this portal as niche. “Our portal is not for the niche; it is for everyone in Bharat and that is why our positioning is "Bharat Ka Online Mall". We see our business growing multifold and going places as we have a inclusive commerce model,” says Kumar, Co-founder and CEO of edabba.com.
“We are very different from the other e-retail portals, as we are roping in local partners for building trust between e-dabba and the consumer, as well as allowing people, who are not well versed with technology, to reap the benefits of e-retail through these local e-dabba trust points,” he adds.
Hopes running high
As of now, the rapidly-growing Indian e-retail market occupies only a small portion of the complete retail industry in India. It still has a long way to go, and these top honchos turning e-retailers have seized this opportunity at the right time, thus getting enough room to grow and use their expertise in a right way.
“The Indian e-retail market has a long way to go in terms of understanding the nuances. Though it is growing in terms of volume as well as popularity, a significant amount of work still needs to be done in the segment. I believe soon there will be a day, when buying online will become a habit with Indians,” says Sirdeshmukh.
“A good launch pad is already there provided by VCs, PEs and the existing players. It can only go up from here. There will be a lot of start-up ventures coming across categories; there will be mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, and there will be fall-outs as well. However, the future looks extremely bright and there is a serious chance of creating multi-million dollar corporations in a short span of time.
E-commerce or e-tailing would create further growth opportunities for existing players and will also encourage the creation of new businesses across consumer categories in a very short span of time,” says Rajpal.
Kumar says, “I think for a country like India, e-retail holds a very promising future, but it cannot be through a copy-paste model of the West; we need to innovate as per our customers’ requirements.”