E-retail holds immense promise for future. Its retail experience will be distinctly different from brick & mortar with the advancement of technology. It’s part of retail evolution that no retailer can deny. The sector is young, the business is catching up fast and the space is swarmed with players who are too new. Our initial plan was to cover 50 top e-retailers, but lack of credentials trimmed down the coverage and we could only select the topmost 20 players in India.
Numerous complaints on the Internet are glaring examples to show how the sector is yet to elicit trust of the consumers. Largely, we have taken into consideration the quality of the service, customers' feedback, the infrastructure, the USP of the retail concept besides business size while choosing the brand. For us the survey is a learning experience that has unraveled the vulnerability of the sector which is currently experiencing speedy growth.
IS E-RETAIL A BUBBLE?
E-retail, which occupies the miniscule share of the Indian retail pie, is galloping fast. The media buzz around has made this sector vivacious, but amidst this ballyhoo there is a stark reality that questions the very basic of any business operation: PROFITABILITY. The boom can burst, if it's missing. TIME TO CHECK OUT.
Online Buying Behaviour
While looking at the buying behaviour of the online shoppers, we observe that low engagement shoppers make up 40 per cent of the shoppers. While 35 per cent online shoppers are sitting on the fence and have medium engagement into online retail. Although High engagement shoppers are a significant 25 per cent, the highest growing segment is low engagement shoppers. This indicated that more and more of shopper are entering the eRetail space. The key is to keep them engaged for high frequency as well as higher
WHAT’S DRIVING E-RETAIL IN INDIA?
According to Venakatesh Peddi, Principal, IDG Ventures India, there are three drivers of e-retail in India today:
n The increasing demand for aspirational and lifestyle products by the growing middle class
n The lack of retail infrastructure, especially in semi-urban regions
n Growing digital awareness and comfort with transacting online.
Today, bigger brands are not dithered by poor distribution network as listing on any national e-retail can ensure the reach out to the customer staying at the remote corner of the country. Harish Bijoor, Brand-Expert & CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, resonates with Peddi's positive outlook: “My excitement for e-commerce relating to rural markets is through a mix of a cusp approach of tele-shopping and e-commerce. Both need to go together hand in hand as we open up markets fast and quick.” In India, e-retail has the scope to improvise its services mastering existing home delivery or last mile connectivity demonstrated perfectly by umpteen number of kirana stores for years.
INVESTMENT COMING SO EASY
The traction factor for investors to put their money in e-retail is that the online retail is demonstrating business growth of double digit; there is rapid penetration of the internet; and the growing trust building by the e-retailers with the introduction of COD (Cash on Delivery) is another big impetus. Navin Honagudi, Associate, Kae Capital, informs, “An early stage VC funding company, like Kae Capital, invests in e-retail companies to look for substantial ROI within a time frame of 5-6 years, after which the investor looks forward to exit. Usually, gestation period of e-retailers are supposed to be 7-6 years.” Contrary to what some may believe, e-retail is a very long-term business. Most of the successful players globally have taken anywhere between 6 to 10 years to achieve profitability. Peddi comments, “Our time frame for achieving returns, like other segments, is longer-term oriented at about 5 to 7 years, depending on the stage at which we enter into the business. Given the growth potential, especially in the Indian context, we expect the ROI in e-retail to be higher than other sectors. The risk is also higher, as execution is critical to success in e-retail. This 'high risk-high return' profile perfectly matches the venture capital investment strategy.”
Flipkart.com | Binny Bansal
Established in October 2007 by two youngsters, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, Flipkart is fast gaining dominance in 11 product categories like books, music, video, games, computers, electronics, mobile phones, TV and home theatre systems, pens and stationery, healthcare and personal product categories.
Flipkart has also made foray into the emerging digital content market with the recent launch of Flyte, its digital music store. Flipkart has a registered user base of more than 2.6 million customers across the country. With a team of around 4500 members, the company operates from offices and warehouses in seven cities at present. The retailer has a 30 day replacement policy to take care of damaged or faulty products post-delivery.
The highest selling item: Book sales contribute 60% of its total sales in terms of volumes. In terms of value or revenue, mobiles and electronics are doing very well. In this category, mobiles are the hottest items followed by laptops and cameras.
Branding & marketing: Occasional tie ups for joint promotions and new product launches, using of social media and emails, besides print ads and TV campaigns
No. of warehouses: Seven warehouses in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune and Noida.
Technology used: In-house technology which is highly scalable. Open Source technologies as the base platform (Linux, MySql, MemCached, and a lot more).
Payment gateway: Credit card, debit cards and net banking, hugely popular Cash/Card on Delivery option. Introduced “Flipkart Wallet” last year, a solution which works like a prepaid credit system that enables customers to store money in their Flipkart account, offering the convenience of making payment once and shopping multiple times.
Ebay India | Muralikrishnan B
Ebay India, India’s leading e–commerce marketplace, is India’s largest online shopping website where thousands of Indian entrepreneurs and brands list a wide range of products across electronics, lifestyle, collectibles and media categories.
Ebay India, India’s leading online marketplace, is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Ebay, The World’s Online Marketplace.
Today, Ebay India has an over three million strong community from across 3,311 cities in India across all 28 states and seven union territories. Users from cities as diverse as Agartala to Tirupur buy and sell on the site.
More than 23,000 sellers sell on Ebay India daily across 2,000 categories of products including lifestyle, media, collectibles and electronics. At any given time, there are over 2.5 million live listings on Ebay India.
Services: Ebay has two unique services called eBay Guarantee and PaisaPay. These services ensure safety and transparency and aid in enhancing trust levels
Growth rate: Ebay India is growing faster than the industry growth rate of 70 per cent YoY. Globally, net revenues totalled $ 1.7 billion in Q4 2011 (Oct-Dec).
Customer base: On an average, 25 to 30 per cent of Ebay’s consumers are women and this number is growing significantly
Number of visitors: Ebay India is estimated to get four million unique visitors in a month
Snapdeal.com | Kunal Bahl
Launched in February 2010, Snapdeal.com is the leading online marketplace for products and services, featuring a wide range of products and services across an array of categories from thousands of national, international and regional brands. Ebay India,
Snapdeal is 1,000-plus people strong and is the largest e-commerce retailer of local merchant deals, watches, sunglasses, jewellery, perfumes, personal care, among other categories in India, shipping 25,000 units everyday. Snapdeal.com has a network of more than 50,000 small and large retailers and brands, and has over 15 million members. One out of every 7 internet users in India is subscribed on Snapdeal, and the company is adding over a million new subscribers per month.
Branding and Marketing: Multiple channels across online and offline media to promote and communicate products and services
Number of Warehouses: One huge warehouse in Gurgaon and smaller ones in other cities of operation
Technology Used: Numerous algorithms developed by in-house team
Payment Gateway: Debit cards, credit cards and cash on delivery
Customer Profile: Men and women from all parts of the country, in the age group of 18-45 years
jabong.com | manu kumar jain
Growing at rocket speed
Jabong.com is the one-stop-shop for all fashion and lifestyle needs for customers in India. It offers the latest fashion trends, and this practice is supported by an intense survey across the globe.
Jabong's offerings include a wide assortment of fashion and lifestyle brands across categories such as apparel, accessories, footwear, home & living, sports wear, and many more. On Jabong.com, a consumer can also compare across brands, styles, colours and pricing. Jabong.com delivers within 48 hours in top 10 cities. For other cities, it could vary from one to three days. Jabong.com has fashion stylists who are there to guide its consumers on their prospective purchase.
The company was formed towards the end of 2011. The website went live in the beginning of 2012.
E-retailers are not entitled for FDI, though there is substantial amount of foreign funding in the sector, which according to the policy is illegal.
Going by the trend it can be concluded that e-retail today is passing through high voltage track. The growth speed is enormous, something going up to 500% year-on-year. Is there any high risk of being blown up only to burst at the end? Is there any chance of dot com bubble revisited? Honagudi comments, “Yes, within this period of 6-7 years there will be filtration and several business dropouts. Those who will successfully balance the rapid growth and rising profitability will survive. Presently main focus for these e-retailers is grabbing the market share instead of profitability.”
E-retail is not being built on solid foundation of retail legacy. This is echoed in the words of Harminder Sahni, Founder and Managing Director, Wazir Advisor, as he says, “Most of e-retailers are people from non retail, not even consumer products background. Either they have background in technology or else in e-commerce. For a solid business foundation, one will need the right team that has relevant experience of consumer understanding, branding and retail.”
“Early pioneers and early settlers in this space are still grappling with early-stage issues. In the bargain categories, many are doing disservice by offering faulty delivery mechanisms, faulty service and more. This can negate effort for a brisk pace of growth. E-commerce evangelists of today need to behave like evangelists. They need to set the standards and set the bar high in terms of credibility, service and follow-up,” opines Bijoor. “There is going to be a fund-Darwinism at play. Only the fittest will survive. The bargain categories do look like the dotcom bubble categories did, but that is the reality of transition in any space that is funded by PE funds. To overcome all this, PE funds need to believe in research at the consumer end before making key investment decisions,” he adds. Recently the situation has turned serious as DIPP has clarified that B2C e-retail will have to follow the same FDI rules as organised retail in India, which makes most of the PE funding done so far illegal. “They are promoting copy cats models that have been successful in the West,” comments Sahni.
Homeshop18.com | Sundeep Malhotra
Growth so commendable!
The pioneer in introducing virtual retail in India, Homeshop18 has been going great guns with the launch of its e-commerce venture, Homeshop18.com. Its manifold growth rate has put this portal in the leaders’ league.
HomeShop18 is India’s first 24 hour home shopping channel from the Network18 group. With its e-commerce venture, HomeShop18.com, the company is now focusing on building a superior online shopping destination through continuous product portfolio expansions. Homeshop18 re-launched the website in February 2011; HomeShop18.com is India’s fastest growing e-commerce website (traffic growing at the rate of 300 per cent YoY) with a monthly reach of over 2.5 million unique visitors (ComScore: October 2011), each spending over seven minutes (on an average.) on the website. Adding a new customer every six seconds, HomeShop18’s robust distribution set-up helps it reach out to over 3,000 locations across the country.
Brands & SKUs: Showcasing more than 350 brands and over 10 million SKUs
Best categories: Best selling categories include electronics, household appliances, gadgets and jewellery
Repeat customers: 30 percent repeat customers
Turnover: The parent company has recorded a turnover in excess of `800 crore in FY 2011 - 2012
User traffic:User traffic growing at 400 per cent y-o-y
Warehouses: 11 warehouses in 2011
and plan for tripling the same in the current year
Indiatimes Shopping | Gautam Sinha
Pushing the growth horizon
Indiatimes Shopping, a part of Times of India Group, is one of the largest horizontal ecommerce platforms in India with presence in most relevant categories like mobiles, electronics, books, appliances, fashion etc.
Indiatimes Shopping has been one of the market leaders for the past 10 years and continues to evolve and innovate with time. The company has recently changed its business model, moving away from pure marketplace model to setting up its own warehouses and providing manufacturer warranty instead of seller warranty. The company also launched Nokia's exclusive online shop in India at nokia.indiatimes.com, and is doing a brisk business through that channel. Having placed bets across multiple channels and categories, an experience of more than a decade in Indian e-commerce and the trust and support of the Times Group makes Indiatimes Shopping a strong contender for leading position in this space.
Myntra.com | Mukesh Bansal
Myntra was founded in Feb 2007 in the product personalisation space. It later repositioned itself as an online retailer for the latest fashion and lifestyle products.
Myntra.com is among the top
e-commerce companies in India and is the largest online retailer of fashion and lifestyle products. Myntra has tied up with leading fashion and lifestyle brands in the country, such as Nike, Reebok, Puma, Lee, Levis, Pepe, Wrangler, Flying Machine, Arrow, Provogue, Jealous 21, Biba, Being Human, UCB, US Polo, Esprit, Fastrack, etc to offer a wide range in the latest branded fashion and lifestyle wear. The largest in-season product catalogue, 100% authentic product, cash on delivery and 30 day return policy, make Myntra one of the preferred online shopping destinations in India.
Why click for brick? The reasons
• To tap youngsters
• For convenience of the consumers
• To enhance repeat customers
• A part of brand building exercise
• To leverage its long term value
• It’s not a revenue earning source
Retailers on e-retail
The trend what I observe is that customers are visiting Liberty store to see and feel the product and placing online orders from their home. Liberty expects to sell 50 pairs everyday, which will amount to almost `5 crore in a year.
We don’t see this site as the revenue earning source which contributes approximately .5% of total turnover. Having the site is rather a part of brand building exercise. It’s an extension of the business for the future prospective.
We have a good mix of clientele – 5-10% international; 30% from places where we’re not present; and 70% from places where we’re present. Though the format contributes approximately 1% of the turnover, it cannot be ignored in today’s perspective. It’s like laying foundation for future prospect. Since the business is not substantial so far, the inventory management is of single sourcing and integrated with the inventory of physical stores.
Crazeal.com | Ankur Warikoo
Crazeal.com is the Indian unit of Groupon Inc., the world’s largest daily deals site present in 45 countries. Groupon entered India through the acquisition of SoSasta.com in January 2011. In October 2011, SoSasta was rebranded to Crazeal.com to give consumers irresistible offers from local favourites and premium merchants. Crazeal offers deals to consumers across 17 cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune, and Hyderabad amongst others. Its national deals now reach over 78 cities in India.
Infibeam.com | Vishal Mehta
Categories on expansion
Infibeam was founded in May 2007 and the site Infibeam.com was launched in early 2008. It started as an online book retailer, but over time it’s business interests expanded.
Infibeam has two key lines of business. Internet based retailing and e-commerce platform as a service. Infibeam.com is one of the largest multi-category online retailers. We are present across 31 product categories and sell 12.6 million SKUs. Infibeam’s platform Buildabazaar.com is India’s most used e-commerce platform. It is one of its kind DIY (Do it Yourself) store platform with all functionalities required to manage an e-retail business built in. Infibeam guarantees store completion within seven days from start.
Highest selling items: Include books, followed by mobile phones, computer accessories, gifts and lifestyle products
Logistics: In-house logistics division, Infibeam Logistics(IBL)
Warehouses: Five leased warehouses located in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkota
Lenskart.com | Peyush Bansal
Shop for eyes
Valyoo Technologies was formed in November, 2010. Under Valyoo Technologies, there are four brands - Lenskart, Bagskart, Watchkart and Jewelskart. Out of these, Lenskart is the premier brand. One-third of Indian population needs vision correction and only 25 per cent of them use eyeglasses today. With unmatched variety and prices, LensKart’s endeavour is to make it possible for the consumers to acquire high quality eyewear with prescription.
fashionandyou | Pearl Uppal
Committed to fashion
It all started with a casual chat between Harish Bahl and Pearl Uppal in September 2009. After endless efforts put in by a great team, the website went online
in January 2010.
fashionandyou.com is a members-only online shopping destination for all things related to fashion and luxury lifestyle and is a strategic partner to innovative brands looking for new ways to achieve their business goals. Recognized as India’s #1 private sales website and a leader in the Indian Online Fashion & Luxury space, fashionandyou.com is amongst the top e-commerce companies in India. It is a by invitation-only private sales club, which partners with high fashion and luxury brands across fashion apparel, designer wear, accessories, footwear, watches, jewelry, fragrances, kids, home décor, and holds private sales events for these brands on www.fashionandyou.com at prices up to 80% off.
Since its inception, fashionandyou.com has been growing at a tremendous pace with 3.5 million members in its 2 years of operation, delivering to over 1100 locations pan India. fashionandyou.com employs more than 750 people spread across offices and distribution centers in Gurgaon, Mumbai & Bangalore. The USP of our website is the varied product range offering at prices up to 80%off.
Warehouse Management: Pan Indian Warehouse Network organisation; 20 Speed Distribution Centers for same day and next day deliveries
Technology used: Using JAVA based technology which is partly in-house and partly from our global partners
Payment gateways: Cash on Delivery (COD), various pre paid methods of shopping, such as, net banking, Credit & Debit Card transactions amongst others through VeriSign Secure payment gateway.
Other e-retailers who have found their place in the list.
is online brand of lifestyle products across apparel, footwear, accessories and home décor. It offers about 10000 SKUs, adding about 500 - 1000 SKUs to the product mix every month.
is an online site for lifestyle products across categories. Currently the site showcases 25000 products.
is India’s online shoe retailer with the widest range of international, high street and popular footwear brands. The site showcases over 4600 SKUs across 130 brands.
is the online lingerie retailer that features over 500 lingerie styles to choose from, having more than 12000 SKUs.
is focused on consumer healthcare products. It carries over 14,000 fitness, health and personal care products on its website.
18 Bag it today
is an exclusive, invitation-only online retail destination. The site stores SKUs, anywhere between 3000 to 4000.
Firstcry.com | Supam Maheshwari
FirstCry was founded by Amitava Saha and Supam Maheshwari in 2010. The quality of products and variety available abroad was lacking in India where the choice is much limited. Looking at these lacunae as a business opportunity, they conceptualised FirstCry. FirstCry is a megastore for parents. The site showcases a wide range of merchandise, from maternity wear to accessories for the nursery, diapers, prams, strollers, car seats, clothes for kids till the age of nine, toys, school gear, etc. Firstcry also adds close to 200 new products on a daily basis. Firstcry has over 30,000 items from 250+ top international and Indian brands like Mattel, Ben10, Pigeon, Funskool, Hotwheels, Nuby, Farlin, Medela, Pampers, Disney, Barbie, Gerber, Zapak, Mee Mee, to name a few.
Fnp.com | Vikaas Gutgutia
Anywhere with love
Ferns N Petals (FNP) having pioneered the concept of social expression (flowers and bouquets) in the country, today, has become a name synonymous with love, emotions and celebrations.
Started with a single store in 1994 in Delhi, by the enterprising Vikaas Gutgutia, FNE today boasts of 117 outlets in 47 cities nationwide and delivers across 145 countries worldwide. Having pioneered the concept of branded chain of flowers, FNP has grown with the spread of modern culture, increased urbanisation and improved standard of living. With the boom in Indian online retail industry and the changing lifestyle of people in bigger cities and smaller towns, FNP is consciously foraying into small towns and every nook and corner of the country to mark its presence. It plans to almost double its retail presence in India by the end of 2013. Fnp.com is the very active online flowers and gifts retail portal of Ferns N Petals.
MotaDeals.com | Arjun Anand
Better deals on offer
MotaDeals.com was initiated by Arjun Anand in July of 2011 with seed fund given by his parents. MotaDeals.com is a hybrid site that sells both deals and products to its customers over the Internet. It caters to customers throughout the country. The online retailer has in-house logistics as well as logistics partners to support the operations. It has a multi-vendor strategy towards logistics partners. The site stocks all types of products, be it mass market products, medium priced products or even premium products. The company has the policy to keep its inventory levels for no more than two weeks to ensure that the customers get newer products that have spent minimal ageing at its warehouse.
The spirit is high, the growth rate is exponential, one billion plus population is quickly adopting the internet, the youngsters, who are the majority of the population, are spending more time online. The perfect backdrop for the sector to grow, though its grappling with some problems that any sector at its initial stage cope with. Presently, 50% of Indian internet users shop online, according to the research firm Ipsos, compared to 48% worldwide.