Indian e-commerce firms had been trying to outdo each other in sales numbers through discounts, promotions and year-long sales. They are all vying for a piece of India’s coveted e-commerce pie, which is supposed to be worth trillions of dollars in the future. But in their quest to acquire customers, all they’re doing right now is competing in loss figures.
Amazon India has just announced that it suffered losses worth Rs. 1728 crore for the year ending March 2015. In comparison, Flipkart had announced losses of Rs. 2000 crore in the same period. Snapdeal’s losses stood at Rs. 1350 crore.
Amazon’s revenues grew from Rs, 169 crore in 2014 to Rs. 1022 crore last year. But its losses increased almost in proportion to its expenses, ballooning from 321 crore to 1724 crore. Promotions formed a major chunk of Amazon’s expenses – it spent Rs. 743 crore in ads and 661 crore in sales promotions in 2015.
The big 3 in Indian e-commerce – Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal – are all heavily funded, and are on track to receive even more capital in the coming year. But unless these firms can compete on something other than heavy discounts, it looks like a race to the bottom, and high losses will continue.
Ecommerce giant Snapdeal on Thursday launched a week long festival to promote its real estate arm.
Snapdeal, which started in 2010 as a deals website has since then branched into being a fully-fledged ecommerce portal with millions of products. In 2014, it forayed into the online real estate business in a partnership with Tata capital ventures.
While the online market real estate is dominated by players like Magicbricks, 99 acres and Housing.com, newer players are looking to enter it in a big way.
Tempted by large values of transactions, and the GMVs ( Gross Margin Value) arising out of real estate transactions that can run into millions of rupees, thus improving the bottomline for an ecommerce company, these ecommerce firms are looking to dominate in a saturated and highly competitive market. Traditional real estate ventures and builders gain from the popularity and the tech infrastructure the ecommerce players bring to the table. A transaction involving a house sale amounting to Rs. 1.1 crore was reported on Snapdeal last year. Since then the company has sold over hundreds of units across various price segments. Besides transactions, sponsored listings by real estate can be a sizeable monetization opportunity.
While rival Flipkart has stayed away from the real estate vertical, in bid to focus more on the big ticket items, it recently started selling bikes and cars on the platform.
Quikr recently also got into real estate with Quikr homes, and acquired realty startup Commonfloor to consolidate its new business. Housing.com, the much – vaunted real estate Unicorn startup, is going through troubled times of late, and is in talks to get acquired. One of the likely buyers, is rumoured to be Snapdeal. Housing is valued at $500-700mn and the deal is likely to be a win-win for both the parties, with Housing getting a stability boost and additional source of revenue. Housing is slowly phasing out its rental business, and concentrating solely on buy and sell, in a move to improve margins and profitability.
Looks like consolidation in the online real estate market in India is on the anvil, and strategic investments and partnerships would be the key to dominating it.
In an age when there’s a startup for everything, right from booking your maid to having your funeral arranged, why should your pets be left behind? As a pet owner, you love and care for your pet and need the best for them.
Fortunately the startups wave has struck some animal lovers who’ve turned entrepreneurs to help solve pet problems. From booking their spas to buying the best of pet accessories, these startups are creating a whole new industry which hitherto was confined to the neighbourhood pet shop. Though the pet care industry in India is nascent and not as mature as in western countries, the industry is growing at about 26% a year, fuelled by a significant increase in spending by Indians on pets in the last few years.
We reached out to all the pet startups in India and got a lowdown from all of them on what they do, for you to bookmark.
EDEM.3DEM is a 3D modeling and printing services company which started out with key chains, magnets, and photo frames. But their most important product is customized dog collar tags. The company offers dog tags in different designs, custom sizes and includes the number of the parent and the name of the dog. “The parents are always happy seeing their dogs in big sized and custom designed, colorful tags on their dogs. “, says the founder Sai Sandesh Makam.
2. Vivaldis Health Care Products for pets
Vivaldis Health and Foods Pvt. Ltd. is a healthcare products company born out of the vision of professionals passionate about animal and human healthcare. They manufacture and market novel medicines for chronic disease management such as obesity, cancer, arthritis, and nutrition management for pets. Founded in early 2015 by OP Singh and Kunal Khanna, a London Business School graduate, Vivaldis operates in 25 cities across India and its products are available across leading veterinarians and pet shops across the country.
3. The Pet Photographer
Pet Photographer | Operates in Bangalore| Facebook
Missed out on taking pictures of your pet chasing his tail or asking for more food with that irresistible wide-eyed look? Happens to the best of us, although pets are such a big part of our lives – they’re family. Pet Photographer captures those fun moments with your pets, be it indoors or outdoors. “From action shots to photos of your pets with their personalities highlighted in a way you never thought would be caught on camera.”, says founder and pet photographer, Aakanksha Tavag, an ex-Googler, who now finds happiness in capturing your precious moments with pets.
4. Time For Pet
Timeforpet.com aims to serve as a one-stop destination for all your pet needs. It allows you to post free advertisements through which you can put up your pets for adoption or adopt a pet. There are various kinds of pet products and accessories up for sale ranging from pet food to chew toys. The site also provides with doctor’s advice, which basically means you will have assistance from a vet in case your pet has a medical emergency. The website also houses a list of reputed veterinary clinics all over Bangalore.
CollarFolk is for those people who hate to leave their pets behind when going on a vacation and would love for them to come along! Collarfolk is the new one stop service provider to ensure just that. They help people plan pet-friendly vacations with their ever-growing list of pet friendly hotels, resorts and home stays across India.Other than that, they also help you find the right grooming and boarding services for your dogs. “And yes, we even help you get a pet friendly taxi for the trip. Happy Holidays!”, the founder Rukmini Vaish beams.
6. Heads Up For Tails
“Heads up for tails is a celebration of these amazing animals who give so much and ask for so little!”, say the proud founders. Heads up for tails are India’s exclusive luxury brand for ‘pawsh’ and fun doggie couture. Their products range from customized dog beds, chic collars and leashes, fashionable dog apparel, to a range of accessories for pets and pet lovers. The idea of Heads Up For Tails was born out of an innate and deep understanding of dogs and their likes and dislikes. “Our venture is a means of using our expertise and passion to curate and retail the finest products and accessories for doggie parents and their wards.”
7. Doggie Dabbas
While there’s a slew of food startups to order your favourite grub from, your poor pets have to contend with packaged food at best. Doggie Dabbas aims to change just that. “Starting from our little backyard, Doggie Dabbas came to light with the sole passion to provide healthy, home cooked, cutomized meals for ‘man’s best friend.’ Our protein rich food is vacuum packed with the latest technology and hand delivered to your doorstep.”, say the founders. Doggie Dabbas is a one stop shop which provides the benefits of home-cooked food combined with the convenience of traditional packaged dog food.
Here’s an AirBnB for dogs! Waggle is an online community of dog lovers where traveling pet parents can find safe and loving dog lovers homes. “Our core principle at Waggle is to help find safe and loving homes for dogs where they get care and an environment just like their homes. Hence, we are completely reliant on hosts as this is the only way we can ensure the quality of the service that we provide. We do not own any boarding homes, but we do host dogs in our home frequently,” , say the founder duo of Sameera Abraham and Arjun Mathai.
Dogsee Chew is formed for the love of dogs. Founder Bhupendra Khanal, who headed an analytics firm for 7 years, quit to get into the food industry and ended up started DogSeeChew – organic foods for dogs. “It is a highly nutritious high quality snacking option for your dogs. The products are sourced from the best of manufacturers & suppliers in the Himalayan range – Nepal & Darjeeling.”, Khanal says.
Dogsitter is an online platform for pet owners to pet- sitters when they’re away and for pet-lovers to find a pet to sit! The website acts as a perfect aggregator for both pet-sitters and owners in an easy user friendly interface.
DogSpot is a one stop platform for all the dogs’ needs and according to ComScore, the most visited portal in the pets sector. DogSpot aspires to solve problems in the dog world, by aggregating and organizing information, bridging gaps and hence bringing the community closer. The website helps events to get more participants, footfalls and make premium content available to dog lovers free of cost. Apart from information on all things 4-legged and furry, DogSpot.in also sells pet accessories on the platform in affiliation with various partners.
Petdom is a pet adoption platform on a mission to find the right deserving home for all pets in India. With the help of technology, Petdom aims to aggregate and facilitate the adoption of thousands of dogs from Animal Shelters, NGOS, Animal Care Centres. Even current pet parents who are looking to re-home their loved pet can use Petdom to find deserving families and individuals. They have a verification process and a binding agreement which the pet adopter has to sign. Petdom provide help to its new family to ensure the pet is gently rehired. “We have collaborated with PFA (People’s for animal) Menaka’s Gandhi organisation and she is supporting us for the cause. We have 600 shelters on board and will soon have 10000+ dogs listed on the portal.”, say the founders Abhinav Tyagi and Udit Agarwal
13. Woof Yums – Customised meal plan for pets
Woofyums provides customised and doggy-tailored meal plans for your lil ones. You can choose the plan according to your dog’s culinary preferences and its size and order your meal and get it home delivered.
14. Scoobled – An online social group for pet talk
Scoobled is an online community where folks who adore their pets or folks who are allured with any kind of pet activity, can pitch in, share and discuss all things pet. From discussing pet related health issues, to knowing do’s & dont’s of travelling with a pet, to funny gags, to sharing pictures and more, it can be a handy social media forum.
15. Bark N Bond – Dog training and recreational service
A list on pet startups is incomplete without including Bark N Bond, a dog training and learning service by Pranita Balar, who quit her well paying job to follow her love for animals and turn it into a profession. If you wish to get your dogs trained without needing to inflict cruelty, and also let them have fun once in a while with other dogs, Mumbai based BarkNBond has your furry lil one covered. Bark n Bond also provides dogs on demand to bring some doggy cheer to offices.
Flipkart has another addition to the ever-expanding list of items available on its site. Soon, buyers will be able to buy motorcycles and cars from the online retailer.
The company will pilot its operations in Bangalore, where it’s tied up with local dealers to sell Bajaj motorcycles and Maruti Suzuki cars. In the pilot, Flipkart is also encouraging its employees to buy vehicles on its platform.
“There is a paradigm shift in the way people shop online today, with more and more unconventional categories like automobiles and auto accessories, small home appliances, personal care and jewellery gaining popularity,” said Anil Goteti, Vice-President, Business at Flipkart.
Earlier, Flipkart’s rival Snapdeal had also introduced vehicles on its site, partnering with Hero Motors and Piaggio to sell motorcycles and mini trucks in an “integrated buying experience” that enables online booking and loan approvals within two minutes of a vehicle purchase on the site.
The push towards higher priced items by online retailers is partly motivated by an increase in GMV numbers that sales of these items bring. With each purchase being worth lakhs, e-retailers can quickly boost their sales figures in a bid to outmaneuver their competition.
Technological growth has been on a persistent growth across all sectors. Likewise, couponing industry too has undergone evolution and transformation to keep pace with the technological advancement. Since its inception in the form of small sheets of paper, coupon offerings has changed drastically with the advent of eCommerce and online marketing. There are new ways, through which retailers have started using coupons. Digital coupons now not only serve the purpose of deals and discounts, but helps in increasing customer loyalty and brand building.
Discussed below are some parameters, that suggest how technology is changing the face of the coupon industry.
1. Evolution of the Search Engine Technology
Search engines are the most integral element for driving web traffic. The search engine function enables retailers to optimize most beneficial coupons for the consumers. Small tricks such as optimization of title tags as well as creating a map view might do the trick easily. While making purchasing decisions, consumers can check upon value deals and discounts via search engines using filters to get information on specific product and service categories, webstores, validity of coupons, location specific info. Search engines also lead to coupon sites that are offering validated coupon codes and deal details of the products searched for.
2. Personalised Recommendations
The recommendation feature enables retailers to offer consumers deals that are specific to their searches made online. Ways like native advertising where recommendations on deals and discounts could be placed on the websites where the consumer is searching for products. Strategic marketing ways of offering coupons or deals for new customers visiting the website or lucrative coupons for returning visitors.
Coupon sites are now adopting latest technology of integrating coupon recommendation widgets like Gleam, etc. for making communications more personalised to increase consumer loyalty. Coupon sites are now understanding the customer interests and working on offering customised, relevant and validated information.
3. Exclusive Affiliations
Cashbacks and deals have always stimulated customers. Keeping this in mind, different coupon websites are now implementing affiliation marketing and exclusive tie-ups with online sellers and marketplaces to build a faithful community of shoppers. These exclusive offers are the vital offerings that ensure customers to return to the coupon site whenever they would want to avail the offer on the products and services. Also, customers would refer to other prospects, considering this offer would be exclusive and would not be available elsewhere.
4. Mobile Apps and Mobile Responsive Website
Transacting using mobile phones is increasing among the buyers as well as online sellers. According to a recent study, 1 in every 3 consumers having smartphones, search for coupons on their mobile device, and more than 25% of them have actually redeemed a coupon on their devices. Websites are also being made mobile friendly for easy access and faster loading. Couponing sites like HappyCheckout, CouponDunia, ShopPirate.in etc have come up with their Mobile Apps to enable customers to look for coupons easily, even when they are shopping using Mobile Apps or mobile website.
5. Scalable Platform
With the growing number of online stores and online buyers, the need for reaching out to the huge audience is also crucial. There are billions of products being sold online now, wherein offers and promotions are rolled out everyday. So scalability is very essential to meet the increasing online traffic. Service providers like winamagnet, couponpaq etc. provide competitive scalable platform to facilitate the future business growth. These platforms also allow multiple merchant subscription modules and marketing features like banner ad management for google adsense, commission junction type ads and more.
6. Social Media Marketing
The power of social media and viral marketing tools is quite eminent now. Integration of social media sharing tools like sharing on Facebook, Twitter, etc. helps in increasing the outreach. Consumers could stay informed on the latest deals and discount coupons as well as share the information within their circle via integrated social sharing buttons.
7. Review System to Build Customer Trust
Reviews and feedback are essential for building a customer trusted website. Nowadays people take buying decisions after thorough research on customer reviews, feedback and product performance. Likewise, while browsing for coupons, they prefer to check websites with validated coupons and deals to avoid hassles of expired coupons, etc. while making their purchases. With multi-level rating system, shoppers can review the listings and help other visitors to gain trust. Also, incase of coupons not working or error messages, inputs could be obtained from users and corrective actions could be taken.
8. Email and SMS Integration
Integrated Email and SMS tools are helping in making the communication between websites and users more effective. Coupon sites can also send intimation on relevant coupons or information on deals to subscribed users via automated Email and SMS. Tools like Mandrill, Falconide, Clickatell, Mozeo, etc. help in enabling these communications by scheduling campaigns or triggering mail or sms based on actions.
Coupon websites could also schedule weekly communication with relevant information on coupons for subscribed users, to help them stay updated.
9. Analytics and reporting
Analytics and reporting tools have been quite valuable for the coupon industry. This helps to get an insight on customer’s search patterns, preferences, redemption and performance of the website in terms of adding value to the customers. Data analytics tools enable coupon sites to get a complete report of coupons viewed according to month/day, total coupon uses per month/day, top coupons etc. Several softwares such as upshot commerce provides an easy solution in this regard. Google analytics also helps in analysing the performance of the website.
10. Price comparison
The price comparison feature has made the life of shoppers much easier. It enables the customers to view and compare best marketplaces to shop from and to figure out the perfect coupon to be used with it. This feature also enables customers to view the popular deals and discounts. Sites such as mysmartprice, desidime and comparemunafa, help in identifying this.
Coupon industry has undergone tremendous change starting from print and then transforming digitally. Technological innovation has enabled coupon industry to revolutionize itself and has more appeal to customers now. As the coupon industry is growing, the discount coupons, deals and cash backs are the need of shoppers to get the best deals. For sellers it helping to reach out to more prospective buyers and increase sales opportunities. Embracing the technological advancements would further help in making the processes simpler and effective.
The ecommerce battle in India, a large, fast-growing market, has been on for sometime now. Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon, are in the fray to cater to the large 375 million+ online population in India, along with several smaller players, and a new biggie in Paytm.
However, in a market that’s characterised by little differentiation and modelled on deep- discounting and supported by large Venture Capital funding, profitability will be a long, hard road. And to that end, every one of the 3 ecommerce biggies would want to dominate over the others. A recent Goldman Sachs report says the tussle among e-commerce companies in India is a matter of the “survival of the richest.”
While speculations about Flipkart’s exponentially increasing sales and rising losses are ripe, Amazon India wants to leave no stone unturned to establish itself as the leader of the pack.
The American giant, which set foot in India in 2013, 6 years after Flipkart – a local rival, that was modelled on Amazon, recently revealed a ComScore report which made it the highest visited ecommerce site in India. This was addressed to all the Amazon Indian customers purportedly by CEO Jeff Bezos himself.
Now in a recent companystatement, Amazon also claims to be the largest marketplace in India in terms of products on offer. Amazon adds 50,000 products on the website everyday, the statement says. While the corresponding numbers for Flipkart and Snapdeal are unknown, it’s hard to say with authority if Amazon is indeed the biggest marketplace in India.
The company has attributed many factors including initiatives like Udaan, Amazon Kirana and AmazonBusinessOnline.in towards its success.
After dominating in the home country USA for over 20 years, and being prominent in many other countries in the West, Amazon has its bets placed on the huge, untapped potential that an India presents. After losing out to Alibaba in China, Amazon wants to make sure that India is still Amazon’s stronghold. Amazon has been fiercely competing with Flipkart and Snapdeal, not only in terms of offering discounts and a famously great customer service, but has been battling it out to dominate eyeballs with a splash of marketing, engagement activities on social media and many innovative advertising hacks, like the Chai carts, to onboard more sellers to sell on Amazon.
In a visit to India in September this year Bezos had said that “The Indian venture [Amazon India] was doing well already. At Amazon, we obsess over our customers, not competitors.”
Looks like Amazon does care about the competition after all.
One would presume that startups operating online businesses would rely heavily on online advertising to get noticed. And while that is true, they are also now experimenting with some unique advertising platforms to capture mindshare.
Step out of the internet and on to the road and you’re sure to spot a billboard, hoarding or a unique out-of-home advertising prop plugging an ecommerce startup holding their own against the more established brands.
While advertising through billboards, hoardings and usually any offline methods is considerably more expensive ( read: up to a million bucks for a months’ spot on a prime location billboard) than online advertising, flush with VC funding, most of the hot startups wouldn’t mind shelling out the dough to create a brand recall and stand out from the clutter. And just as well. It makes perfect sense to not only capture the ready online audience, but also onboard and engage a potentially huge and captive offline audience on your platform.
In an exclusive feature, here’s a roundup and analysis of some of the most interesting examples of offline and outdoor advertising by online startups and ecommerce players.
1. Flipkart does good
When Flipkart had ads for its #AcchaKiya campaign all over the billboards, little did it expect to get trolled like this. Rival Snapdeal placed a billboard with a cheeky comeback right below! The hoardings were soon followed by photoshopped versions, by various brands, each cheekier than the last, becoming a viral meme.
2. My ad is bigger than yours
To promote their respective discount sales during Diwali, the 3 biggies in the Indian ecommerce sector had brought out full-page ads in leading dailies on the same day, making for some very ad-heavy newspaper reading on the day.
However, newspapers and billboard advertising is not the only offline route the startups are taking for their branding needs. Here are some interesting OOH (Out Of Home) attempts.
3. Faasos in a bus
The food tech restaurant is using the back of the seats of local buses as billboards. Considering that most of its audience is young, office going population, makes sense to invoke their hunger and create top of mind recall just before opportunities for ordering in food at office come up.
4. Quikr is not missing the bus
Buy and sell classified ads platform Quikr is using the backs of the ubiquitous local buses well by promoting its newly launched local home services arm.
5. Ola wants you to miss the bus
Ola has found a perfect advertising hack in a most curious prop – the grab handles in a bus. A perfect reminder for every time when you stand in a crowded bus, better just take an Ola auto instead.
6. Grabhouse bridging the gap.
Real estate portal Grabhouse has aptly put a hoarding promoting its house rentals services on a footover bridge.
7. Snapdeal on a different train of thought
Snapdeal has taken mass advertising to an altogether different level with an outdoor campaign that involves ad wraps on local trains in Bombay and on buses in Rajasthan.
8. Lenskart’s got their backs.
Lenskart has its army of foot soldiers carrying these LED hoardings strapped on their backs, ensuring eyeballs as they stride on in the city streets. But those who miss these, are probably the ones who need Lenskart the most!
9. Ola parks its ads on your gate
Ola tries an old advertising hack with the No Parking signboard on residence gates, quite cleverly plugging the point that with an Ola, one doesn’t need to bother with the parking.
10. Swiggy swings the music fest way
If your primary audience is young, urban, upmarket crowd, it doesn’t make more sense than to advertise at a music festival with over 5000 footfalls. Swiggy was one of the sponsors for the hugely popular NH7 Weekender music festival, and other than a makeshift cafe at the venue, Swiggy had its branding placed right at the entrance, ensuring instant eyeballs and recall at the festival.
11. Amazon’s chai carts
Piloting in Bangalore, Amazon’s using these Chai carts to spread awareness about the company among local entrepreneurs and sellers in small cities and towns. These tea stalls stationed at strategic points in a city will offer free cups of tea and conversations around getting businesses online.
E-retail has caught the imagination of the Indian public, and how. “Flipkart” has become the most searched term on Google India, dethroning IRCTC, which had been the most searched term in 2013 and 2014. Interestingly, three other e-retail companies feature in the top 10.
Amazon, Snapdeal and Paytm all made the list. Amazon was placed fourth, Snapdeal fifth, and Paytm came in at number 10.
E-commerce companies have a much bigger presence in the list this year compared to last year. In 2014, just two e-commerce companies had featured in the top 10, with Flipkart being number 2 and Amazon being number 10. Snapdeal and Paytm didn’t make the top 10.
The relative positioning of the e-commerce companies in the list also points towards the relative popularity of the three giants – despite Snapdeal’s and Amazon’s best attempts, Flipkart remains firmly on the top of the e-commerce pile. Snapdeal and Amazon are set in a neck and neck battle for second place. Late entrant Paytm is finally making its presence felt and is snapping at the heels of the top 3.
Snapdeal, Amazon and Flipkart have been locked in fierce battle for India’s e-commerce pie. The sites currently all offer similar product selections, similar clean interfaces, and similar discounts. But Snapdeal has now brought about an innovation that can help it stand out in India’s cluttered e-commerce space. In a bid to appeal to the non-metro areas of India, Snapdeal’s site will soon be available 11 new Indian languages.
Called Project Bharat, Snapdeal claims that its latest project will enable 130 million more Indians to access e-commerce than before. The move is aimed to appeal to the Indian consumer that has internet access but is more comfortable in transacting in a language other than English. The numbers for this theory check out – only 10% of Indiansspeak English, while around 30% of Indians have access to the internet.
India’s economic growth in the last decade has led to increasing prosperity in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. While people in these areas now have the the economic muscle and internet infrastructure required to be a part of India’s e-commerce revolution, cultural changes have taken longer to percolate. The majority of non urban Indians still are more comfortable in their mother tongues than in English, and Snapdeal’s move to provide them an e-commerce experience in their own language shall ease their transition into the digital age.
Snapdeal will launch the news version of its sites, quite appropriately, on Republic Day next year.