Saturday 28 February 2015

Snapdeal taken to court for selling sex toys

NEW DELHI: Snapdeal has been taken to court by a Delhi-based lawyer for selling sex toys and accessories. 

According to a report by Quartz India, Suhaas Joshi, a Supreme Court lawyer has filed a complaint against and Chennai-based The report mentions that a metropolitan magistrate at Delhi's Tis Hazari court has directed the police to investigate the matter and submit a report next month. The complaint mentions that the e-commerce marketplace was abetting gay sex and exhibiting obscene products by listing lubricants and massagers/vibrators. The report links to a court order dated February 5. 

The report suggests that the complainant's intent was to 'test the limits of India's anti-homosexuality law (Article 377) that criminalises any intercourse that is against the order of nature. He says that there's no clarity on whether products that facilitate such activity are legal. 

It's worth pointing out that the sale of sex toys is prohibited under Indian laws against obscenity. At the time of filing this story we were not able to locate the said product listings on the website. 

Responding to Quartz, a Snapdeal spokesperson said, " is an online marketplace which provides a platform to connect buyers and sellers. We understand that at times sellers may list products which may be inappropriate, we take down such listings upon being notified of the same." 

Last month, it was reported that the government of Telengana wanted to block sites such as Flipkart,, and for "objectionable content" as the retailers were selling intimate items.

Snapdeal on an app spree

E-commerce company Snapdeal has acquired a large number of new customers through its two-day Appfest that began on Thursday.

The New Delhi-based company, on the first day of the festival, was close to hitting 1 million downloads on the mobile platform. Till midday, a major part of the million downloads target was achieved, said company executives.

On the lines of rival Flipkart’s Big Billion Day sale, the Kunal Bahl-led Snapdeal started its two-day mega-sale through its app. Most e-commerce companies are now migrating users to mobile apps. Earlier in the month, Flipkart held a fashion sale. However, response from buyers was lukewarm on the first of the two-day event compared to what was seen during earlier discounts.

The company claimed 50 per cent of the shoppers on day one of the festival were first-time shoppers on Snapdeal. The festival will continue till midnight on Friday and is spread across fashion, electronics and home goods.

While customer acquisition turned out to be one of the key highlights of the event, Snapdeal saw its traffic growing by 10 times till Thursday evening. About 80,000 sellers on Snapdeal’s platform participated in the first day of the two-day festival.

“Mobile is the key driver for the growth of digital shopping in India and over 70 per cent of our customers use this platform. With this Appfest, we wanted to offer our customer an opportunity to shop for products at a great value. We have seen a 10x increase in the traffic on our mobile platform, of this 50 per cent are first-time shoppers,” , said Sandeep Komaravelly, senior vice-president at Snapdeal.
In line with Snapdeal's usual business, a major chunk of 55 per cent of new downloads came from tier II cities while tier I and tier III contributed 25 per cent each.
All major e commerce companies such as Flipkart, Snapdeal, Myntra, Jabong have been promoting mobile shopping via app as they feel this is the future of online shopping in the next couple of years in India. Most companies have seen at least half of their revenues come from sales order via mobile phones while Snpadeal has had its nose ahead in this aspect with over 65 per cent orders coming via smartphones.

Saturday 14 February 2015

5 factors that will drive e-commerce growth

From relative obscurity to a potential game changer in a matter of just few years, online retail has not only captured a larger share of mind space; it has been grabbing market share rapidly. Flipkart, one of the largest online retailers in India, grew five times in volume of products sold between 2013 and 2014. Snapdeal, another large player, is reported to have grown six times in the same period. Is this growth rate sustainable? Here are five factors that will help online retail grow in coming years.

Localisation of Internet content

Google India spokesperson says that web content search in Hindi has grown a whopping 155 per cent in the past year, which is significantly higher than the growth of content search in English. Hindi content searched through mobile Internet grew at even higher rate of 300 per cent in the same period. Growth in traffic in other languages, too, was impressive.

Sensing an opportunity, Snapdeal launched its interfaces in local languages. “We launched Snapdeal’s multilingual interface in January 2014 in Hindi and Tamil languages and have seen a tremendous response from customers towards this. We will shortly be adding four more regional language interfaces,” says Ankit Khanna, senior vice-president (product management) at

Online travel firm MakeMyTrip launched its Hindi app in November 2014 and plans to add four more languages — Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam — in the coming months.

With incremental growth in mobile subscriber coming mostly from people who are comfortable with languages other than English, online retailers see this emergent segment as new growth driver. Mohit Bahl of consultancy firm KPMG says localisation of content is a great innovation, which will be helpful in future. For those who have already done it, there will be first mover advantage. Others are likely to follow suit, he adds.

Growth in cities beyond metros

About 20 per cent of India’s population lives in cities outside of metros. There are several pointers that suggest this large group of city dwellers have significant purchasing power. Honda, for instance, sells 60 per cent of its Amaze car in tier-II and tier-III cities. These cities account for 55 per cent of Honda’s City models.

Consumer demand is rising rapidly even in small towns and cities. Talking about the potential of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, a 2012 Nielsen report says: “While metros will remain a staple for marketers and increasing a rural footprint will be critical for volumes in the long run, there is a growth opportunity that is vastly under-rated by many marketers today, which could emerge as a key growth engine for the next 10 years. Middle India, a region made up of approximately 400 towns each with a population of 1-10 lakh, are home to 100 million Indians.” It further says: “These cities are ready to behave like the metros of tomorrow…The annual per capita FMCG consumption of Middle India towns touched Rs  2,800”, which is much higher than the national average of Rs 1,600.

The Nielsen report clearly shows that non-metro cities offer a huge growth potential for many companies. “At, we get over 60 per cent of the sales from tier and beyond towns and cities,” says Khanna. Other online retailers have reported the same trend. The contribution of these cities in coming years is set to become even bigger. “In addition to the convenience, another factor that is driving our sales in such cities is that many of the brands do not have footprint in these areas. No physical retailer can have the kind of assortment of products that we have,” observes Praveen Sinha, co-founder of online retailer Jabong.

Growth of mobile commerce

Online retailers’ growing reach in non-metro cities is being driven by the rise in usage of mobile internet in the country. According to Internet and Mobile Association of India, the number of mobile internet users in the country stood at 173 million in December 2014. It is set to grow manifold by 2020. A Confederation of Indian Industry report estimates that in the next six years, the number of people accessing the internet through mobile is set to reach 600 million. “This growth will be spurred by a sharp rise in smartphone adoption, expected to reach 50 per cent penetration by 2020,” says the report. “Given the increased mobile penetration and smartphone adoption in these areas, mobile is certainly one of the major factors driving this trend,” adds Khanna of

Growing usage of debit cards for cashless transaction

There has been a net addition of nearly 140 million debit cards in the country in the past two years. What is more, the usage of debit cards at point of sale terminals has seen a growth of 86 per cent in the same period. It indicates the willingness to use debit cards for purposes other than withdrawing money at ATMs has increased. With many online retailers still insisting on use of cards for high value transactions, it is a welcome change. It will allow e-tailers to reach out to many areas and many more customers in coming years.

Currently, cash on delivery constitutes nearly 70 per cent of all transactions for online retailers. But online retailers say the usage of cards for online transactions is steadily rising.

Growing investment in logistics and warehouses

Online retailers say they have extended their reach to “12,500-15,000 pin codes” out of nearly 100,000 pin codes in the country. There are also reports of online retailers trying to tie up with India Post and petrol pump stations to reach out to more customers. Expected aviation boom in small cities might also widen the reach of online retailers in future.

With estimated investment of nearly $2 billion in logistics and warehouses by 2020, the reach of online retailers to deliver their products in remote locations is set to increase. “There are many companies set to invest in specialised logistic services with a view to facilitating delivery of online retailers in coming years,” observes Bahl of KPMG.

E-commerce is the next big thing: Rohit Bal

Ace designer Rohit Bal feels online retailing is going to take over the fashion industry in the coming time. 

Rohit, who will be designing for the online fashion portal Amazon, said he is very excited about collaborating with an e-commerce company. 

"E-commerce retail is reigning the future and we have just stepped into the future. They have spoken to me that they want me to design a collection for them. 

"You will be seeing a lot of collections by me for Amazon and not only fashion but we will also do accessorising, home products and whatever we can do," Rohit told PTI. 

The 53-year-old designer said collaborating with the online store has been the most important decision made by FDCI ever and it will give Indian designers a unique platform to showcase and retail their work. 

"The partnership between Amazon and FDCI is monumental and epic for me because it is beneficial mutually in an incredible way," Rohit said on the sidelines of an event where Fashion Design Council announced its partnership with Amazon for India Fashion Week.

E-commerce should be handled by only one department: Commerce Min

 The Commerce and Industry Ministry has turned down a proposal of the Consumer Affairs Ministry to bring e-commerce sector under the purview of nine different departments saying it would create problems for the investors.
"Department of Commerce wants that the e-commerce subject should be handled by only one centre point and if the Consumer Affairs Ministry is ready for that they have no issues," a senior official told PTI.
e-commerce1According to the proposal of the Consumer Affairs Ministry, the sector should be handled by nine departments and regulatory bodies including the RBI, Home Ministry, the department of revenue and and Corporate Affairs Ministry.
Rejecting the proposal, another official said the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) also wants that the Consumer Affairs Ministry should take care of the issues related to e-commerce "as nine different departments would create problems for investors".
Currently, most of the consumer related disputes and complaints about the e-commerce sector are dealt by the department of consumer affairs.
However, the consumer affairs department has suggested that e-commerce involved complex issues like foreign investment and inter-state sale of goods through portals and hence the different aspects should be regulated by all the departments concerned.
The official said that the matter would be discussed at high level meeting of Committee of Secretaries soon.
The e-commerce trade is growing at a rapid pace and there is uncertainty about its regulations. Expressing serious concerns over huge discounts being offered by e-commerce firms, traders body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) too has asked the government to take steps to monitor and
regulate online businesses.
As per estimates, the sector's market size in the country was around $5 billion annually.

Thursday 12 February 2015

Flipkart to double value of goods sold as demand rises

Mumbai: Flipkart aims to double the total value of goods it sells to $8 billion this year, two people with knowledge of the plans said, as India's largest online marketplace seeks to widen the gap with rivals including's India unit.
Online retailers often use GMV, or gross merchandise value based on monthly online sales, as a measure of performance, as they typically make revenues from the commissions they get from sellers.
Flipkart's current GMV is $4 billion, the sources said, declining to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media. They did not give further details.
Flipkart to double value of goods sold as demand rises
Online retailers often use gross merchandise value based on monthly online sales, as a measure of performance, as they typically make revenues from the commissions they get from sellers.
Industry executives estimate Snapdeal and Amazon's India arm notch up GMVs of around $3 billion and $1 billion respectively.
Online retailing is growing at a breakneck pace in India, which has the world's third-largest population of Internet users even with only a fifth of its population online.
Consulting firm Technopak estimates the Indian e-tailing market will be worth $32 billion in 2020, more than 10 times its value of $2.3 billion in October last year.
Flipkart aims to ship one billion units a month and to serve 100 million customers by 2018 fiscal year, according to company executives who attended a recent townhall meeting. Currently the company ships around 8 million units a month.
Industry sources value Flipkart, founded in 2007, at around $11 billion.

India Post to launch own e-commerce portal like Amazon or eBay

Directly stepping into the cyber world, India post is going to launch its own e-commerce portal in the shape of those likeAmazon or eBay soon. The aggressive step of India Post, world's largest postal service, is a part of its massive IT based modernization initiative worth Rs 5,000 crore.
"At planning and designing phase now, the final rollover of the dedicated postal e-commerce portal may take another 6 months. But we are excited about this new avatar in our service basket," Mr. John Samuel, member of Postal Services Board told ET.
As he describes, the portal will be like popular e-commerce entities like Amazon or eBay. A conduit between buyers and sellers. But, it is not going to be entirely open for any item to be traded by anyone. Rather a moderated and scrutinized list will be followed. Local specialties like Tea from Darjeeling, Mango from Malda in West Bengal or Saffron from Kashmir will have emphasize in that.
India Post is Tying up with different controlling authorities like Spices Board, Tea Board, or cashew Board to ensure 'quality trading of quality items only'- as Mr. Samuel puts it.
In addition to the physical products, services of different public sector are also being planned to be included into the tradable items of the portal.
"Wide and fast growing coverage of Internet through computer and mobile phones are bringing more and more people from even remote corners to the doorsteps of e-commerce. There lies our new opportunity. Moreover delivery of the items is a major issue for all e-commerce authorities. Here also India post excel's with its 1.5 lakh establishments and time tested connectivity network," he said.
In one hand we have Rs 4909 crore worth IT related infrastructure modernization plan and on the other hand, we are spending another Rs 2000 crore to have new vehicles to ensure faster delivery.

Indeed it is a new step to a new world that can give new life to financially crunched Indiapost. But, "We need to bring change in our own attitude at certain corners to churn out the best out of this initiative," accepted Mr. Samuel.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

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Saturday 7 February 2015

Myntra planning to shut down its website by year-end

MUMBAI: At a time when fashion sales at Flipkart and Myntra have collectively crossed the billion-dollar mark in run rate, Myntra may look to phase out its web presence completely in a strong testimony to the exponential growth of mobile internet in the country. This will be the first such instance of a mainstream online retailer morphing into a mobile-only player as internet usage over smartphones surges in India.

Myntra, which draws as much as 80% of its traffic and 60% of sales from its mobile application, is expecting to take that number to 90% by the year end, which is when the e-tailer's web portal may cease to exist, people familiar with the development told TOI.

Talking to TOI, Mukesh Bansal, co-founder Myntra & CMO at Flipkart, said mobile as medium has grown rapidly for all e-commerce players but more so for the fashion e-tailers.

Bansal, however, did not confirm the plans to phase out the website in the backdrop of such phenomenal traction that mobile's getting among Indian shoppers. "Shopping for fashion is largely impulse-driven and that's why the vertical has done so well on the mobile. We are 100% focussed on mobile and making all our investments on the platform going forward."

While fashion for Flipkart and Myntra is expected to close at $1 billion in sales for the current financial year, Myntra independently is on course to clock Rs 2,000 crore in sales or gross merchandise value ( GMV) at a current monthly run rate of Rs 300 crore. GMV, in e-commerce parlance, is the overall revenue generated by an online retailers through the sale of goods on its platform. E-tailers usually make anywhere between 5% and 20% of GMV depending on the category.

Fashion unlike electronics, particularly private brands, offer e-commerce players better margins. Going forward, Myntra will look to build more of its own brands in partnerships with celebrities, sell its private labels on other portals besides hunting for acquisitions in the fashion space.

Flipkart, along with Myntra, is expected to be burning anywhere between $20-30 million on discounting, marketing, and ramping up its employee strength in a bitter battle for market share. Its two biggest rivals, Amazon and Snapdeal, too, are also guzzling millions in cash to discount products even as they scale up their GMVs.

Delhi-based Snapdeal also claims to have hit a run rate of a billion dollars in fashion sales, with 65% of its overall transactions being done over the mobile. "Several leading Indian e-commerce players have seen mobile contribute to greater than 50% of transactions today from under 5% a year ago. In the social-commerce space LimeRoad, for instance gets 70% of its users on mobile and more importantly, these users are three times more engaged and likely to buy as compared to desktop users," said Tarun Davda, director at Mumbai-based early-stage venture fund Matrix Partners.

Fashion, which includes accessories and footwear, is the second largest category online, after electronics, in the $3 billion strong Indian e-commerce sector, accounting for almost 30% of GMV, a recent report from Morgan Stanley said.

Alibaba's Paytm investment raises three important questions

Watch out Amazon, Flipkart and others, Chinese Alibaba is coming to India and that too with a bang.
The world's largest e-commerce company's strategic partnership with One97 Communications, the owner of m-commerce platform Paytm, is a big boost to mobile payments in India.
According to a report in The Economic Times, Ant Financial Services, an arm of Alibaba, has agreed to pick up 25 percent stake in One97 for which it will initially pay $200 million. Another $375 million is linked to performance milestones.
“India is a very important market for us because the population of 1 billion is just as large as China, while we also see the smartphone growth in India as more users will use mobile phones for payments and shopping,” Cyril Han, vice-president of Ant Financial, said in a statement.
According to a recent report by International Data Corporation, India was the fastest growing smartphone market in Asia-Pacific in the third quarter of 2014 due to the festival demand. It said in 2013 as many as 44 million units were and in 2014, it expected this to have almost doubled to more 80 million. In 2015, the quarter-on-quarter growth will continue to be moderate in India due to positive consumer sentiments and low levels of inflation, IDC said.
Online payments have also seen an exponential annual surge of 50 percent in the last seven years, says the ET report. The rising smartphone sales and a booming e-commerce sector point to the potential of the mobile payments sector. Alibaba’s interest in One97 makes it clear that in India digital payments is the space to be in.
Here are three points to ponder about the latest development:
1) Ant Financial’s move indicates that e-commerce will continue to be a darling of the investors even in 2015. While that is a big positive for the sector, it also raises concern about valuations. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, chairman and managing director of One97, had earlier told the Business Standard that Alibaba’s $575 million investment will value the company at $1.5 billion or about Rs 9,000 crore. The company’s valuation in 2011 was just $250 million.
Alibaba logo. AP image
Alibaba logo. AP image
This compares with the $11 billion valuation that Flipkart commands. Here too the valuation has been surging with each funding round. A recent report even said with its proposed US listing, the company is looking at a value of $5 billion.
When SoftBank invested $627 million in Snapdeal, the deal valued the Indian company at $1 billion. The BS report puts the valuation of other players in the sector such as Info Edge, JustDial and MakeMyTrip at around $1.7 billion.
Meanwhile, the ecommerce sector in India is riddled with problems, especially on the tax front. Recently, the tax department in Kerala slapped a sales tax notice of Rs 54 crore on Flipkart and three others. Prior to that, Amazon India faced tax issues in Karnataka.
The government needs to step in to resolve the issues before foreign investors’ interest in the sector wanes. E-retail has the potential to boost consumption demand – something that the Indian economy needs desperately. Will finance minister Arun Jaitley be imaginative enough to initiate some long term steps in the Union Budget2015-16 to handhold the sunrise sector?
2) India has always been very guarded against entry of Chinese companies into the country. The resistance has been strong in sectors such as telecom equipment and heavy engineering.
One reason for the close guard is the government’s protectionist stand as it fears that Chinese companies will disrupt local manufacturers. Secondly, there are security issues, especially in sectors like telecom equipment. But Alibaba’s entry seems to show that e-commerce may be insulated from such concerns.
While this could be a welcome change in the attitude of the government in a liberalised economy, one wonders what could be the reasons behind this. Or is this only a calm before the storm? The government can raise questions any time.
3) Another more interesting point to be noted is that Sharma of Paytm has applied for a payments bank licence. As per the RBI guidelines, payment banks are aimed at furthering financial inclusion and are only allowed to provide deposits and other payments and remittance services. They cannot give loans. While the RBI allows 49 percent FDI in such institutions, will the central bank be comfortable with the Chinese connection?
There are no definite answers for these questions. But one thing is sure: These are interesting times in the Indian e-commerce sector.

How Snapdeal is helping SMEs embrace e-commerce

Indian e-commerce space has come a long way with companies like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon enabling millions of sellers to evangelize a new sales channel — electronic commerce. While Flipkart and Amazon have 7,500 and 18,000 sellers respectively on their platform, their peer the New Delhi-based Snapdeal has over 1,00,000 sellers currently using its platform.
The Softbank funded company enables merchants to showcase their products to a whopping 40 million registered customer base. “For small sellers like us (SMEs), business is more or less the same every month. However, with the advent of eCommerce marketplaces we now have access to audiences across the country,” says a seller on multiple ecommerce platforms.
small buisness
image credit: ShutterStock
In line with Snapdeal’s vision to enable one million small businesses to do business online the company had launched CapitalAssist which enables sellers on the platform by helping them meet their growing working capital requirement as they scale their businesses. Banks and NBFCs can participate on the platform to provide seamless and low-cost financing to sellers on Snapdeal depending on their current and future business requirements.
At present, Snapdeal has sellers from 400 towns and expects it to double this year. Going a step forward today,, Snapdeal has tied up with GS1, a leading global organization dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards, and launched a Scan and Sell feature for sellers. This will enable sellers to list their products for sale on the platform in less than five minutes with just a scan of the product barcode and keying in the pricing details.
Scan and Sell is the first such initiative by any Indian eCommerce platform aimed at simplifying and automating the process of listing products for sale. Earlier this year the company also forayed into TV Commerce with a 50:50 joint venture with DEN, one of India’s biggest television distribution companies. This move will give another opportunity to Snapdeal’s merchants to embrace TV commerce easily. The scan and sell feature is currently available for a select assortment of branded products in the electronics and fashion categories. The company plans to extend this to the entire products portfolio in the coming months.
Snapdeal achieved target to have  100K sellers on its platform this month and claims to have 1,000 sellers who are doing over Rs 1 crore annually.
In a bid to ease the process for merchants, Snapdeal launched Seller Zone App for Android powered mobile phones last year. By using the app, merchants can check and manage inventory and pricing of their products listed on the platform. It also lets merchants monitor their competitors’ prices and match them with a single tap.
Currently, Snapdeal makes over 50 per cent of its sales through mobile based transactions. Given the increased mobile penetration and smartphone usage in the country, this initiative was launched in line with the company’s forecast that mobiles will drive the next wave of buyers and sellers to its platform. Such moves by Snapdeal to woo small merchants will certainly help small sellers to scale up their online channel with easy to sell features, financing and infrastructural supports.
As of now, we have seen heavily funded eCommerce companies investing in technology, supply chain and attracting talent but now they are also making investments to support small businesses, which will eventually bring more maturity to the entire eCommerce ecosystem.

Friday 6 February 2015

3 ways e-tailers can turn their business data into profitable business

The e-commerce industry is booming world-over, and the Indian market is no exception. According to an October report by Gartner, e-commerce in India is likely to cross $6 billion in revenues in 2015, recording a 70 percent increase from a year ago. This makes India one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in the Asia-Pacific region. With the convenience of access to mobile internet, mobile apps, doorstep delivery, one day delivery and cash-on-delivery options that e-commerce players offer, Indian consumers are readily moving to shopping and scoping for products online. With several well-established international companies as well as start-up e-commerce companies coming out of the woodwork in India, competition is rife and the game to lure new customers and ensure customer loyalty is on.
It was certainly not surprising to see a raging war amongst these e-tailers during Diwali, with almost all online shopping websites offering massive discounts on products ranging from electronics and white goods to clothes and footwear. However, what was surprising was that the traffic on these websites was out of control, and products sold out faster than was expected. While offering discounts did tremendously boost sales for these companies, there was also an ugly underbelly with customers who ended up buying out-of-stock products, slow webpage loads, web page crashes, payment issues, and a whole plethora of problems faced by an unexpected number of buyers visiting their portals.

Lapses of real-time information on website traffic and customer behaviour, these e-commerce players were unable to manage their product inventories and logistics. Several consumers were enraged by the poor level of service offered by these e-tailers, and what followed was mayhem. Twitter and Facebook were buzzing with thousands of unhappy online customers venting their frustration online. In a world that is empowered by social media, many of the well-established e-commerce players not only underwent a complete technical breakdown, but they also experienced an image and reputation collapse. With how quickly consumers can influence brands through social media, the organization must be held together and offer their consumers not only good, but great levels of customer service.
To be able to offer an outstanding customer experience, an e-commerce company’s front-end and back-end must be glued together. Big data and big data visualization tools can help e-tailers tie in their operations and identify problem areas predictively. A huge plus is for them to be able to do this real-time, and without adding on to their existing technology structure. Big data can be the missing ingredient between an organization’s front-end and back-end operations. Let me elaborate.
Big data and visual analytics can be used in two ways – one to analyse past customer behaviour and throw up patterns based on that, and the other would be for real-time analysis to respond while customers are in the process of shopping and decision making.
Below are three fool-proof ways in which e-tailers can turn their business data into a profitable business:
Putting your data in the hands of your business experts
Big data can help e-commerce companies manage their inventories, and raise alerts in advance on products that may be running low on supply. This would help keep the inventory well stocked, which leads to fewer instances of out-of-stock products. While a few Indian e-commerce companies do have dedicated big data resources, I do believe that hiring additional resources may be in vain. Data analytics software can help make it easy and possible for any employee to read, understand and predict trends.Visual analytics make it possible for organizations to put information in their user’s hands responsibly, without making business processes and complex computer languages between the experts and the data they need to understand. A business intelligence solution that can access and visualize your data in intuitive, easy-to-understand ways—while protecting the underlying data from inexpert users—allows your business experts become customer experts by letting them answer first one question and then the next in the iterative process that leads to true discovery.
Enabling speedy insight
In the business of e-commerce, customers’ expectations for fast resolution keep growing—and their need for speed doesn’t mean companies can flub the personalization and aligned experiences, either. If you can’t do it all, shoppers will find someone else who will—often only a few clicks away.
In order to keep up, I believe that e-commerce businesses need to equip their decision-makers with the ability to see and understand their data faster. According to researchers at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, the human eye can process data at approximately 10 million bits per second. Harness that power through visual analytics. Use intuitive, easy-to-understand images to make sense of your data and empower your business to move faster—in the right direction.
It’s not enough to bring in the power of visualization if you’re working with stale data. Make sure that the analytics solution you choose also has the ability to update as often as your data does. Build a dashboard once and refresh as often as you need. Daily.Hourly.By-the-minute.
Providing data access across multiple data sources
While business intelligence can “sit” on top of a data source and deliver reports—chances are that the information that you need is stored across multiple data sources. From website cart abandonment to interactive in-store displays, mobile apps to location data; your data is likely to be dispersed across the environment—and even across cloud and on-premises storage. It is critical that the data analysis solution that the company chooses offers flexible connections to multiple data sources.
Valyoo, a New Delhi-headquartered e-commerce company, specializes in category-specific online shopping destinations. Valyoo currently maintains four sites: LensKart, WatchKart ,BagsKart and JewelsKart. A data-driven company from the beginning, Valyoo wanted to increase its reporting efficiency, help managers make decisions faster, and keep up with increased reporting demands without hiring additional staffers. Being able to analyse the data generated on all of Valyoo’s web logs, the team is able to not only see what customers are doing, but they end up having more insights than what a regular brick-and-mortar retailer would have.
Of all the data in the world, 90 percent of it was created in the last two years alone. As an e-commerce company that is not only creating, but also utilizing data, big data and being capable to effectively consume data is at the core of building a successful e-venture.

E-commerce boom reaches Northern Eastern states

India's North-Eastern states are fast emerging as the drivers of growth for some leading e-commerce companies, which claim double-digit growth in the market after having overcome last-mile delivery challenges.

In this region, where hilly terrain and limited road and flight connectivity have posed hurdles for companies wanting to expand operations, demand for goods online is being fuelled by unavailability of certain products and the deep discounts being offered by e-commerce companies on a host of goods, including branded products.

Snapdeal's VP operations, Ashish Chitravanshi, said the North-East region is not only an important market for the company but also has the potential to be at a par with Delhi and Mumbai, in terms of business potential.

"The region is among the fastest-growing markets in the country for us. We have been steadily growing in double digits month-on-month in the North-East markets, with a steady increase in the number of orders from the region," said Chitravanshi. "As we take our reach deeper into the region we anticipate this number to grow phenomenally."

While Snapdeal services large parts of the North-Eastern region covering more than 1,100 pin codes, its rival, Flipkart, serves customers in over 80 cities in the region in partnership with logistics players eKart and India Post.

Flipkart has seen healthy growth in the region in recent years and is now scaling up its supply chain capabilities and support facilities to create a seamless shopping experience for customers there, a company spokesperson said, adding that the region has a relatively younger customer base as compared to the rest of the country and categories like apparels, games, music and books are popular.

Similarly, as much as 15% of Fashionandyou's revenue comes from the North-East, said Manav Narula, its GM for marketing.

Sanjay Sethi, CEO and co-founder of, said that though the percentage contribution to gross merchandise value(GMV) is in single-digits, the company expects it to grow to 10-12% in the years ahead.

Devangshu Dutta, chief executive of retail consultancy Third Eyesight, said managing a network of physical retail points is cumbersome in the North-East, while e-commerce is at a specific advantage in this region, since it allows a virtually unlimited range of product offering to be presented rapidly to the customer at a relatively low cost.

India's largest fashion e-tailer Myntra established its distribution centre in Guwahati a year ago, followed by a centre in Mizoram's capital Aizawl. "When we started the Aizawl centre, it showed us 500% jump in sales," said Ganesh Subramanian, head of new initiatives at Myntra.

For Myntra, a year ago, the North-East region was growing at 1.5 times the overall growth of the company and the business coming from this market is currently in line with the company's overall growth, Subramanian added.

But it is not just mass e-commerce players who are seeing traction from this region. Specialty and niche players are also in the game to conquer this still untapped region.

Gaurav Singh Kushwaha, founder and CEO,, an ejewellery company, said the region contributes to about 11% of the company's revenue. Also, the average selling price from the North-East is higher than the average selling price from other non-metros, he said., a retailer of children's products that has four service centres in the region, of which the ones in Agartala and Guwhati are owned by the company, plans to add another two distribution centres in Silchar and Shillong in a few months, said founder and CEO, Supam Maheshwari.

The region's difficult terrain has thwarted efforts to build roads and improve airline connectivity. This, in turn, has hindered growth of offline retail and availability of branded products. "It is the ideal use case for e-commerce where customers are not buying because of discount but because of lack of availability of options and variety" said Kushwaha of BlueStone.

Some e-commerce players see this region as a game changer if the logistical challenges are addressed.

Chitravanshi of Snapdeal explains, "The region forms 8% of India's landmass and has only 4% of country's population, which means the population is thinly spread across a largely mountainous area. This certainly presents a logistical challenge in terms of connectivity and cost involved to all e-commerce players."

Vipul Sharma, director of e-commerce Association of India, feels that the development of IT infrastructure at a faster pace can really turn the tide for the region

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Amazon, e-commerce rivals fuel commercial property boom in India

New Delhi: Internet retailer Amazon and its fast-growing local rivals are driving a boom in commercial property leasing in India as their storage needs rise, with shoppers in the country going online to buy everything from televisions to groceries.
Demand from e-commerce firms, a tiny fraction of India's retail industry, accounted for as much as 40 percent of 1.7 million square feet of warehouses leased in 2014 - a seven-fold increase from 2013, according to consultants CBRE South Asia. Warehouse rents have risen by a quarter over the past year.
Representational image: Reuters
Representational image: Reuters
Other estimates indicate office rents in India's tech hub Bengaluru could rise by as much as a fifth in the next six to nine months as e-commerce companies add to demand.
The result, say developers and analysts, is a speedier than expected recovery for India's commercial property sector, badly dented by two successive years of sub-5 percent economic growth.
"The best has yet to come for the sector and that will have a snowball effect on the property sector with increased appetite for office space, logistics and warehouse," said Sigrid Zialcita, managing director, research for Asia Pacific at consultant Cushman & Wakefield.
In October, online retailer Flipkart, one of India's largest market place sites, agreed to lease 3.25 million square feet of office space in Bengaluru from developer Embassy Group, making it one of the biggest commercial property leasing deals ever.
"There will be large requirements from these kinds of companies," said Jitendra Virwani, chairman and managing director of Embassy, adding such deals were few, but growing.
While e-commerce companies comprised less than five percent of the 30 million square feet of offices leased in 2014, they are expected to drive demand over the next three to six years.
Uptake of total warehouse space is likely to more than double to four million square feet in 2015, as more Indians shop online.
Revenues of e-commerce companies in Asia's third-largest economy are expected to rise to $1.5 to $2 trillion over the next 10 years, says Cushman. India already has the world's third-largest population of Internet users.
Among those looking for space is Amazon, which needs a million square feet of offices in Bengaluru, according to property consultants. Amazon had no immediate comment.
Indian classifieds portal Quikr said it is looking for 50,000 square feet. Furniture retailer Pepperfry said it plans to grow its shed space to 3 million square feet by 2017 from 250,000 square feet, while rival FabFurnish said it would more than double its space to 800,000 square feet by mid-2016.
Cushman's Zialcita said that while technology and outsourcing companies will make up the lion's share of demand for now, e-commerce firms will contribute notably in future.
"This is still in its nascent stage... it has the potential to grow," she said.