Friday 29 September 2017

Shopclues targets growth with 50-80% discounts; Gives into private fashion brands for profits
Online marketplace Shopclues might be looking for a merger or IPO, but before that happens the etailer is looking boost its customer base through discounts. Its Maha Bharat Diwali Sale began on 20th September and the etailer targeted customers from Tier 2 and 3 cities with massive discounts. All of its major categories reflected offers ranging from 50-80% off.
The company CBO and founder, Radhika Aggarwal said, “This year’s Diwali celebrations at ShopClues are bigger and better than ever. In line with our unwavering strategy, this year’s best deals and discounts have been curated keeping the festive needs of ShopClues’ value-driven consumers in mind, a majority of which are from Bharat – the tier 2, 3 and beyond towns.”

Growth through discounts

The primary goal behind this discounting strategy is to gain 75% business growth from September to October. To achieve this, Shopclues is:
  • Focusing on electronics and accessories, fashion and lifestyle and home and kitchen
  • Expecting 250 million visits during its Diwali sale
  • Spending 2.35% of its annual marketing budget
  • Partnering with banks and online service providers to ensure top discounts (e.g. discounts on use of ICICI net banking, credit and debit cards; Offers on domestic flights booked via Yatra; holiday trips; mobile wallet cash)
Aggarwal mentioned, “We are very excited about the exclusive deals on Electronics and accessories, with price points starting at as low as INR 99. With a unique selection of products, ShopClues’ prime focus is on delivering value at all price points for its consumers.”
She also added, “We have also ramped up our associations with top banks, portals and e-wallets, to enable a seamless and delightful shopping experience for our customers during this Diwali.”
To increase the volume of its buyer base, Shopclues rival Paytm Mall also went big with its discounts. It practically offered products for free during its first festive sale this year.

Capturing the online utility segment

Apart from its special discounts for specific categories, through its Diwali Flea Market, Shopclues is looking to capture the utility segment. Following the concept of its Sunday Flea Market, the Diwali one will have over 10,000 festive utilities and gift products with Rs.29 as their starting price. The products on discount at the Diwali Flea Market will include, diyas, divine idols, lights, kitchen essentials, bedsheets, Bluetooth speakers and selfie sticks,
The Shopclues Diwali Flea Market is expected to commence from 7th October to 10th October. Products ordered from there will be shipped for free, provided 2 or more products are ordered. Also, prepaid orders will receive an exclusive 15% off.

The pursuit of profits

Like its competitors, Shopclues is after profitability as well. In the attempt to reach this goal, Shopclues is trying to become the ultimate destination for online fashion. So far it’s been banking on non-branded fashion labels. However, now the etailer appears to be giving in to the exclusive fashion label trend.
Shopclues recently introduced its first ever fashion wear private label – MEIA. Though this private label the online retailer wants to boost margins of its fashion category. Prior to it, Shopclues introduced Home Berry, an exclusive label, to its home and d├ęcor category.

MEIA by Shopclues

  • Unlike in the private labels acquired by ecommerce biggies, MEIA is an affordable brand from Shopclues. Products under the label have a starting price of Rs.399.
  • The brand is designed for young women from tier 2 and 3 cities, aged between 18 to 35 years.
  • Shopclues will sell designer kurtis, clutches, chunky jewellery and watchs under MEIA.
Aggarwal said, “Shopclues’ focus has always been filling the need-gap of consumers of tier 2 and tier 3 towns of India. Our total buyer base from these cities is more than 70 percent and the demand for better quality, affordable-designer products is increasing everyday.”
She also claimed that “In the next few months, we are looking to launch other exclusive labels in men’s fashion, electronics and accessories.”
Products under the new brand were made available from 21st September during the Maha Bharat Diwali Sale. With this brand, the etailer is looking to meet fashion demands of working women in the country. That is a demographic that desires trendy fashion at a pocket-friendly cost.

Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal violate FDI rules, alleges CAIT
Traders body CAIT today urged the government to take action action against ecommerce firms like Amazon and Flipkart, alleging they have flouted FDI norms for such players by undertaking retail trading activities.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) wrote to Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu in this regard, claiming that the companies were indulging in a “blatant violation” of the FDI (foreign direct investment) policy.
“Amazon has declared Great Indian Festival Sale from 21 September to 24 September, 2017 and Flipkart has conducted Big Billion Day Sale from 20-24 September 2017, Snapdeal has announced Unbox Diwali Sale from 20 to 25 September 2017, Jabong Sale from 20 to 24 September 2017, Myntra Sale from 20 to 24 September 2017, Shopclues has announced Maha Bharat Diwali Sale from 20 to 28 September 2017 which is a blatant violation of the guidelines issued by the DIPP,” CAIT alleged.
In its complaint, CAIT said,
“the advertisements issued by them in past days amounts to soliciting retail customers at their portals and influencing the prices and creating an uneven level playing field”.
“Under FDI policy these companies can not undertake retail trading activities but these e-commerce portals being habitual offenders of (the) government policies are circumventing the law and engaged in B2C (business-to- commerce) activities which is prohibited for e-commerce marketplace portals,” CAIT alleged in the complaint to Prabhu.
In its complaint, the traders body demanded that necessary immediate action should be taken against the firms for violation of FDI policy.
“The Confederation of All India Traders has charged Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal etc for violation of FDI policy for e-commerce of the Government issued on 29 March, 2016 by Department of Industrial Promotion & Policy, Ministry of Commerce,” the traders body said.
Myntra and Jabong declined to comment, while query sent to others did not elicit any immediate reply.
According to CAIT, as per the FDI policy guidelines, ecommerce portals receiving foreign direct investment can conduct business activities for B2B (business-to-business) business and will not be allowed to undertake B2C (business- to-consumer) business activities.
CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that by inserting big advertisements in the media, the companies are attempting to address consumers directly which is a contravention of the FDI guidelines.
“They (ecommerce firms named) do not have ownership of the inventory of the products purported to be sold on their technology platform, how can they offer discounts or discounted prices on the products for which they are not the owners-questioned trade leaders,” Khandelwal claimed.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Ecomm cos may see cash burn up to $400mn in festive sales
Ecommerce companies could see a cash burn of up to USD 400 million during this years festive sales, compared to about USD 200-250 million last year, research firm RedSeer Consulting today said.
The cash burn for the e-tailing industry, which has deep-pocketed investors like SoftBank and Alibaba backing players, is forecast to reach up to USD 370-400 million this year on a expected gross merchandise value (GMV) of USD 1.5- 1.7 billion.
Last year, the cash burn stood at about USD 200-250 million on a gross GMV of USD 1.05 billion, it added.
GMV is a term used in online retailing to indicate total sales value of merchandise sold through the marketplace over a certain period of time.
The report said that it is expected that there would be an increase in discounting spends and supply chain expenses as a percentage of GMV when compared to last year.
It added that with the latest funding firepower, market leader Flipkart would most likely increase discounting spends to acquire new customers as well as to gain momentum over rival Amazon (which is also expected to raise its spending).
Also, Paytm, with its recent focus on its Paytm Mall business, is most likely to increase its cashback spends to gain traction during the sale, it said.
“As e-tailers focus on an offering better than ever discounts and also offering a faster than ever delivery experience, including to Tier 2+ cities, this year will see a significant growth in cash burn year-on-year,” RedSeer Consulting CEO Anil Kumar said.
Advertising expenses, RedSeer said, will either remain same or decrease compared to the last years festive sale.
Ecommerce players, including Flipkart, Amazon, Paytm and ShopClues are holding festive sales on their platform currently, offering deals and discounts to customers across categories like fashion, electronics and household items. These offers not only increase sales volume for the players but also help the companies get new customers onboard their platform.

Pepperfry ready to ramp up sales through new service – Rental Furniture
Pepperfry is constantly on the hunt for innovative ways to boost sales. Before its plan to go offline, the online retailer launched its own brand to get a bite of the modular kitchen market. Now the etailer will take on new competitors apart from Urban Ladder in order to push its sales some more and strengthen its customer base. The online furniture platform is ready to offer its products for rent.
This service will be available only in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Noida, Ahmedabad and Chennai. In six months time, more cities like Cochin and Chandigarh will be included.
“Pepperfry customers typically range between the age group of 28 years and 60 years. This move (to launch rentals) will help us increase relevance in the age group of 22-28 years who we can then convert to customers on an on-going basis,” Ambareesh Murty, Pepperfry CEO said trying to explain the logic behind this move.
“We expect to rent a lot of beds, wardrobes, book cases, etc. These are more functional requirements,” he claimed.

Rental market a risky for business?

Small market

From $900 million in 2016, the value of the furniture and homeware market I expected to hit $1.1 billion in 2017, based on its 36% year on year growth, said Forrester Research. The rental market within this segment is minuscule and according to experts in the industry the rental market will take a while to grow to a substantial size.
“Furniture rentals is not a big market but it helps create volume. This is a channel for customer acquisition and enables conversion over a period of time,” senior forecast analyst at Forrester Research, Satish Meena pointed out.
He also said, “Companies are still figuring out how to optimise the (rentals) space. While it is good to have more players, it will take some more time before the pie can really increase.”

Existing competition

By diving into the rental furniture business, Pepperfry will have to compete with other like Furlenco, Rentomojo, CityFurnish and other businesses. Furlenco is a top player in this field. Its average ticket size is Rs. 3,000. The company is also looking to breakeven by March 2018.
In terms of sales, Pepperfry manages an approximate order value of Rs.18,000 and claims to possess a user base of around 4 million. Under its rental service section, it will offer 1,200 units out of its 14,000 SKUs. It will also offer free delivery and assembly service to patrons.

Does Pepperfry have an edge over competitors?

What the etailer has over its rental furniture competitors is its ability to provide a low-use price on its furniture pieces.
Murty stated, “Currently our returns and cancellations form 2.5% and rentals will include a portion of the returns. It will help us manage the entire supply chain including reversing cancellations and so it integrates very well into our business.”
In addition to low-rent charges, the etailer will also use slow SKUs and offline inventory as rental pieces. This will contribute to 15-20% of its rental revenue each month.
Murty mentioned, “The potential conversion to sales is high. I think we will have close to 95% conversion to our buying customers when they come of age. We will be profitable in 12-15 months, or by FY19-end if our growth trajectory continues.”
The furniture retailer is also looking to expand its offline presence to reach sales of Rs.5,000 crore by 2020. It expects to have 46 offline experience studios offline by 2018.

Monday 25 September 2017

Amazon to lunch more FCs through retail chains & manufacturers
The delivery network expansion plan continues for Amazon. The etailer launched its largest Fulfilment Centre (FC) in Hyderabad only a few days ago. Before that it announced its fifth FC in Haryana. It is also expected to expand its ‘I Have Space’ programme across the country.

New FC expansion idea

To grow storage space further, Amazon India is working on deals with white-goods manufacturers and retail chains to develop FCs TV, refrigerator and OTGs buyers, through its marketplace.
The idea here is to use stores for delivery after goods are ordered on Amazon.This is expected to obtain the US-based etailer supremacy in the appliance category.
The company will upload product descriptions and unboxing videos of different consumer electronics products to limit the lack of touch and feel. The ecommerce platform may also open offline experience zones, for exclusive brands only, Amazon India director (category management – large appliances), Kaveesh Chawla said.
He added, “We are trying to get offline shoppers of consumer electronics to buy online by overcoming all the barriers to become the largest ecommerce seller in these segments. We have set up our own studio to shoot and upload product videos and are also asking the brands to provide videos to demystify technical terms and demonstrate the product online.”
Chawla mentioned further that tie-ups with retail shops or regional retailers to:
  • Reduce delivery time
  • Return rates
  • Transit damages
12 FCs have already been set up and more are likely to come along if regional demand increases.

Friday 22 September 2017

Paytm Mall offers 100% festive sale discount; more sales by etailer expected soon
The first ever Paytm Mall festive sale keeps getting exciting. In August, the etailer said it will host its mega festive sale online and offline as part of its O2O (Online-to-Offline) strategy. Its initial sale called ‘Mera Cash Back’ sale began at the same day as Flipkart’s BBD sale, 20th September, and will carry on till 23rd September. The sale has a lineup of cashback offers of around Rs.501 crore. Through this sales event the etailer is looking to capture 5 million buyers.

What are the offers on Paytm Mall?

While Flipkart and Amazon offer 90% discounts, Paytm Mall is ready to sell goods for free!
The chief operating officer at Paytm Mall, Amit Sinha said, “If you are going for 90%, then why not 100%? It is certainly better messaging. We are going to offer 100% cashback on select products during the upcoming sale. The point is, there will always be a bunch of products which are going to be attention grabbers; products on which you can give back as much as 100%.”
15-100% cashbacks of merchandise value on mobile phones, fashion products, consumer electronics and other products. This equates to –
  • Cashbacks worth Rs.15,000 on – Smartphones
  • Cashbacks worth Rs.20,000 on – Laptops
  • Cashbacks up to 20% on – Large appliances (E.g. TVs)
To keep things interesting during the sale the marketplace is also offering 100% cashback to 25 phone buyers and 100 grams of Paytm Gold to 200 lucky shoppers on al 4 days of the sale.
Sinha added that, “The offers will be a mix of cashback, Paytm Gold and other stuff. Our focus is not only on giving best offers to consumers, but also enable shopkeepers, so that they have similar offers like online in their shops. We are going to be as aggressive as any other platform.”

How is Paytm Mall making this possible?

“In the first ever festive sale of Paytm Mall, we have collaborated with our partner brands and merchants to bring one of the largest assortment of cashback offers,” Sinha stated.
He also said, “We are not planning to do product launches like other platforms. We are working closely with brands to come out with a joint sale plan for Diwali for both online and offline. This will be a combined activity across all channels. For instance, if there is a brand with 1000 of its own stores, 10,000 of third-party stores and then an online store on our platform. The consumer will get a seamless experience on all three channels. You can purchase anywhere, get delivered from anywhere.”
The etailer has set aside Rs.1000 crore for festive season marketing, cashbacks and promotions. It obtained funding from Alibaba and SAIF Partners in February. This has helped the etailer to indulge in operations to overtake Flipkart and Amazon.
To sustain healthy growth, the etailer is playing to its strengths.
  • It is offering cashbacks
  • It is using an O2O strategy, similar to T-mall by Alibaba
  • It has moved 800 employees to Paytm Mall
  • It appointed Alibaba senior executives to company board
  • It expanded its QR code capabilities
Regarding its O2O strategy, the etailer has said it has partnered only with brand authorized stores, retail chains and small outlets. Orders placed here will be processed from local customer stores.
The ecommerce firm stated, “This will drive increased sales for Paytm Mall’s partnered retailers ahead of this festive season… It will also lead to shorter delivery timelines for all festive orders and save additional logistics investments like warehousing.”

More sales to come

Like its competitors, the ecommerce platforms under One97 Communications plans on targeting key categories like electronics, smartphones, fashion and appliances. It is forming agreements with brands and shopkeepers to develop the perfect customer experiences.
After the 24th of September, Paytm Mall will launch more sales events during regional festivals to boost monthly sales figures aggressively.
“We will do multiple sale events which will mimic the country’s shopping patterns and also push our daily needs category with the first week of every month sale. We have partnered with FMCG companies to push our daily need category,” Sinha mentioned.

India's E-Commerce Battle Heats Up During Festive Season

India’s e-commerce firms are likely to sell over USD 1.7 billion [Rs 10,880 crore] worth of goods during the festive sale this year, with large firms, such as Amazon, Flipkart and Paytm Mall, line up products and offers to attract customers on their platforms.
According to a data by Redsheer, the sale is expected to grow by over 60 percent this year, as e-commerce firms are looking to woo customers from tier 2 and 3 cities, apart from big metros, alongside new consumers who have come online due to the aggressive push by telecom major Reliance Jio in increasing data access.
In the 2016 festive sales, Indian e-commerce firms saw sales of USD 1.05 billion as home-grown Flipkart used the sale period to fight back an aggressive Amazon to retain its top slot. Also Snapdeal was being edged out as a serious contender in the e-commerce marketplace model before looking at a different model, after it rejected an attempt to merge with Flipkart.
Since last year’s comeback, Flipkart has got strategic investors such as Tencent, eBay and SoftBank, the world’s biggest Internet investor, to back it, building a war chest of over USD 4 billion to take on competition this festive season and looks to double or treble sales this year.
 Amazon, which has built a strong base of customers through its Prime subscription service, is also hoping to double its business. Paytm Mall, backed by Alibaba, has expanded its online play to bring offline players to the Internet and offer their products and services to customers.
 “This year is likely to be the biggest sales event in the history of online retail. With a much larger online user base, higher than ever exclusive product selection and likelihood of attractive discount across categories, this will truly be a bonanza of sorts for all industry stakeholders alike — sellers, consumers and e-tailers themselves,” said Anil Kumar, CEO of RedSeer Consulting in a statement.
 What’s on the platter?
E-commerce players, including Flipkart, Amazon, Paytm and ShopClues are holding festive sales on their platform currently, offering deals and discounts to customers across categories like fashion, electronics and household items.
Flipkart will offer discounts up to 90 percent on products across all categories, and is reportedly launching a marketing campaign across various platforms. The company is also said to be striking deals with online and offline partners.
Amazon has also launched its sale for Prime members from September 20, and the offer will be available to other customers the following day. The company has expanded its fulfilment footprint to 41 centres in 13 states to help storage and quicker distribution.
Both are banking on equated monthly installment schemes and other easy financing options, including a buy-now-pay-later plan, to boost sales volumes.
Paytm Mall, which is in its first festive season, started its sale event on September 20 by offering high cashback to customers and is eyeing 15% sales from this event.  “We are well on our way to achieve half a billion dollar of sales this festive season. We are giving a number of offers and discounts to consumers during the festive season,” Paytm Mall Chief Operating Officer Amit Sinha said in a statement. Sinha said Paytm Mall has registered a “massive surge” in transactions on its platform on the first day of its sale with customers from 750 cities and towns placing orders on its platform. 
Other players are also offering 4-5-day sale events, that starts on September 20, will go on for 9-10 days.
Etailers to see more cash burn 
E-commerce companies could see a cash burn of up to USD 400 million during this year’s festive sales, compared to about USD 200-250 million last year, research firm RedSeer Consulting. The cash burn for the e-tailing industry, which has deep-pocketed investors like SoftBank and Alibaba backing players, is forecast to reach up to USD 370-400 million this year on a expected gross merchandise value (GMV) of USD 1.5- 1.7 billion.
Last year, the cash burn stood at about USD 200-250 million on a gross GMV or total sales value of merchandise sold of USD 1.05 billion, it added. The report said that it is expected that there would be an increase in discounting spends and supply chain expenses as a percentage of GMV when compared to last year.
Nonetheless, India’s e-commerce market is expected to reach USD 50-55 billion by 2021 from the current USD 6-8 billion, according to a recent report by Retailers Association of India and Boston Consulting Group. The e-commerce penetration would be maximum in sectors such as consumer electronics, apparel, homeware and furniture, luxury, health, FMCG and food and grocery. 
This phenomal growth is attributed to rising middle class shoppers, coupled with faster Internet service and greater mobile uptake. The ecommerce scenario is heating up the competitive landscape where large local players are increasingly vying for market share by improving their logistics and mobile platforms, and in some cases, even moving entirely to an app-only service. Experts believe, the trend is expected to contiue in the next 4-5 years.