Thursday 31 October 2019

Flipkart launches 'MarQ TurboStream' streaming stick

BENGALURU : Flipkart on Tuesday launched a streaming stick under its private brand 'MarQ by Flipkart, foraying into a segment that is rapidly gaining traction with Indian consumers, starting at 3,499.
"With the Android operating system being so popular in the country, the user interface of our streaming device will be familiar and will help customers adapt to the new technology quickly," Adarsh Menon, Senior Vice President - Private Brands, Electronics and Furniture, Flipkart, said in a statement.
"Through this latest offering, we are once again bringing to the Indian market a product of unmatched quality, crafted to meet the needs of our consumers," he added.
The 'MarQ TurboStream' device is equipped with the latest Android 9.0 OS and sports Dolby Digital Audio and a voice-controlled remote with Google Assistant.
The device comes with Full HD resolution of 1920 X 1080 at 60 frames per second; 1 GB DDR3 RAM, 8GB ROM and streaming support for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi.
With built-in Chromecast, it allows users to cast their mobile phone screens onto the TV and supports all apps available on the Google Play Store.

Myntra reports more than three-fold increase in losses

BENGALURU : Myntra Designs Pvt Ltd, the holding company of online fashion retailer Myntra, has reported a more than three-fold rise in net loss for the financial year ending 31 March, 2019, compared to the previous fiscal. During the 2018-19 period, the company reported a net loss of 539 crore, a 257% increase from the net loss of 151.20 crore in FY 18, according to documents filed with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) and data sourced from business intelligence platform, Tofler.
Flipkart-owned e-commerce platform Myntra’s revenues in 2018-19 were up by 155% to 1089 crore compared to 427 crore in the previous financial year.
Myntra Designs's total expenses for the fiscal increased by 76% over the previous year. The company reported total expenses of 1,628 crore, compared with 926 crore last fiscal. There was a significant increase in employee benefit expenses and other expenses, while finance costs and depreciation cost had decreased over the previous financial year. Employee benefit expenses increased by 52% over last year - from 279 crore in FY 2018 to 425 crore in FY 2019.
A Myntra spokesperson said they do not comment on filings.
The e-commerce platform is owned by online retailer Flipkart. Mint had reported in September this year that Walmart-owned Flipkart is aiming for a gross merchandise volume (GMV) of about 1 trillion (about $14 billion) this fiscal year, up at least 45% from a year ago.The Flipkart Group - including Jabong and Myntra - had posted a GMV of $7.5 billion for FY18, according to British investment bank Barclays.
Myntra acquired fashion portal Jabong in 2016. In November last year, Mint had reported that Walmart would lay off around 200 employees at Jabong and integrate the online fashion retailer completely into Myntra.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

ShopClues to merge with Singapore-based Qoo10

BENGALURU : Three years after achieving unicorn status, online marketplace ShopClues that has been struggling to survive in the competitive e-commerce space in India, has merged with Singapore-headquartered e-commerce platform Qoo10 Pte Ltd, in an all-stock deal.
"ShopClues has received a very small cash infusion from (Singapore-based) Qoo10 Pte Ltd along with the full stock merger deal, to keep the company (ShopClues) afloat. Qoo10 has a strong presence in the Southeast Asia market, and their acquisition of ShopClues in India also in line with its proposed IPO plans, as it looks to grow its market base, as well as the seller base," said an investor in ShopClues asking not to be named.
A person aware of the deal, requesting anonymity, said that ShopClues was valued much lower than the $200-250 million which was pegged when ShopClues had explored a merger with rival online retailer Snapdeal early this year. However, a TechCrunch report pegs the valuation of ShopClues at $70-100 million in the current merger deal.
A press statement from ShopClues said that Qoo10 is an e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia that services small and medium enterprises (SMEs) via its localised online marketplaces in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, and Hong Kong.
The merger has been approved by the board of directors and major shareholders of both companies, the statement said, adding that this partnership opens up cross-border opportunities for consumers and sellers across Asia.
Founded in 2011, the Gurugram-headquartered ShopClues joined the billion-dollar club in January 2016, when it raised a round of funding led by sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd, along with participation from existing investors Tiger Global and Nexus Venture Partners.
Clues Network Private Ltd, that owns ShopClues posted losses of Rs208 crore for the year ended March 2018 and Rs347 crore in FY 2017.
In May this year, Snapdeal is believed to have carried out due diligence for a potential acquisition of ShopClues. However, the deal did not go through. Two months later, ShopClues reportedly laid off around 150-200 employees, across various departments.
Naren Gupta, co-founder and managing director of Nexus Venture Partners, in a recent interview to Mint in Bengaluru, said that ShopClues had not performed as expected and was "looking at various options right now, in terms of what it should do next".

Paytm Mall trims losses by 34% in FY19 to Rs1,171 crore

BENGALURU : Paytm Mall, the e-commerce arm of digital payments platform Paytm has trimmed its FY19 losses by 34% year-on-year to around Rs1,171.44 crore during the financial year ended March 2019 (FY19), according to documents sourced from business information platform Tofler. In the previous financial year, Paytm Mall reported losses of Rs1,787.73 crore.
Paytm’s e-commerce arm, which was carved out from the parent company One97 Communications in August 2017 reported a 20% rise in operational revenues to Rs893 crore in FY19, which increased from around Rs744.15 crore in the previous financial year.
The company also reported an ‘other income’ of Rs75.3 crore in FY19, which increased more than 2 times when compared to the previous year.
Total expenses for FY19 reduced marginally by 20% year-on-year to Rs2,139.6 crore, from a higher expenditure of Rs2,581.38 crore in FY18. Paytm Mall reduced its expenses across all categories in FY19, but its employee-related expenses went up by 11% year-on-year during the year to Rs177.16 crore.
The company spent the most amount of its money in the ‘other expenses’ category which stood at Rs1,913.52 crore in FY19, which also reduced significantly from around Rs2,214.73 crore in FY18.
Paytm Mall last raised around $160 million from e-commerce major eBay in July this year, for a 5.59% stake in the company. It also received a capital infusion of about Rs2,900 crore ($450 million) from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and existing investor Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in four tranches, Mint reported in April 2018.
Since its inception in April 2017, Paytm Mall has raised over $800 million valuing it at over $2.23 billion. It is currently the third-largest e-commerce platform in the country after Flipkart and Amazon India. Paytm Mall was originally inspired by Alibaba’s T-mall in China which runs on an Offline-to-Online model, or O2O model, which is a departure from the traditional inventory-led business.
As a part of the model, the orders are sourced from local brand stores, while the logistics and delivery are hosted by Payt Mall directly. These brands also have their own web pages on Paytm Mall for easy discoverability.

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Opinion | Over-regulation of e-commerce could stifle its growth

With sales numbers from the recently concluded e-commerce sale season belying the perceived economic slowdown, the e-commerce sector’s resilience indicates an increasingly sharper understanding of what both India and Bharat want. For this, India’s e-commerce industry deserves kudos.
In this context, it was surprising to hear that the government’s department for promotion of investment and internal trade (DPIIT) has asked these e-commerce marketplaces for a host of details, mostly investigative in nature. Along with looking into the volume of business, investments, commission agreements, and lists of sellers and distributors, the DPIIT has asked them to confirm compliance with rules relating to the goods and services tax in letter and spirit. The timing of these requests, and their nature, covering capital structure details, business models and inventory management systems, raise a simple question: Is the value derived from e-commerce’s co-existence with traditional businesses being undermined because of the fear of a business model that benefits all but is still seen by some as a threat?
That value has several dimensions. The foremost is e-commerce’s impact on India’s 12 million kirana stores. Accounting for 88% of the country’s total retail market revenues, these neighbourhood shops have an unparalleled ability to serve hyper-local needs. This is also the basis of the e-commerce-kirana win-win proposition. While kirana stores enable the online marketplace to excel in helping products reach last-mile destinations in hinterland markets, they benefit from the extra revenue stream that comes from this partnership. Kirana shops also benefit as they can adopt international best practices for better management of their inventory and the expansion of their reach. Kirana outlets and e-commerce can go hand in hand, and their joint strength can result in significant job creation in line with the government’s policy and skill development goals.
It also must be noted that amid a perceived nationwide slowdown in consumption, India’s e-commerce sector has recorded its highest sales ever. Notably, a significant chunk of the 19,000 crore gross merchandise value across the six-day festive sale run by online platforms came from small-town India. This indicates that e-commerce is generating sufficient value for all buyer classes, enabling it to boost consumption in a way that is both exponential and inclusive. A plethora of product sellers are getting access to e-commerce marketplaces that could have been difficult to tap, thus giving them greater reason to participate. The fact that e-commerce majors have regularly reiterated their vision of drawing more Indian buyers and sellers into their fold, with both seeking to make the most of rising mobile penetration and favourable demographics, speaks well of its future prospects.
The potential of job creation in e-commerce is evident from the extent to which it has penetrated India’s retail and consumption ecosystem. As it sustains its growth trajectory, e-commerce can emerge as a leading generator of jobs in areas ranging from delivery, logistics and data-analytics to product and brand experience, design and inventory management, as well as support functions such as finance, payments, legal and human resources. Newer and more specialised competencies, including payment gateways, big data and mobile technology are being harnessed to give consumers a hassle-free purchase experience.
It should also be appreciated that e-commerce today is not a monolith. The sector comprises a growing number of players of various sizes. To remain competitive, they will all have to make regular investments that would place our workforce on a par with its global counterparts, while also serving to acquire and sustain a business advantage that enables the sector to surge ahead.
Having whetted India’s purchase palate, e-commerce is giving equal shelf space to domestic artisans and small- and medium-sized manufacturers, granting them access to local, national and even global markets. As the e-commerce sector grows and deepens, its engagement with both the “classes" and the “masses" of India, so to speak, its status as a multiplier of prosperity, can only grow.
India’s e-commerce sector has benefited from a pro-business policy environment. It is where it is today, to an extent, on account of government initiatives such as Digital India, Skill India, Startup India and Make in India. Today, placed at the intersection of economic growth, job creation and unprecedented market access for enterprises of all sizes, the e-commerce growth story epitomizes the inclusiveness of the Indian economy set in motion by government policies.
While strategically designed and implemented regulations have a place in our economy, being overly critical of a marketplace that currently serves as a beacon of commercial success may inadvertently stifle its growth and bring back the worst of the Licence Raj regime. The sector’s multifaceted positives and its evolving nature have led the government to adopt a consultative approach. Such consultations must continue. As one of the fastest growing online retail markets among the economies of the world, the sector must be assured of a fair policy framework to support India’s emergence as a $5 trillion economy by fiscal year 2024-25.

Amazon India's e-commerce arm narrows FY19 loss to ₹5,685 cr

New Delhi: Amazon Seller Services, the online marketplace arm of the e-commerce giant in India, has narrowed its loss to 5,685 crore for 2018-19.
This is a 9.5 per cent decrease from the last financial year, when the company had posted a loss of 6,287.9 crore, as per documents sourced by business intelligence platform Tofler.
Amazon Seller Services saw revenues growing 55 per cent to 7,778 crore in 2018-19 over the previous fiscal, it added.
Coupled with its other entities in India, Amazon's losses in India in FY2018-19 were over 7,000 crore.
Amazon Wholesale India - the B2B arm of the American e-commerce giant - reported its revenues for financial year 2018-19 as 11,250 crore, an 8 per cent fall since the last financial year.
The entity's loss, however, widened to about 141 crore during the same fiscal, from 131.4 crore in 2017-18.
Amazon Pay India - its payments arm that competes with the likes of Paytm, Flipkart's PhonePe and Google Pay - recorded a manifold rise in losses. Its loss widened to 1,160.8 crore in FY19 from 334.20 crore in FY18, as per Tofler.
The unit's revenues for financial year 2018-19 more than doubled to 834.5 crore over the previous fiscal.
Amazon Transportation Services reported 31 per cent rise in revenues at 2,079 crore, while its net loss was at 27.5 crore in 2018-19.
Emails sent to Amazon India did not elicit a response.
Amazon and its rival, Walmart-owned Flipkart have been pumping in millions of dollars across various operations like marketplace, infrastructure and supply chain management as well as marketing and promotion.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had committed investment worth USD 5 billion in the Indian market in 2016.

Saturday 26 October 2019

Early Diwali may hit Amazon’s Q4 growth

Bengaluru: Amazon’s international sales growth rate might be impacted in the final quarter of this financial year as parts of Diwali sale happened in the third quarter this year. The festive sale had taken place in the fourth quarter last year, said Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky. He was speaking to analysts after the announcement of its September quarter earnings.

The e-tailing major’s losses from international business, which counts India as a critical market, remained flat at $386 million (Rs 2,735 crore) for the quarter ended September 2019 compared to $385 million (Rs 2,728 crore) a year ago. On a sequential basis, the Seattle-based company had clocked losses of $601 million (Rs 4,258 crore) in this business for the quarter ended June this year.

“The Diwali holiday was all in the fourth quarter last year and a bit of it was in third quarter this year,” Olsavsky said, citing it as one of the reasons for his outlook on the final quarter. He mentioned Japan raising consumption tax was another reason for the outlook.

“So, if you wrap those together, we expect it’s going to be more of an issue with our international growth rate,” he added. Olsavsky added he was looking forward to the fourth quarter when holiday sales will start in the US. It has estimated a cost of $1.5 billion for faster shipping, largely for its one-day delivery, to consumers during this season in the US.

Amazon, which is finishing its last leg of the festive sale in India, has been under the scrutiny of the government along with rival Walmart. Commerce minister Piyush Goyal recently said his ministry was probing the role of Walmart (via Flipkart) and Amazon in predatory pricing affecting small traders in the offline market. These companies have been sent a detailed questionnaire on the issue too.

Both Amazon and Walmart maintain they are compliant with local laws.

Globally, Amazon saw sales of $70 billion during the quarter under review, a jump of 24%. Its profits stood at $2.1 billion for the third quarter compared to $2.9 billion in the same period last year. This is the first time Amazon has recorded a lower profit on a year-on-year basis since the second quarter of 2017.

Cheaper mobile data is fuelling growth of etailers in non-metros

E-commerce might appear to be a two-horse race but scratch the surface and it’s teeming with other etailers that are reporting brisk business. In fact, this festive season is proving to be great for off-the-radar e-commerce companies. These are the ones that are more conscious of profitable growth and keen to get new and repeat buyers – mostly away from the big metros.

“It’s been a fairy tale,” says Ambareesh Murty, cofounder of Pepperfry, a furniture e-tailer that claims sales are up 50% from a year earlier. Comeback kid Snapdeal has witnessed 52% growth in demand this Diwali, driven largely by shoppers from non-metros.

“Snapdeal’s business volumes have more than doubled in 120 non-metro cities including Satara, Anand, Pali, Roorkee, Jhansi, Haridwar, Tezpur and Hassan,” a company spokesperson said. Nine of 10 orders on Snapdeal were from non-metros.

KGanesh, serial entrepreneur and partner of, a platform for startups, says the number of consumers has grown and its portfolio companies BigBasket and BlueStone have seen a 70-80% increase in transactions. Online jewellery e-tailer BlueStone says the spend per order per year has increased to Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 now from Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000 over the past few years.

Chinese e-tailer Club Factory has seen a faster growth rate in tier 2 & 3 cities in West Bengal, Bihar and Telangana.

“Net increase in metro cities remains strong as people are more familiar with online shopping. Mobile phones, accessories, electronics and lifestyle items are seeing brisk sales,” says Vincent Lou, CEO of Club Factory.

Curated marketplace Qtrove, which sells non-GMO products, jewellery e-tailer Bluestone and even lingerie e-seller Clovia have seen sales increase this festive season.

Cheaper mobile data is fuelling growth of etailers in non-metros
“Thanks to Jio, the market has expanded,” says Pankaj Vermani, CEO of Clovia, referring to the cheap data plans offered by telco Reliance Jio Infocomm. “Our average ticket size has gone up by 10% and this time we have seen a rise in demand for nightwear and high-end lingerie with a higher consumption in tier 2, 3 towns like Saharanpur and Meerut.”

Cheaper data plans have contributed to expanding mobile internet and getting more e-shoppers on board. According to the Snapdeal spokesperson, only 100 million of India's 440 million internet users have shopped online. However, the market is now expanding beyond the first 100 million e-commerce buyers.

“The trends we have seen from Diwali sales are an unequivocal confirmation that e-commerce is now a strong channel for buyers in smaller cities,” he added.

Snapdeal has noticed growth in the middle and lower ends of the market as more value-conscious customers came in.

“Unbranded merchandise from bazaars has started to move online to cater to this demand,” the spokesperson added.

At Pepperfry, its omnichannel strategy – it has 65 stores where people can see, experience and buy online – paid off and sales are up 50% from last season. The company is also looking at raising $20 million and going public in 2020.

A noticeable difference this time was the rise of the first time, nonmetro, online shopper who’s actually buying from her smartphone. According to Snapdeal, first-time users surged across cities such as Nashik, Surat, Chandigarh, Panaji and Guwahati and the overall growth in first-time users was 2.3 times year-on-year.

Ganesh of Growthstory attributed the surge in the tier 2 and 3 e-shopper to better internet services and almost free bandwidth, vernacular language enablement by e-commerce companies, ease of payments like scan and pay, and overall lower levels of penetration of e-commerce in smaller towns.

According to Harsha Razdan, partner and head for consumer markets, retail and internet business at KPMG India, “Regional localisation and fulfilment centres and festive season offers, catering particularly to regional customers, have helped.”

Razdan said the rural population, which makes up 60% of the country’s population, is yet to be tapped to its full potential.

“Tier 2 and 3 towns and rural areas will become the next battleground of growth for e-commerce companies,” he said.

The growth of smaller e-commerce companies during this festive season has shown that while the top two may have cornered the lion’s share of business, there is still potential for growth – less than 5% of retail is online – and there’s room for many more platforms.

However, the smaller companies still need sort out a few things. According to Razdan, these include product range, quality and trust, supply chain costs, and the cost of customer acquisition.

Meesho revenue at Rs 84 cr

Meesho revenue at Rs 84 crBENGALURU: Social commerce startup Meesho reported revenue of Rs 84 crore for the financial year ended March 31, up from Rs 6 crore in the corresponding period last year.

Losses widened to Rs 100.42 crore from Rs 5 crore in the previous financial year, according to regulatory filings.

Meesho enables small businesses and individuals to start online stores via social channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.

The firm offers solutions for discovery, logistics and payments to enable easier transactions between resellers and buyers. The category is, however, plagued with high return rates of as much as 40-50%.

A large part of the company’s expenses went towards employee salaries, logistics, marketing and reseller bonus, discounts, rewards and reimbursement.

In August, the company raised $125 million, led by Naspers, with participation from US technology company Facebook and existing investors SAIF Partners, Sequoia Capital, Shunwei Capital, RPS and Venture Highway.

Visa to enable OTP-less e-shopping

Visa to enable OTP-less e-shoppingMumbai: Visa cardholders will soon be able to complete payments on select e-commerce sites without having to wait for an one-time password (OTP).

The payments company will activate ‘Visa Safe Click’ (VSC) across leading online merchants for transactions below Rs 2,000 in value.

VSC is a lightweight, secure software plug-in for mobile app-based e-commerce merchants. For transactions up to Rs 2,000, shoppers don’t need an OTP as the solution uses cryptographic validation along with Visa’s global risk engine to authenticate each transaction.

The RBI had relaxed norms for transactions below Rs 2,000 in 2016, allowing the payment networks to do the second factor authentication without using OTP. VSC is designed as a frictionless payment solution for e-commerce, which is built exclusively for the Indian market.

VSC will be launched this festive season across leading e-commerce merchants to provide consumers a secure and seamless payment experience. Flipkart is understood to be one of the early adopters. In a transaction with OTP, the customers is taken out of the e-commerce website to a payment gateway to complete the transaction.

This adds two more legs to the transaction and increases the chances of a failure particularly when traffic is high.

“The Indian e-commerce market is expected to reach US$1.2 trillion by 2021. However, digital payment success rates are trending below 80%, resulting in suboptimal consumer experience and a significant revenue loss for the e-commerce industry. E-commerce merchants are grappling with an ever-growing number of consumer issues such as cart abandonment, connectivity and incorrect passwords during the payment leg of their transaction,” said T R Ramachandran, group country manager, Visa (India and south Asia), said.