Monday, November 10, 2014

E-Wars

Indians seems to be on an e-commerce spree now-a-days. With revenues of e-commerce companies swelling like our pot bellies, I always wonder what will happen when this euphoria is over and sensibility will start settling in. Right now mudslinging is happening in the top rung and down the line new start-ups are fighting in that mud for survival. Every other new venture is in e-commerce and now from onions to diamonds everything is available at just click of a button. Will this golden era keep on going for ever or will this threaten to disrupt the equilibrium of the society in near future, this is a debateable question which I don't want to put forth as of now but one thing is sure that consolidation will happen soon enough in this segment. 

Let us see according to me where top contenders stand in this race as of now:

Flipkart: The Prime Mover
Flipkart is the first company which can be truly credited with e-commerce revolution in India thanks to its founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal. With revenues touching almost US$ 5 billion, it is far ahead of other players as of now. Excellent customer interface, huge product portfolio across categories and exclusive deals such as Xiomi products are some of its major advantages. There may be some hiccups recently such as 'Billion Dollar Day', which earned huge revenue but huge criticism as well; you cannot count Bansals out of the race anytime sooner. Profitability may not be a concern at present but it will be sooner or later in future so they should keep a check on the same. Takeover of Myntra.com will also help them in securing a large pie of fashion space which can prove to be a very big advantage in future. I guess if they can keep on maintaining creative deals and innovative services in the loop, they can remain prime mover of Indian e-commerce industry for long.

Amazon: The Challenger
Amazon is a known name in e-commerce jungle worldwide and with extra deep pockets plus army of technical and creative minds at helm; it can be true challenger for numero uno position. With already revenues topping US$ 1 billion within a year, you can expect some solid ground work from them and then serious ground breaking in near future. Since they have everything to gain and nothing to lose, Flipkart will have tough time to save its territory and its customers from this e-commerce giant. Strategically, with sites such as Junglee.com in their kitty, you can expect some heavy fine tuning by Amazon in terms of deals and offers. Nevertheless they are also facing same constraints as our prime mover and it will be great to see who finds the key to everlasting success among them.

Snapdeal: The Innovator
I had always liked their philosophy of doing business and Snapdeal can be credited with start of innovative deals in e-commerce segment in India. Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal started on the right track but could not overtake Flipkart since stiff challenge was at their doorstep sooner than expected. But now Snapdeal has also thrown its hat into the ring and seems to be fully prepared to take the blows as well as inflict damage to the competition. However, customer interface and product range across portfolios need to be improvised in order to stake claim for the numero uno position.

Indiatimes Shopping, Homeshop18 and Ebay: The Invisibles
Roots of both Indiatimes Shopping and Ebay in India can be found even prior to Flipkart and Snapdeal. Started as market places for online selling, these sites had great potential but I guess lacked the hunger to conquer. They have every asset at their disposal to make it big in Indian market space but god only knows when they will start firing on all cylinders. Homeshop18 even have their own 24 hours channel to promote products but they still have to find the right combination of television and internet selling to make it to the top.

Quikr and Olx: The Resellers
So customer base is large, following is large, product range is infinite (since mostly people sell their all sorts of old used items) which means the scope for them is also quite promising. You can also see few people selling brand new items on these sites as well but mostly individuals and not organised retailers. However, any of them can be a big player in e-commerce space if they choose to enter the big arena of branded new items through retailers as scalability will not be a big issue with them.

Others: The Niche Segmenters
Jabong.com, Yepme.com, Yebhi.com, Pepperfry.com, Zovi.com, Naaptol.com, Tradus.in, Lenskart.com, Caratlane.com, Bluestone.com, Infibeam.com, fabfurnish.com, futurebazar.com, babyoye.com, localbanya.com, inkfruit.com, bigbasket.com, and so on, the list is never ending. Everybody has got the funding, everybody has got the advertisements and everybody has got a niche segment or may be niche customer base. However, most of these players will look for consolidation with big players at some point like what Myntra did with Flipkart until and unless they are happy with their limited reach or they have guts and resources to fight the big guns.

Whatever is going to happen in future that does not matter since as of now the customer is the king and we can reap as much benefit as possible till funding is coming to these companies. But let us beware that this will happen only till a certain point where equilibrium or ecosystem of business is not in danger so enjoy till then and that is what my heart whispers to me...........

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