Launches, Mergers, Category Expansions, Express Deliveries, Funding, Celebrity Endorsements, Offline stores going online, and what not? In short, it has been a maddening year for the eCommerce World!
In a race to beat the competition, eCommerce giants are trying their best to emerge as a leader due to which we witnessed a few acquisitions and mergers last year….
Where Mahindra group that is already operating the retail stores Mom & Me acquired BabyOye; Flipkart and Myntra merged! Flipkart also went ahead and acquired a mobile advertising form – Adiquity which will help the company to branch out into broader areas and explore advertising. More money equals to more advertising and more advertising means more buyers and more buyers means more sellers. Smart move, we must say!
As our eCommerce companies grew bigger with all the mergers and acquisitions last year, they decided to fly higher and explore the unexplored territory. eCom giant or not, marketplaces either launched new segments, or extended already existing categories.
i) Shopclues launched Spiritual Products
ii) Flipkart launched 43 new product subcategories with two completely new categories – Home Category and large appliances segment. The company also introduced Sexual Wellness this year.
Government News and Moves
With all the positive response ecom giants got throughout the year, it is obvious that this industry is here to stay and there’s no looking back from here. The Indian Government also chose to go with flow and not feel left out. Here are some of the unexpected Government news and moves that proved that online selling industry is without any doubt booming and is backed by all…
Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the ambitious ‘Make in India’ campaign, which will cover 25 sectors, including textile and garment industry.
Government also decided to make online selling easier for Indian Retailers and Manufacturers to encourage more people to start selling online.
eCommerce to be TAXED?
Seems like the government too suddenly (or was it?) woke up to the fact that ecommerce is big and wanted their share too of the ecommerce pie. Discussions were on back and forth – Should taxes be levied on ecommerce? Should ecommerce be put under the scanner? Should the FDI regulations be relaxed to aid the growth of ecommerce? … And so on.
Not just the growth graph, we also witnessed the major players fall flat on their faces. With success comes failure – True! And with impulsiveness comes blunders.
Flipkart’s Big Million Sales blunder is known to all. Similarly, Snapdeal’s delivery blunders are not new to the online world. To cut down these blunders and better the customer experience, government again interfered and decided that ecommerce should be regulated by various government bodies.
Since the very beginning of the year, the delivery war had begun. But! It has not settled down yet. Where some of the ecommerce giants are starting their own logistics companies, others are starting their own warehouses to uncomplicate the whole shipping and delivery procedure.
Here are some of the major happenings on front of delivery that happened last year:
- Flipkart Introduced Same Day Delivery in 10 Cities
- Myntra decided to beat the competition by delivering orders within an hour
- Snapdeal plans to increase the number of fulfillment centres to deliver within 4 hours
- Tradus adopted new business model to focus on same day delivery
- eBay India too joined the same day delivery club
- Jabong took steps to improve last mile delivery for the delivery boys
- Amazon stopped delivering to UP customers
Fulfillment Centres! Fulfillment Centres! And More Fulfillment Centres!
Results can never be smooth, if the process itself is chaotic. To ensure the whole logistics system works in an orderly manner and there is no last minute mess, ecommerce companies decided to start fulfillment centres so that the delivery man has one single pick up point. Where Flipkart launched ‘Flipkart Advantage’, a stock-and-ship service for its third party merchants; SnapDeal focused its extended logistics service Safeship.
Shopclues, another one of the top players expanded its fulfillment spaces to strengthen shipping offering 3 kinds of services to sellers –
a) Items are picked up by merchants and brought to the fulfillment centres, where they are packed and shipped.
b) Items are packed by merchants and handed over to associated courier partners
c) Items are packed and shipped directly by merchants
Considering the rapidly growing ecommerce graph, there are just too many companies that decided to go online, by launching their own marketplace or tying up with major marketplaces. The biggest news of the year we feel was collaboration of Amazon and Indian Railways. Not only because it’s government going online; but because it shows the level of support government is extending to this relatively new industry and also utilizing its growth to the fullest.
Not just the top companies, celebrities too chose to become the brand face…
* Yepme roped in Shah Rukh Khan as Brand Ambassador
* Aamir Khan becomes a brand ambassador of Snapdeal
Who Empowered E-Commerce?
While some people were busy acquiring, merging, launching, expanding and bringing their offline stores online; there were companies who made smarter moves and lended the ecom giants the money they require to grow.
i) Valiant Capital Partners of San Francisco funded $26 million to FirstCry!
ii) CarDekho won a whopping Rs 307 crore in funding from a round led by Chinese funds Hillhouse Capital and Tybourne Capital
iii) Hopscotch, another baby products etailer raised $11 million in funds from a group of investors including VC fund Velos Partners, led by Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin
iv) Venture capital firms Helion and Zodius Fund II with Avendus gave Rs.200 crore funding to BigBasket
v) A funding of $1 million was secured by Velvetcase from The Chennai Angels
vi) Urban Ladder secured its second round of funding amounting to $21 million (Rs 120 crore) from Steadview, Kalaari, SAIF
eCommerce has been growing at lightning speed because it is well-researched and on its toes. The industry is ever ready to welcome and adapt itself to any change. With the boom of smartphones in India, the research shows that websites get majority of their traffic from Mobile. Also, most of the online shopping is done via smartphones.
When companies launched mobile apps and started offering additional discounts and exclusive offers on app; it was crystal clear that it is an effort to promote newly launched apps. But this doesn’t stop after the launch phase and the offers got tempting and irresistible with time. Only when Myntra announced that the company is shifting its focus to mobile website and will shut its desktop site did the ‘Exclusively for App’ funda got clear. For now, Flipkart and Myntra have shut their mobile sites and are planning to shut desktop sites as well.
We definitely starting the year with eCommerce, but as we end it with the latest trend in the industry – mCommerce; we are afraid that next year the report would be talking about How mCommerce took over eCommerce in the year that was!