The Ahmedabad based Internet & ecommerce company, Infibeam was started in 2007 by Vishal Mehta. Since then, the parent entity has mushroomed into many independent ventures across various fields such as online retailing, ecommerce, marketplace, logistics, ticketing, customized gifting, music streaming, digital marketing, generic top level domain registry, and e-book reader. The list is quite remarkable, something that no other ecommerce company has managed to achieve. Yet, we don’t hear much about Infibeam these days.
It’s hard to miss television ads of Indian ecommerce companies, be it Flipkart’s adult children ad series back in 2012, or the recent ones like Amazon’s Aur Dikhao hook or actor Aamir Khan promoting Snapdeal’s Dil Ki Deal. Even sinking ship, eBay and then-marketplace-now-discovery model Yebhi advertised aggressively at one point.
But not Infibeam.
One would see print ads of Infibeam during festival season but no television ads. The company finds no mention when people talk about ecommerce leaders or players or general competition. So the general assumption was that ‘out of sight, out of mind, out of business.’
But then we woke up to these news stories – Infibeam launches unique logistics service-Shipdroid, expects a valuation of $1 billion on listing and that it chooses IPO over VC money. These are not old stories. The first one came out in February this year, the second announcement in April and the third in July.
Which means Infibeam is alive. But kicking?
Strangely it doesn’t get featured (except their press releases couples of times a year) in news much unlike competitors Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal that announces new developments on a regular basis. The company’s social media pages aren’t that active either compared to say, Flipkart.
And in general the company is regarded as ‘unresponsive’ to all – customers, sellers, and media.
Anup Mehta, who started selling on Infibeam three years back reached out to Indian Online Seller and left us the following message,
“I had signed up with Infibeam as a merchant and it’s been more than 1.5 years I have received the payment. (I) want to make sure none of the other merchants burn money with them.”
We decided to dig further and got it touch with the seller. We asked Mehta about his selling experience on the platform and he said, “In the beginning it was fine. The person who was handling my account was in Ahmedabad and was going good. But then the account managers never used to take up calls (and) the follow ups go in vain. Their accounts department refuses to pay. It’s been 2 years since we are following up but in vain.”
We asked him what kind of problems he faced while selling on Infibeam. Mehta shared,
“Shipping and payment. We used to ship products for them through our courier partner and they would never mark it as delivered though it used to get delivered. The payment terms were 30 days but the payments were never ever till now received. It always used to take 60-90 days. (sic)”
Infibeam has a reputation of being an ecommerce company that never rushed to ask money from venture capitalists, yet managed to make profits steadily unlike other marketplaces that record losses every year. Which is great! But how far is this true? Has the company really been profitable so far with no support of VCs money or it’s the opposite? The numbers keep changing and there’s no way to verify the figures (advantage of being self-funded) except to believe the company’s claims.
Infibeam’s collective revenue from all its abovementioned businesses combined is notable. But just as a marketplace, it stands nowhere near other ecommerce players; not in terms of revenue but in terms of reputation and recall value.
With the fresh news of IPO, it seems Infibeam has again managed to create ‘cash positive’ image and differentiate itself from other marketplaces. That means it is still in the ecommerce race. But the company’s unresponsive attitude needs to stop if they want more sellers and buyers to use its platform. As indifference and ecommerce don’t mix well together. Unless founder Vishal Mehta decides to speak specifically about seller and buyer grievances and not just about Infibeam’s glories, things will keep going down. And all you sellers, word of advice – tread with caution on this platform.