Archive for the 'E-Retailing' Category

flipkart.com – Fresh Book Store for Indian Market

Binny Bansal the founder of flipkart.com seems to be an intelligent man going around the blog world and leaving trail for people to reach out to his portal. Smart and free way of publicizing your initiative. In the US this is a common PR practice with portals to get blogsphere interested first and then traditional media follows.

Keeping in line with Business India 2.0 blog objective to showcase new developments in Indian webspace here is a review on Flipkart.com an online book store.

For long this space has been seen by lot of VC’s looking at investment in e-commerce india. Though the volumes have not been encouraging + the tax laws of our land are not favorable.  In my earlier post on Retail E-Commerce play in india i had taken a shot at online book stores and how horizontal portals are doing much better jobs moving books instead of people like firstandsecond.com

Flipkart.com comes perfectly in this space trying to get the fundamental rights which is easy to navigate comprehensive database of books to buy. The site scores high on usability though functionality is still limited keeping in mind level which bookstores have evolved in India. The search functionality needs little more work and rather than implementing a generic keyword search it need to weigh in elements of book details, book title etc. Idea is to create a relevancy score which can go up or down based on number of times a book is displayed in results and number of times it receive click based on relevant keyword.

For book portals to involve in India they need to get the book cafe concept going. Idea is to generate content around book topics which forces user to buy books on the topic. Most of the people try to get this going using user generated reviews but this is just not enough.  Create a facebook application track users book liking or even better just track hot topic searches and include them as keyword or cue for people to search for books related to those topics. A tag cloud which is not dependent on input from your search keyword but global search trends or indian search trends. Idea is to entice user to find content which might be already existing in books rather than wasting time on unstructured content on Internet.

The billing process and shopping cart used by site is simple though i didnt like the EBS integration interface as for some reason it slowed down the process.  Still unable to figure out why in india the payment gateways dont allow card details to be captured at merchant end and only processing information sent to payment gateway as this makes batch processing very difficult.

In the end flipkart.com is a good start or showcase for firstandsecond.com,nbcindia.com or other bookstores which went online way to understand when selling books on web how much usability can make different for increasing daily book movement volumes from 500 transactions per day to 1000 transaction.

Lets hope these web 2.0 book stores bring more to traditional  online bookstores which just act as mere catalogs online.

Storrz.com – Is India ready for online Grocery Shopping?

When subhiksha announced in last IAMAI meet that they would be soon launched online grocery retailing it really made me think that after working and living in a developed country like australia where big grocery retailers like safeway and coles were providing online grocery shopping what made me waste my sunday morning specially going to the stores and shopping.

Talking to couple of friends on phone made me realized online grocery shopping cannot work in any country as lot of people dont plan out their groceries in advance and the next business day delivery being offered is not as attractive to within 2 hours telephone delivery being offered even though store might be just opposite to your place.

Secondly in store shopped 40% of grocery bills include items which were never planned for which means need to go around the store look and feel thing forms a very important aspect while doing shopping.

Lastly lot of friends did point out this is the only family time together they get and removing this activity from the week only cleans up space to do more office work then spend quality time with family.

Now looking at Indian scenario with different kind of formats being followed by retailers to reach every corner or neighborhood the need and necessity to shop for vegetables,fruits,pulses  online goes away.

What does storrz.com offer ?

storrz.com tend to act as a shopping platform pretty much similar to one being offered by fabmall.com which means retailers host their products on storrz.com website and storrz.com takes care of logistics and payment collections.

Currently they are retailing MTR food packs and cookie man’s delicious cookies though they are not so tempting that you will just buy them online.

What models can E- Grocery Retailing platforms can implement to increase reach out or help existing formats?

i)Develop automated tool on their online website to create shopping list and ability for registered users to sms list to their mobile phones. They can now sms this list to some one from family going to the store with quantity required and when the person reach store they can use the same reference# in mobile phone to bring up order list on convenient touch screen kiosks available with ability to pay by credit card and someone from store pack their order.

ii) Offer discounted inventory online this is something which can push online grocery shopping so that people can check for things expiring in 15 days item or things available for mass  clearance at better prices online as they might be stocked in Area Warehouse but not stocked on shelves due to lack of acceptance from buyers.

Their are many other ideas which can be implemented but just offering online grocery retailing is something which india can do without for another year or two.

Impact of Regional Languages on E-commerce sites in INDIA

Recently i came across an article by IAMAI chief talking about how less impact does Regional languages will have on internet and e-commerce play in india. All sites you see from bookmyshow.com to seventymm.com are available in english as medium of instruction. This is something i am not against and i surely agree regional languages dont hold lot of importance in b2c e-commerce sites where target customer is given a product based on its merit not on basis of content.

Again even if a site has information as its model  lack of digital regional language content and inability of users to easily type in regional language using english keyboard act as a deterrent.  Even if you are ready to invest in infrastructure for delivery of information in regional language the return on investment is very marginal. Though if you are looking at integrating Mobile phones as another channel for delivery and interaction then language content can help you to reach out to masses which now has access to mobile phones but not the internet. Thats a different ball game all together. The mobile based users can benefit by knowledge of your product in the regional language and without any need of translation message can easily spread to large group of people. With most of the b2c players looking at tier-ii and tier-iii cities for expansion the need to localize content does not means changing medium of language but localizing the actual product delivered according to target market requirements.

How to derieve credit card holding customers to your e-commerce site

This is a question lot of e-commerce project managers ask themselves keeping in mind due to availability of search engines people finding them does not remain a big issue. The Biggest problem they face is deriving the right potential traffic to the site. In series of post i have been making for e-commerce site owners another idea with potential to excellence is to attract tie up with loyalty programs especially the one run by credit card companies. Users which have been accumulating loyalty points are encouraged by banks on every statement to redeem points if you as an online retailer can come up with an exclusive agreement with banks for exchanging those points for credit on your site you can actually attract spend from these customers for other items available in your store. Generally its seen people dont mind shelving off 40-50% of cost on an item if rest is covered by the loyalty points. So you can have these people constantly surfing your site looking at items available.

Rest i believe is dependent on pricing and other factors. So go and mull out an marketing alliance with these credit card companies and see it it works out for you.

Will be more than glad to help you make a road map.

PVRCinemas.com – PVR Movies online booking engine

PVR Movies Logo 

PVRCinemas.com is not a bad designed website but unfortunately their online booking engine still requires lot of work.  I use the site a lot to get show timing and new releases date. But never actually tried to book movie tickets online, given the new year resolution to do maximum purchases online i thought should give them a shot. Registering with PVR website was a task in itself for me as i never expected the site to be not friendly to Mozzila firefox browser. Once the registration was completed they had an email system where activation code is sended which need to be entered on the site to get the account activated. I thought the problem only lay with registration system hence again gave the site shot with firefox browser selected the movie and show which i wanted ticket for. Though i like the online seat selection procedure with live feed on seats available, but again ran into problem after entering credit card was unable to get response back. Problem firefox. Tried the whole procedure using Internet Explorer worked fine. Wasnt happy paying INR 10 extra per ticket as convienance charge but its alrite as atleast it ensures i will get seat in show of my choice. Site has lot of usability issue and would have preffered to book it using movietell but unfortunately they still dont have PVR cinemas on their movie booking engine.

Movietell on other hand has improved a lot with faster retrival of information and easier user interface to manage with nice use of javascript and AJAX. Keeping more information aside for next month review of movietell

Custom T-Shirt Printing/Corporate Gifting Business India

Abroad it might be common for small businesses to use corporate gifting service for small 10-15 orders. Its yet to pickup in india. The reasons are plenty first of all the indian corporate mindset. Till few years back companies were king and we use to live in a socialist world. As companies knew their were no alternative to them where will customers go.

As the india is rising so is the customer awarness and his ability to switch sides with a blink of the eye. Companies have realized importance of brand building and customer retention. Though this maybe true custom corporate gifting business has not evolved leap and bound as compare to its counterpart in the western countries. We still stick to traditional t-shirt mugs and calendars. Secondly you cant get away with small numbers hence this leaves out the masses of small companies which have realized the potential of branding and opportunities it can create.

Going forward  idea behind this post was to review site called smilenprint.com , Recently recieved their note pad via post.

Though the site is not designed too bad and comes with full locker to upload images and select t-shirt color etc. The problem is lack of creativity,flexibility and use of software right. They could have create a flash 3d shirt with ability to place users image anywhere on shirt. Why not give company option to put logo on the collar instead of traditional pocket. Though the concept is good they have to use technology right to reach out to mass and software has to be innovative and suggestive in nature. Example show them samples of exhibitors etc. Another important thing missing on the site is pricing. India is a price sensitive market hence display of pricing on homepage to attract customer to know how many orders they goto configure to get pricing right is essential.  Second problem with the concept is not identification of a clear niche they are trying to provide photo printing service and corporate gifting services. Problem is they need to understand they are 2 clearly different genre..though business process might be quiet same!!!

Cyberica needs to design some t-shirt and will be conducting full excercise via an online vendor. If you guys come across some online vendors do reffer their url’s by leaving a comment.

Online Flower retailing – Killer E-Commerce application from and for India

With IAMAI becoming the biggest body after NASSCOM to voice concerns and release stats on E-commerce activities in india. Bloggers and media have being going gaga over simple e-commerce sites like ones selling flowers and gifts doing great volumes of business. Recent posts by contentsutra.com and alootechie.com again highlighted the niche b2c sector blooming in india post dot com bubble burst and how people in india are comfortable using credit cards online.

I had first heard of online flower retailing  in 1998, at that time one would laugh at the simple notion of providing such service online due to the same factor which VC’s factor in while making investment, example quality standards and major revenues in this sector are generated by unorganized retailers. Those were the days when you also heard of mucchad panwalla with online website and whole idea of shipping pans to anywhere in the world. Most of the sites that time were concentrating on NRI market with fancy credit cards and ability to pay dollars to convert to sentiments in india. Technology was also hindering e-commerce growth in that era with no quality server farm available in india or payment gateway to process credit card transactions in indian rupees.  The online flower business in those days revolved around high markup price of goods sold and areas of delivery divided between various websites with none offering pan-india presence.

The business still revolves across the same basics of pricing but supply chain has become more efficent and lack of brand visibility has given any run of mill website with good flower selections catalogue opportunity to compete with big players. This year on valentines day i myself helped atleast 20-30 friends to orders flowers online for their girl friends online.This is another reason why i m doing SWOT analysis of the business model.

Key factors contributing to building successful online flower retailing model

– Have a catalogue of more than 100 designs. This helps user with choice but also with trust building

– discount factor should not be the main thing attracting a visitor to buy flowers online. Look at value addition like the ribbon material of greeting card with your custom message. Or free box of chocolates to go with it. Value packaging is key for deriving sales.

– Prominently display credit cards available and try to create a single page checkout page to reduce number of clicks and covert more hits to sales.

– Indian flower sites have one thing missing which is zip code/pin codes of delivery areas. If they could add that how much would it simplify for a user selecting the provider and also help you reduce extra site load which cannot convert to sales.

– Homeshop18.com has launched online flower retailing – one piece of advice for them implement an auto update service advicing buyer confirmation of delivery via e-mail/sms. This will enable buyer to call in time to capture the emotion right and use the service for this advantage.

Online flower retailing is here to stay but an organized player like ferns ‘n’ petals are better off to take advantage as e-commerce trends india suggest brand building helps in selling. Keeping in mind major sales are been still driven by NRI’s.

E-Commerce India – 10 Questions to ask your E-commerce vendor

So you have decided to take the e-commerce plunge and have decided to go with an small IT Companies which claims to have done shopping cart websites and can do the job in less than INR 1,00,000. WAIT!!!!! before you take the plunge its important to understand difference between an experience provider and another run of mill IT outfit run by students who have just graduated. I decided to create a small questionaire which can help you in evaluating best suitable vendor for your organization in layman words

Q1) What site architecture will be implemented ?

Answer you are looking for is any specific implementation model followed by the vendor. Like Interface components ,ability to plug and play features with ease in terms of long term maintainance. Think of the e-commerce site as an operating system. More the usage of computer higher will be load. So if you dont have good processor(architecture) for your site you are bound to face trouble.

Q2) How many number of  transactions  can site support ?

You are trying to dig vendor more for answers on ability to handle customers per minute/per hour. Imagine you decided to spend 10 lakhs per month on advertising budget which helps you draw 10 lakh customers. If your site only has potential to handle 25% of the load whats the point spending so much money in bringing in customer.Use terminalogies like Co-current transactions, capbility of architecture implemented, is the site database dependent for transaction or application is live in itself to manage transactions before putting load on database.

Q3) Experience with E-Payments System?

This is very important for an e-commerce vendor. If the e-commerce vendor cannot advice on the best suitable e-payment system for your platform and does not have integration experience, This should be enough hint for you to start looking for another vendor. As by integration it doesnt mean just integrating code. But advicing you on Average ticket size based on previous e-payments system. Possible number of chargebacks expected what kind of percentage should be negotiated with banks. Should mobile payments be encouraged. etc etc

Q4) Managing supply chain is it just simple as shipping to customer ?

Supply chain begins with Inventory management. Using web as a channel of sales is ability to reduce inventory and manage stock just to predicted requirement. What strategy does the vendor help you in devising to push sales of items available largely in stock and charge premium for items in demand but low in stock.  Does the e-commerce vendor allow you to manage stock in batches

Q5) Help Desk assistance ?

What kind of support services are provided by vendor. Is someone always looking after your IT infrastructure to see business runs smooth. Is their a self service portal provided by vendor to manage your requests. What kind of Quality SLA’s is vendor ready to include to help you give maximum benefit.

Q6) What kind of IT infrastructure vendor expect you  to setup to manage operations?

Q7) Whats ongoing maintainance cost ?

Q8) What kind of research and development does vendor carry out in field of e-retailing ?

You are trying to understand ability of vendor to keep innovating to help you keep you as leader in your segment. Look at  e-commerce and e-retailing research which can benefit your business in long term.

Q9) What kind of customers have they managed?

Please not this is an very important question as its non technical in nature. Most of the e-commerce consultants are techies instead of business consultants in india. So the outlook of their company is similar, request information on what kind of customers do they have and what kind of implementation they carried out. request information in terms of revenue and customer base achieved from the site. Try to mould more questions from the questions related to your site like number of transactions the system can manage, have they done advertising campaign or how many new features have they added in last 12 months etc.

Q10)  What percentage of their customers have been successful with ventures?

Ans concentrate on the customers ones being unsucessful. The reason you are trying to find out of vendor was cause of project failure.

Once you are sucessfully able to get answers to the above 10 questions asked you will realize the true potential of your e-commerce vendor. This all has been based on my experience setting up Cyberica E-Retailing Solutions practice.

We meet so many customers and their outlook on selection of vendor is more on technology showcase instead of business problem. Hence we came up with a questionaire which help customer evaluate vendors on basis of technical understanding as well as business operational knowledge. As its important for customers to understand when they dont have technical knowledge to manage the channel then why evaluate a vendor only on technical capabilities. Vendors ability to talk to customer in business language is very important.

E-commerce 2.0 – Online Shopping is India Ready

With futurebazzar.com starting to advertise in media about their online shopping website. It looks like comming in of a new wave of online shopping portals which will start to mushroom up. Though this time game and strategy will be all together different. First of all customers will be comming online not because of value online shopping derieve but convienance of shopping at the same branded retailer they do offline. As trust is the biggest factor downplaying use of internet as online medium for shopping.

Once the brands are able to establish trust factor they will be able to service large section of customers they were not able to reach out with products they could not put on shelves and by just maitaining JIT (Just-In-Time) inventory management technique. But to encourage such online ventures its important for manufacturers to create IT infrastructure which helps in real time information sharing for creating a value chain which benefit both the vendor and supplier.

Majorly following factors can be termed as potential reason for growth of B2C sales for India in 2007-08

– Retail sector will become more organized and establishment of brand names

-Broadband Penetration

– New method of E-Payments like cash card, net banking etc being promoted for online transactions

– Mobile phone acting as delivery point of information and potential sales channel.

Lets keep a wait and watch situtation for now.

Indian Online Deal Aggregator – New channel for E-Retailing

In continuation with our effort to bring out advantages of e-retailing. We look at online deal aggregator and how they are different from comparision website and value they can help you derieve.

Worldwide scenario is seeing rise of e-retailing with retailers who had invested in online sales channel comming out of red. This is a sign of encouragement for new breed of organized retailers joining the bandwagon to take the advantage.

Retailers need to maximize their interest by creating online pressence which is compatiable with new channels like comparision shopping websites,online deal aggregation sites etc.

About Online Deal Aggregators

In the west they are also called the leachers but personally i feel that these sites help consumers reduce time in sniffing through dozens of e-retailer sites for finding deal of the week. Its a newsletter website open for public advantage with link directly to the product page on merchants website. They are not selling things to you their motive is to provide right information at right time

Difference between online deal aggregators and comparision shopping websites

comparision shopping websites need more than 2 merchants offering same product for them to compare online. Now With e-retailing still a niche we dont have smaller merchants playing in this space competing at price factor to catch consumers. Most of them people joining the e-retailing bandwagon at this stage are manufacturers directly.

But Doest Fabmall.com, Indiatimes shopping and rediff shopping exist to provide comparision ?

well as an organization foraying into e-retailing one need to understand all of the mentioned providers are e-commerce platforms. They help merchants setup shop and host their catalogue. So same merchant can be hosting his catalog at rediff shopping and indiatimes shopping. This defeats the purpose for comparision shopping websites.

So How to make your Online Shopping cart compatiable for these channels ?

Se for indian retailers cost is a big factor so for now will advice them to look at RSS – catalog syndication this will benefit them in reaching out to a larger audience and be ready portals corping up as new sales channels.

More of this will get answer from this small email interview with Nidhi Modi from allindiadeal.com which will help you understand the new medium of online deal aggregator and whats in for any e-retailer/merchant.

 

How does allindiadeals.com differentiate from other shopping aggregation sites like ULTOP?

www.allindiadeals.com is primarily focused on serving best deals to its visitors. However ULTOP is a good effort to bring the online comparison shopping in India.

We publish new deals everyday or sometimes even 2-3 times a day to serve the fresh data to the shoppers. Lot of people purchase stuff when they find a good deal on it, whether or not it’s on their immediate shopping list. Users visit our site to check the daily deals and plan to buy a product if they are getting something for really cheap prices. I would like to visit Ultop when I would like do initial research about the product, compare or read reviews but it tedious to visit every product to find the good deals.

With live feeds of catalogue not available how are you managing to keep track of new items being posted?

Currently the process is manual, so we do all the hard work of searching the shopping websites and gathering information. Not getting the live feed catalogs from big online merchant is the main constraint.

We understand that we cannot scale up with the manual process and hence moving towards automation (or better call it semi-automated). We have some 22 sellers/merchants registered with us who provide us their catalog data and the number is growing everyday. These merchant are companies like www.gadgets.in and sellers on shopping portals like rediff or Indiatimes and provide us the data in our format.

Deals cease to publish on the expiry date mentioned by the merchant. Also our team checks the website to remove any stale deals.

I had a good discussion with the ileher.com team in Redmond, WA few weeks back regarding the need for automation. You can check the summary of our discussion on

http://ileher.com/2007/01/19/hungry-for-online-deals

What is current site usage statistics in terms of hits etc. How are you monitoring user click through to other shopping sites?

With online shopping is in nascent stage in India, we have around 1500-1700 page loads everyday with 500-600 unique users. However we are getting word of mouth publicity and visitor trend seems to be good.

Yes, we do register the clicks to analyze the traffic we send to other shopping website. Recently we started sharing this data with registered merchant to show them the value addition we are doing to their business.

What is your basic revenue model and what volumes do you need to generate to become a major force or starting point for Indian shoppers?

We do have a revenue model but still not any significant revenues to mention however we earn some money through Google ads. But Google ads are not our main focus for revenues. We plan to move to CPC model soon and also actively looking for affiliation programs.

We just started our journey and it’s a way to go to become a primary online shopping source for Indian shoppers. But we are running fast!

Your own views on e-retailing scenario in India and is their enough products available in Indian internet online space for an online aggregator to function?

There are 38.5 million Indians online as per the last forecast from IAMAI. The Internet offers an audience that will grow to a 100 million users by 2007-08.

Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) forecasts that e-commerce transactions will cross the Rs 2000 crore mark (2006-2007) which translates into an increase of over 300% from financial year 2004-05.

Great opportunities for merchant and consumer are about to unfold. I agree that e-retailing is still to pick up but it going to explode in a year or so.

e-retailer’s with the advantage of low operating cost with give retailer (only with offline presence) run for their money. Big retailer needs to create an online presence like www.futurebazaar.com, the latest offering from Pantaloon Retails.

There may not be sufficient products available online currently but they will be available in very near future. Anyone who wants to play this game should buckle their shoes now!


Contact Details

E-mail:siddharthpuri@gmail.com Call Me :+91-9910444460
July 2020
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