Online shopping is not just about buying air tickets or seeking a credit card any more. Indiatimes is fast emerging as an online consumer durables mall. From microwaves, refrigerators, mobile phones to home theatres, indiatimes.com has facilitated customers to bid the lowest prices for branded consumer durables in India.
Modeled on a proprietary-pricing tool called 'Tell Your Price', the consumer is asked to put in a price on the product of his or her choice after going through the product specifications. During the course of the day, he/she is informed on email and SMS on the status of the bid. At the end of the day, winners are declared at prices that are not just lower than the MRP but also lower than the market operating prices. The only catch is that the consumer is not told upfront at the time of bidding which brand he will get, though he is aware of the brands participating in the auction.
The product portfolio includes all big brands in India like LG, Philips, Onida, Whirlpool, Godrej, among others. Apart from this, 'Tell Your Price' also auctions specific products like Philips Hi-Fi, Onida DVD players at prices much lower than the market operating prices.
Since its launch, more than 10,000 consumers have bought 3,000 ACs, 500 TVs, 400 microwaves and lots more. Prices have been as low as 1.5-ton Window ACs starting at Rs 9,990, 29" Flat TVs starting at Rs18,990, washing machines at Rs 3,790.
On the rationale behind this offer, Ashish Kashyap, General Manager, e-commerce, Times Internet Limited, says: "We are creating a unique supply chain at a differentiated price. This would give our customers true value and at the same time enjoy the pleasures of shopping for white goods and appliances."
Asked if customers are comfortable with e-shopping, he says, "Sixty five per cent of our customers have made repeat purchases. The numbers justify that they trust Indiatimes. There is a lot of transparency and this is what has enabled us to connect with the customers."
Which product categories give the highest margin? Says Kashyap: "The highest margin in Internet shopping is from books, videos, flowers, apparels and accessories."
Asked if Indiatimes is also looking at setting up a B2B base for distributors and manufactures, Kashyap said: "There are no such plans as of now. We are focused on retailing and our vision is to be the largest retailer."
Indiatimes e-commerce is India's largest online shopping mall, with over 300 categories and 100 merchants. The travel business comprises air ticket auctions for Indian Airlines, Air Sahara and Air-India and hotels from all destinations in India.