E-commerce platform, Indiatimes Shopping, part of the Times Internet Limited, recently announced that it has crossed the Rs 1 crore a day mark in sales and clocked over Rs 20 crore in July.
It revealed that the top-selling category on the portal is the mobile phone, with 40 per cent of the sales coming from this category. Other top selling categories are computers, mobile accessories, computer accessories, apparel and electronic goods. 17 per cent of the sales were gifts. The top grossing brands are also from the mobile phone category and include Blackberry, Nokia and Micromax. While 70 per cent of the sales still come from the metros, the company is expecting sales to rise from the tier-II and III cities with the increasing internet penetration in these areas.
Talking to exchange4media about the growth figures and the e-commerce market, Gautam Sinha, CTO & e-commerce Head, Times Internet Ltd, said, “In the fiscal year, we have seen a growth of nearly 100 per cent in both our business as well as transactions.”
Commenting on the figures, Mr Rishi Khiani, CEO of Times Internet Ltd said, “With a comprehensive range of products, the best deals and our reliable and timely service initiatives—like the next-day delivery promise—we have been seeing a constant rise in our sales. We will continue to build on these strengths that our customers have come to expect from us. Our mission is to delight each and every customer on our portal.”
The growth drivers
Discussing about the drivers behind the growth for the seven-year old shopping portal, Sinha said, “When we started out the business we used it for demand aggregation and had a list of suppliers at the backend who would complete the order. So the order was collected by Indiatimes, but the fulfillment was done by the backend supplier. Over the last year and a half, we started taking ownership of more and more process, which impacts our consumer experience. So even though there was a supplier on the map, we used to send our representative to pick the product, package it and ship it. This way we controlled more of the customer experience point of view as we know exactly what is shipped and when it is shipped.”
Indiatimes has also started a pilot in Delhi which gives the option of ‘next day delivery’. Sinha said, “In this manner we are further improvising the process of delivery and consumer experience. These changes have led to a tighter control and a lot of increase in traffic from the consumer’s end, driving our business up.”
There are four kinds of challenges that e-commerce businesses face believes Sinha. He explains, “The largest challenge is the logistics – shipping a product. As the businesses are not mature enough to manage it on your own, you have to rely on a third party to deliver. This dependence makes the delivery in a pre-defined time period difficult.”
The second challenge is the reliability of payment gateway infrastructure in India. One out of six transactions would not go through the system, because of the reliability of the payment gateway system offered in India claims Sinha.
The third challenge is that the taxation that varies from state to state in India. Sinha said, “An e-commerce portal has to deliver products across states – so we have to follow different rules for different states. RBI guidelines are not very helpful for e-commerce businesses in India either. Fourthly, we face a challenge when it comes to the PC and internet penetration in India. It is not as good as we would like it to be.”
Talking about the future of e-commerce in the country, he said, “I think it is a very exciting time for all the players in India. We have just seen the first intersection point of growth in India. Customer interest has increased in e-commerce. All the companies are recently well capitalized. This is just the beginning and it is only going to improve from here for the consumers. There will be a lot of innovations happening for the entire value chain, the prices will continue to drop for the consumers with the transactions and efficiency increasing. We do hope to see a lot of conversions from offline retail to online retail in the next few years.”
Indiatimes has also launched a new e-commerce portal for NRIs. Sinha said, “NRIs are very interesting and important for us. As per our estimate, the NRI population will be around 30 million at the moment, of which 20 per cent are accessible over the Internet.”
“We have been looking at this opportunity, and attempted to understand the products which this demographic wants to buy. So we have launched a site just targeting the NRI customers, where we feature products which are aspirational and designer in nature,” he added.