Once the space of online shopping was confined to some corner of an e-mail service provider’s platform. It was also the time when shopping malls began to sprout across the major cities in India. Their footprint, however, wasn’t as widespread as those in other developing nations. As a result, despite their presence, malls and supermarkets in most cities still remained not easily accessible. What was more interesting was that the Indian middle class population was growing and they were endowed with something unprecedented, greater disposable income. Today, quite a lot of them have become well-wheeled and whose taste has diversified.
In this backdrop, the like of Flipkart, Yebhi and others found a greater space where they could experiment ideas which were to turn bigger eventually. Online platforms were viewed with a great degree of suspicion and most importantly online transaction was treated with greater degree of distrust. Today, the story of India’s e-commerce is that of an evolved one: multiple players have emerged; larger ones have swallowed up the smaller ones; exchange as well as try-and-purchase services have been introduced; 3D has been incorporated; logistics and payment options have grown longer; even the definitions they use to describe their nature of business.
In spite this swift and prospective story, and primarily most of them enjoying easy access to capital, profits seem to be most elusive up until now. Only when some of the major players ran out of cash to burn, then they bowed out of the competition and thus creating an ecosystem where the bigger fish or those with deeper pocket gobble up the smaller ones. What’s interesting and have not been questioned constantly is their business model. At a such a juncture, what is most easy and relevant question is, how long they can continue relying on a model that hasn’t helped them make any profits? Another being, how rational it is for major e-tailers to invest heavily in India?
On the Cover: Pic Courtesy: Partnership with Da Milano.