January 9, 2015
In the 90s we saw the dot com boom; do we perceive the e-commerce sector growth in India with the same hype? Well, it’s booming for sure but what happens next is yet to be seen. The intense competition in this space, especially among the top 3 players is good for the consumers. Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal, all of them have raised investments or have commitments of $1 Billion or more. All 3 work on a marketplace model but have some areas where they excel or differ from one another as to be able to grow rapidly in a short span of time is the real aim. Flipkart follows an invite-only model to sign on sellers which is more time-consuming. Note that Amazon doesn’t sell, but it is a glorified marketplace, for now; competing with Ebay in that space; whilst Flipkart has also launched a similar service. Not to forget other promising entities like Yebhi, Quickr which are also making a shout-in in other categories. In the classifieds sector the Indian based Quickr is facing stiff competition from the OLX.
When and who will come out as the outright winner and why? Compare the data below.
Initially, before Amazon entered the Indian market, the industry had several players Flipkart, Myntra, Snapdeal, Let’s Buy, India Times Shopping, Fashion and You and others.
With huge funding coming from foreign investors like Softbank to huge VCs betting on them, the big fish, the piranhas started consolidating and eating up (acquiring) smaller players like Let’s Buy, Urban Touch etc.
Market share of these sharks has increased considerably. The three major Players are Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal. We can’t envisage any new player emerging from the mirage.
The sharks have now become bigger for the ocean as Flipkart acquired Myntra. Money is being poured in at an alarming rate. As Flipkart announced a $1 billion financing, Amazon decided to steal Filpkart’s thunder by announcing that it would invest $2 billion in its Indian entity. Tapping the maximum possible market is the key & obviously demographics are a factor.
The final Scenario Only 2 major players left. Flipkart and Amazon have to survive this. Snapdeal has an outside shot. Flipkart will go for an IPO in either US or Singapore (* Flipkart files to become a public company). E-commerce will eventually drive towards profitability though, the smaller sharks will be eaten up by the bigger ones, either via acquisitions – or we’d see plenty of mid-size sharks forming alliances.
The online commerce market in India has a very low penetration. We haven’t even begun to scorch the surface here in terms of potential. India does something around $3 billion a year in Commerce; whilst China does something around $100+ billion major due to the Jack Ma led Alibaba which recently got listed on NYSE (*Alibaba valuation analysis).
As of today, the biggest player in this market is Flipkart, followed by the rest. Amazon has covered a good percentage of market in a short time, but the race has just started & Flipkart’s already some paces ahead, for now. Flipkart’s investors knew that the real e-commerce battle in India was not Flipkart versus Infibeam or Snapdeal. They knew even before the launch of Amazon.in that the real contender was Amazon.
Amazon India’s sales are estimated at over $200 million (Rs 1,200 crore). It took flipkart 7 years to achieve the sales numbers, snapdeal expects to reach it this year while amazon might clock Rs 6,000 crore by the end of March 2016.
India’s biggies, Wipro’s Azim Premji and Infosys’ N R Narayana Murthy, have placed their bets on the burgeoning $3-billion e-commerce market space too. Azim Premji has sided with Myntra (acquired by flipkart) & Snapdeal while Narayana Murthy has placed his faith on Amazon.
There’s not going to be one clear winner considering the funds these firms are pooling in. Over the next few years, each of these companies will find a niche that they’d dominate, and go for aggressive expansion. And India is a huge market, and whosoever scales faster the better. It has become a three-headed race. But everyone is just as well equipped to scale as fast as anyone; so then it will all boil down to branding, and management. The fight is not just about logistics but also about penetration, eventually though all boils down to the revenue.
The market is too big, and a large amount of population is yet to put internet to productive use; we can see the internet of things put to work to a huge-ass market like India. However, the concept of IOT is yet not established as compared to the developed markets.
In the next 5 years, the landscape will completely change. Flipkart and Snapdeal will diversify in other sectors and will no longer be just an e-commerce site. Just how Amazon has invested in Kindle, cloud services etc. Flipkart had started a payment called Payzippy; though it didn’t work out for them. They are trying to expand across various channels that’ll add to their revenue.
The Indian online customer is typically aloof, and seeks the cheapest possible product across all platforms. The online marketplace becomes a hunting ground for the best deals, with multinational behemoths and Indian ecommerce giants fighting offering huge discounts to lure customers. Well, all the aggressive pricing and discounts are being paid by Venture Capitalists’ pockets. This has given rise to sites/platforms MySmartPrice / Price baba et al.
The intensity of competition has heightened & it’s really hard to predict who gets the top slot. And the fight for the zenith in the $3.1 billion Indian ecommerce industry has evolved into a three-headed affair. Firstly, Amazon Inc (Market Cap: $143 billion), which entered India last but has seen enormous growth considering the time-frame. DST Global backed Flipkart, with its recent funding of $210 million from the Russian firm, has now received nearly $780 million in funds in total. We all know that Flipkart recently paid $300-330 million to acquire the fashion e-store Myntra to gain a foothold in the fashion space. And lastly, Snapdeal, which raised $100 million via Temasek Holdings, BlackRock Inc and PremjiInvest (*Snapdeal valuation analysis). It had earlier pooled $134 million from eBay Inc and et al.
What do you think? Who will be the leader in 2015? Tell us in the comments section below
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