Tag Archives: amazon

Analyzing Amazon.in Checkout Process

I recently made a purchase on Amazon.in and couldn’t but wonder at their checkout process. Just too many clicks for comfort.
Here’s how it works at present

Step 1) Product Page 

Product Page - Amazon.in

 

Step 2) Edit Cart or Proceed Page

Edit Cart or Proceed - Amazon.in

 

Step 3) Sign in/Sign up Page

Login/Sign up Page - Amazon.in

 

Step 4) Delivery address Page

Delivery Address - Amazon.in

Step 5) Delivery options page

Delivery Options - Amazon.in

Step 6) Payment Method Page

Payment Method Page - Amazon.in

 

Step 7) Review Order Page

Review order page - Amazon.in

 

Step 8) Billing Address Page

Billing Address Page - Amazon.in

 

Step 9) Order Completion Page

Order Completion Page - Amazon.in

 

Phew !! With these many clicks Amazon is making sure that only the users absolutely committed to make a purchase are the ones who make one.

Nine steps to the order confirmation page. Wow. Let’s try to see if we can make things a bit better (less clicky)

  1.  The easiest way around would have been to allow ‘1-click checkout’. Which for some reason isn’t available.
  2. Step 2: The importance of this page is to help those who want to review their cart. Not sure why would Amazon want people to doubt their purchase, unless they have over the period seen people change their cart contents during later stages of checkout or raised a of issues complaining of shopping wrongly.They should encourage users to add more items ala ‘Continue Shopping’ as it is popularly known or checkout. Ideally, however there should be an analysis of the % of people who buy 1 item vs % of people who buy multiple items. The experience should be made smoother for the majority case. It could just be a pop up and not a new page
  3. Step 3: Is an important one. Auto-saved credentials make things easier. I am not getting into the design of the page as in this case, it gets the job done in a single click
  4. Step 4 and 5 : I don’t really feel the need of having two separate pages for choosing delivery address and delivery options unless there are multiple addresses and options in question. The assumption here is most people would order to a single address. This could however be validated by data on median delivery addresses. Assuming most people will not change their address during the flow, I think in the step 5 there should be an option to change address without giving it a separate page.
    UI could definitely be improved 🙂Delivery Address and Options Page - Amazon.in
  5. Step 6: This is perhaps the most important page. The option of putting saved cards makes things easy. Just enter CVV and continue. The layout of other payment options is a discussion to be had another day
  6. Step 7: ‘Review Order’. Wait, why would I want to review order after putting my payment details? Shouldn’t this page come before the payments page?  Step 7 should be Step 6. And Step 6 should be Step 7 with an option (selected by default ) “billing address to be same as shipping address”. An option to change billing address is going to be there of course. I simply don’t see a reason to have Step 8 “Choosing Billing Address” as a separate page.
  7.  Step 9: Order completion page. Informative and having some baits for users to view more items or make another purchase .So here’s the revised flowStep 1 (Product Page) – Page 1
    Product Page - Amazon.in
    S
    tep 2 (Continue Shopping vs Checkout) to come as a popup on clicking Buy from product page and not a separate page
    Edit Cart or Proceed - Amazon.in
    S
    tep 3 (Sign in/Sign up Page)- Page 2

    Login/Sign up Page - Amazon.inStep 4 (Delivery Address and Options Page) – Page 3

    Delivery address and options page - Amazon.in

    Step 5 (Review order page) – Page 4

    Review order page - Amazon.in
    Step 6 (Payments Page with Billing Address option) – Page 5

    Payment Method Page - Amazon.in
    Billing address option could also be a part of the delivery address and options page. But in no case it deserves a separate page

    Step 7 (Order completion page) – Page 6

    Order Completion Page - Amazon.in
    Though in the new order we are down to Six pages from Nine (33.33% lesser pages). I am sure this can be optimized by at least one more page by clubbing ‘Review Order’ and ‘Delivery Address and Options’ Page. For now 5 pages are good enough.

    Eventually a one click checkout for single product purchases is in order .

    What do you think?

Assocham-Comscore State of eCommerce in India – Report

In Sep 2012 Assocham together with Comscore came out with a report on the Indian ecommerce Scene. It had some known and some new stats/key points. You can download the report here

Here are the main points 

Demographics
  1. 75% of online audience between the age group of 15-34 years
  2. Female population is about 40% of total users (July 2012)
Travel
  • The penetration in India is about 44% which is higher than the world average for travel
  • IRCTC get about 19.2% of all Indian online traffic (highest – 12mn uniques/month) followed by Makemytrip
  • Redbus gets about 2%
  • Surprise: Content type sites for ex: indiarailinfo (3.2%) and mustseeindia (2.3%)
  • Travelyaari and Makemytrip (2.3 mn uniques a month)
Retail
  • The penetration in India is about 60% which is lower than the world average for retail (72%)
  • Amazon gets about 15.4%, Flipkart (11.5% – 7.4 mn uniques/month), Snapdeal (11.1% – 6.9 mn uniques/month) of all India online traffic
  • Apparel is the most growing subsegment in retail
  • Flowers/gifts/greetings is the only subsegment with negative growth – 33% (Our coupons??)
Breakup of Payment Methods in India
  1. Direct Debit – 58% with avg transaction of 20$ (lowest)
  2. Visa – 21% with avg transaction of 48$
  3. Master card – 12% with avg transaction of 47$
  4. Cash on Delivery – 7% with avg transaction of 33$
  5. Others – 2% with avg transaction of 43$
  6. American Express cards apparently have the highest avg transaction size of 110$
IRCTC Specific Info 
  • SBI and SBI Direct – 29 +26 = 55% of all transactions
  • ICICI (17%), HDFC (14%)
  • Do a revenue of about 38 Cr
 Future 
  • Car rentals and bus booking online should go further up
  • home furnishing and lifestyle goods to contribute more
  • comparison shopping sites/apps to get more popularity

The Rise of the Indian Online Marketplace

If you are part of/related to the Indian e-commerce scene in any manner or read desi start-up blogs, chances are you might be familiar with the concept of Marketplace.

A “Marketplace” connects buyers and sellers who otherwise have trouble finding each other.

Marketplace(think eBay), is simply a model which has multiple sellers providing various goods/services through a platform. In the context of this discussion, an e-commerce website instead of sourcing and fulfilling the orders just manages the listing of products and passes on the order details to the sellers who then handles them.

Recently, India’s biggest online retailer (Flipkart) made their first move as a part of shift towards the marketplace set up.

To start with, Flipkart has on-board 50 sellers that will sell books, media, and consumer electronics.

Other Indian online retailers on scaled up marketplace model are Snapdeal(which recently raised $ 50 mn from ebay and others), Tradus, Infibeam and Shopclues. Let’s understand how the marketplace model and inventory led model compare in execution

The key components of an e-commerce set up are

  1. Customer Acquisition
  2. Catalog
  3. Technology (Customer facing/related and backend)
  4. Inventory
  5. Fulfillment (Sourcing, Packaging and Delivery)
  6. Payment Processing
  7. Customer Service/Support

Setting everything up for a rookie is quite demanding (capital and effort wise) and will take months to get off the ground, however to signup as a seller on a marketplace and/or opening a shop using SaaS based ecommerce store building platforms like Zepo, Buildabazaar or Martjack is a quickie. So for a newbie it makes perfect sense to open up their own shop (SaaS) and list on various marketplaces as a seller

Based on one’s expertise and priorities there are various ways of building the e-commerce store set up. For eg: while someone will prefer to control the last mile delivery experience, someone would rather let logistics companies take care of that.

The most common model is mix of Inventory led and Marketplace both (think Amazon). Here’s how it works

  1. Inventory Led – Short Tail (Fast moving, Commodity products, Easy to warehouse for ex: best selling books/movies/pendrives etc)
  2. Marketplace – Long Tail (Slow moving, Niche products, Difficult to warehouse for ex: medical books published in hindi/very old foreign language films/Furniture etc)

While it might not very clear from the examples but Inventory led model makes sense for products which aren’t perishable(both utility and demand/vogue), are easily available offline too and move fast enough while the Marketplace model makes sense for products which one doesn’t know exist or even if one knows they don’t have any clue on how to stock them, how to source them etc.

Customer Acquisition,Technology,Payment Processing and Customer Support are done by the e-commerce company.

Here’s how various models are implemented in some of the biggest Indian e-commerce companies.

break_up

A couple questions come to the the curious mind.

  1. Why sudden rush towards Marketplace all across?
  2. Is Marketplace the future of e-commerce in India?

1. Why sudden rush towards Marketplace all across?

The answer to that question (from what I’ve heard) lies in the deep VC pockets. With the Govt of India dillydallying around the FDI regulations for e-commerce, apparently Marketplace is the only way to get external funding needed to sustain the business.

Also, it could be because the bigger e-commerce companies have figured out that

a) they can’t possibly go that strong on increasing the  quality/quantity of the catalog on their own
b) they ran sick and tired of doing everything on their own.

To get a sense, compare how Flipkart was managing these functions in it’s previous avatar and compare it to say Snapdeal

 

break_up1

2. Is that the future of e-commerce in India?

On doing some rough calculations based on the information available Flipkart, Infibeam, Snapdeal, Jabong, Bookadda and Homeshop together would be doing around 1,15,000 orders a day (Flipkart and Snapdeal contributing about 60-70 %).

There are a lot more sites (ending with kart and otherwise) who just might be doing another (20-30,000 transactions or more a day)

As per my guesstimate all independent smaller e-commerce websites and platform powered online shops selling long tail products would be doing not more than 5-10,000 orders a day.These numbers could be significantly different from the mark for all we know but based on these numbers before marketplace became the buzzword, top 5-6 established players were doing about 90,000-95,000 orders a day in total while the others in long tail were about 5-10% of their size.

The balance has started to shift towards the marketplace model transactions. For now their share could be 10-15% of the overall e-commerce transactions.  Going forward we’ll a lot more smaller businesses and niche startups coming online and by 2013 end their share could be upwards of 20-25%(going by the fact that between Flipkart and Snapdeal they are the biggest online retailers).

A couple of factors to speed this up would be

  1. More platforms like Buildabazaar and Zepo
  2. Better payment gateway/cash collection mechanisms (Ghar pay etc)
  3. Better logistics (for end to end fulfillment)
  4. Third party SaaS services for other components like (Catalog, Warehousing, Customer Support)
  5. Some VC investment in 1-2 marketplace companies

The sooner we get to see the above mentioned things rolling the faster we’ll get to the long tail moving online. At some time in the  mid term future(5-7 years) the demand for long tail items (Niche/scarcely available/custom made) products could become comparable if not more than the demand for short tail products.

So the marketplace model and independent shops powered by various sites are here to stay and the current biggies like Flipkart, or maybe Snapdeal will evolve into a mix of (Short tail – Inventory led – Self Fulfilled and Long tail – marketplace – Logistics company) models.

Your thoughts?

Get Big Fast or Get Better Slow?

Get Big Fast, a phrase most commonly attributed to Amazon Phenomenon of acquiring significant market share in your category in very little time but growing extremely fast. The numbers in cases such as these don’t grow linearly but exponentially. The Get Big Fast philosophy requires extreme focus on scaling operations, hiring, aggressive marketing and short product cycles. The targets set for the growth might look unreasonably high to some but that’s the only way this works, Get Big Fast and become the leader in your category before anyone else so that now your Scale also works as a Differentiator.

The other or rather opposite approach that most businesses wittingly or unwittingly end up with is what I call Get Better Slow. This happens in most startups. They have reasonable growth targets and work on a moderate or slow pace to achieve them. Part of the reason is lack of clarity or conviction about the end goal and part is the lack of firepower among other things. Interestingly the Get Better Slow option is the default for most startups and many a times without the founders realizing they approach this with the perspective of doing more groundwork, thinking deep, organic growth and what not.

While I don’t mean to say that a startup growing slowly would stay like that forever but what I really mean is that unless the founders and team consciously choose to set and attain unreasonably high growth targets, their chances of staying in the business as a significant player are quite less. To give you some context, for someone doubling the revenue in six months might be great but for someone doubling revenue in 2 months is the desperate need and unless the need is desperate, ones chances of getting there are a bit less.

Also, in many cases Get Big Fast Vs Get Better Slow turns into Growth Vs Revenue. While one startup might keep focus on revenue/monetization, the other might just do the opposite to make sure that monetization doesn’t distract them from growth. It’s actually one of most crucial decisions for a startup, a HUGE BET which in most cases doesn’t pay off well.

The more I think about it, the more I am inclined to like the Get Big Fast philosophy which involves stretching out to the hilt, tons of small and big experiments and very short learning cycles. On the contrary the Get Better Slow philosophy which appears to be grounded on the thought of making a sustainable, quality/customer centric business actually hurts the startups more because of the comparatively slower iteration cycles which in most cases lead to losing traction or a considerable part of the market to competitors who manage to Get Big Fast, which effectively means that tough you think you are doing a great job for your customers but your customer set is so small that it doesn’t change much in the bigger scheme of things

Get Better Slow:  Get Big Fast:: Passion: Obsession

What do you think?

Amazon’s Junglee.com joins the Indian E-commerce Party

 

A couple days back I read this article on Medianama which shared that Amazon will soon go live  in India as a marketplace with Junglee.com, but a tweet  today morning  announcing that Junglee.com is live caught me by surprise.

Amazon, of course was expected to test waters in India this year but the whole junglee.com gig is away from most people’s anticipation of how it will all unwrap.

Amazon for the records is the the biggest global e-retail/e-tail giant which posted $17.43bn in revenues in last quarter of 2011 (35% more than the revenue for same quarter in 2010). The company net sales were up 37% compared with 2010.

Amazon is India

There was a lot of speculation particularly for the last six months about Amazon’s entry to India. Amazon as countless sources have shared, already have development centers in India and had started looking for talent for their fulfillment capabilities.  As per the current regulations Amazon is not allowed to open an online Multi-brand retail store, and can not make FDI  in India except for a single brand retail business, thus Junglee.

Amazon’s Junglee

Here’s how Amazon describes it

“Junglee is an online shopping service by Amazon which enables customers to find and discover products from online and offline retailers in India and from Amazon.com. Junglee organizes massive selection and multiple buying options from hundreds of sellers, and leverages Amazon’s proven technologies and millions of customer reviews to help customers make smart purchase decisions.”

For the uninitiated Junglee is like a Huge Brochure which lists  millions of products from thousands of vendors. You choose the product that you want to buy and then go the vendor site or call them to order as explained here



Here’s a look at one of the category(Books) page

 

Just one book, also I am not sure why am I being shown featured jeans when I categorically chose books.  Bugs.

Here’s a sample product page(for Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist)


Amazon apparently relies of it’s own site for Metadata (Product Description for ex) which in some cases can be really screwed up like for the book ‘I Too Had A Love Story’

The product description is picked from http://www.amazon.com/I-Too-Had-Love-Story/dp/8188575704 and is as far from the actual book description as it can be http://www.dialabook.in/books/i-too-had-a-love-story_1_12247.html

Scrolling down further is the review section. Most part of this section comes directly from Amazon.com



List of Sellers

 

Junglee.com for now has about 5 sellers for Books which includes names that probably feature towards the middle(and bottom) spots of a list of top 10 online booksellers in India. Almost everything from the list except Flipkart and Infibeam can be expected to list here.

Using Junglee as a Seller: Win Some, Lose Some

 

Junglee let’s online and offline retailers to list themselves and their catalogues for free and without any ongoing commission.

 

What it means for suppliers (especially small time indies) is that they get a chance to  drive traffic and sales from Junglee’s visitors and will convert some customers to direct. Over a period of time as in an online marketplace set up their ratings and reviews will determine how they fare in the long run.

The picture however isn’t all rosy. For established players like Indiaplaza (unless there is some non-compete or alliance agreement) registering on Junglee will give them a temporary boost in terms of both traffic and eventually sales but once Junglee starts running it will break its shackles and given them a run for their money by listing Amazon.in as the default/first choice as a buyer. Once that happens the customers will make the switch to Amazon (in place of a retailer they found a few months back) with the blink of an eye.

(http://services.amazon.in has more details on how to set up ads on Junglee.com)

Using Junglee as a Customer: All Profit No Loss

Junglee.com is another (but branded) shiny object for the scores of people who spend hours daily on the interwebs tweeting or facebooking. They know have one more place to spend time and compare prices. It will be helpful in finding alternative vendors for particular categories and helpful in finding product categories that have been literally out of the online sphere, stuff like Pet Supplies.

Within a span of months you’ll find dozens of people selling Pet Supplies and the likes on Junglee. What this means is that consumers won’t have to wait for their favorite e-commerce site to add some category or a stand alone/vertical service around the category to launch.

What’s up with Amazon?: Junglee is the shortest(and smartest) possible path

To begin their tryst with India  Amazon is trying to be the front end(influencer) of the purchase funnel in stead of starting being a back end service provider. It wants Indians to log on to Junglee.com to begin their shopping journey (they can or cannot decide to buy from Amazon) but eventually they’ll make it their in house offers compelling enough to get a huge chunk of the pie.

Here’s how it could unfold for Amazon. Junglee is essentially the market place of Amazon.com abstracted and launched a special business for legal and other reasons.  In Amazon.com’s marketplace lot of vendors put their goods on sale and do most of the fulfillment too. Amazon however displays their products and collects the payment from customers (Think Ebay).

What Works Good For Amazon

  1. Junglee will create an incoming line for new retailers to tie-up. Retailers will flock and list products instead of the company finding them using direct/in-direct modes of advertising or marketing.
  2. User Data: Millions of people could potentially sign up and start using Junglee to discover new products and vendors. All the user and their shopping history details are now available for scrutiny
  3. All Junglee’s set up  can eventually be replicated for Amazon.in’s market place feature
  4. A sense of how business works. Deeper/Closer look at how the things work
  5. Later they’ll start people for accepting payments and maybe coordinating deliveries (Customers buy a third party product from Junglee and Junglee home delivers a product which the third party retailer had in their office and sent to Amazon’s fulfillment center once they get an order). They stand to earn 2-10% commission depending on the product category and services they offer
  6. Use all the Seller info to tie-up directly for Amazon.in
  7. Based on user preferences start offering competitive prices and eventually *produce* them domestically

Having said all of that, Junglee is an interesting piece in the Indian e-commerce puzzle and it will definitely have an impact on the existing market leaders. Most Indians from what I understand would give an arm(or probably) a leg to switch to another cheaper vendor especially if it has Made in America tag on it.

What do you think?

Twitter and Activism

One early use of Twitter had El Fattah and a dozen or so of his collegues coordinating movements to surround a car in which their friend Malek was being held by the police, to prevent it and him from being towed away. Knowing they were being monitored, they then sent messages suggesting that many more of them were coming. The police sent reinforcements, surrounding and thus immobilizing the car themselves. This kept Malek in place until the press and the members of parliament arrived. The threat of bad publicity led to Malek’s release, an outcome that would have been hard to coordinate without Twitter – Here Comes Everybody, Clay Shirky

James Karl Buck, a graduate journalism student from the University of California-Berkeley was in Mahalla, Egypt, covering an anti-government protest when he and his translator, Mohammed Maree, were arrested. On his way to the police station, Buck took out his cell phone and sent a single word message, “Arrested”, to his friends and contacts using the micro-blogging site Twitter. This alerted them and helped secure his release(details not known)
cnn.com

Mortin Pain Reliever in an effort to pitch to mom who wear their babies released a print and video ad campaign.The campaign didn’t go down well with moms and they started fighting back on their blogs and Twitter. As the campaign picked momentum, the company officials realised their mistake and in order to pacify irrate customers, removed the ad from their website and apologised on their site.
parentinghelpme.com

A few weeks back amazon users realized that many books about gays, lesbians, bisexual and transsexual issues stopped appearing in relevant searches. Enraged users and authors swung into action and started posting updates on Twitter about this with adding a hashtag #amazonfail. It wasn’t long enough that Twitterverse was abuzz with #amazonfail, this led to a public communication by the company that this incident was inadvertant and soon things were fixed and back to normal.
bbc.com

Twitter is increasingly being used for activism of sorts. Be it customers protesting against a product/company, or citizens campaigning against their government officials/policies, Twitter is the platform of choice when it comes to raising your voice against an issue or coordinating a protest(online and offline both).

Social media activism has graduated from protests in blogosphere,  groups in social networking sites to #hashmobs on Twitter. The reasons for Twitter’s success as a platform for activism are

1) Critical Mass:  Twitter has gained enormous mass since last year and is now a force to reckon with. Millions of users from all parts of the world use it to stay connected with their friends and family. It’s not just people like you and me, there are some really big brands that have presence on Twitter.

2) Dense Connectivity: Twitter is one of the most densely connected networks of all. It won’t be wrong to say “On Twitter, everyone is connected to everyone”, which means getting the word out is a lot easier. Chances of people noticing something and sharing it with others is quite high. The ease of sharing content(RT )  is another reason for word to be spread easily.

3) Search: Awesome search functionality, made further useful by trending topics make the discoverability of memes a lot easier. With  the latest changes, everyone can see the trending topics on their Twitter page. This without any effort discoverability is really helpful in getting more eyeballs.

4) High visibility outside the platform: What makes a protest on Twitter better from say one of Facebook is that Twitter updates are more shareable(via blog widgets, feeds) than Facebook messages. Also, thanks to dozens of really popular tools, Twitter updates are just not limited to the website,  you can get updates on your desktop app, mobile phone and email.

5) Hooked Traditional Media: There’s enough traditional media presence on Twitter which is eager to pick the next big story. So anything of significance in Twitterverse is quite likely to be noticed by them and spread further.

It would be interesting to see how activism on Twitter evolves from this point on. I’d like to end this post by sharing a list of Twitter Activism related protests/campaigns.

1.  James Karl Buck: Arrested
2.  #MortinMoms
3.  StopPikeHike
4. Using Twitter to coordinate war protest
5. G20 summit protestors used Twitter and Facebook
6. Protest against Section92A, New Zealand
7. Inside Maldova’s Twitter revolution
8. Coordinating Malek’s release
9.  #AmazonFail
10.  Domino’s Social Media Disaster
11.  Twittering Forest Fires
12.  Twitter Charity(Twestival) raises more than US $250,000


Lastly here’s a nicely writter guide  by digiactive to get you started with Twitter Activism