Tag Archives: india

Inside the mind of an Indian online shopper: How & Where I spent my money online in 2014

Last year, around the same I time I posted a quick analysis of my spends across various e-comm sites. Thought of repeating the exercise again and see what all changed

1) Split of orders across sites

Split of Orders Across Sites


Not surprisingly, I placed the most orders in 2014 on Paytm (close to 70%), followed by Freecharge (8%), Flipkart (4.3%), Amazon & Bookmyshow. Various cashback schemes run on Paytm are the reason behind the skew of order count

Talking about physical goods #1 was Paytm (Aggressive offers early on), followed by Flipkart, Amazon & Jabong


2) Split of spend across sites

Split of Spend across sites


The story starts to clear up a bit when we look at split of spend across various sites

While 70% of orders I placed were on Paytm, 52% of the money I spent online went their. Flipkart (17.6%),  Jabong (14.1 %) & Myntra (3%) came next. The ticket size for Amazon has been quite less

3) Split of spend across categories

Split of spend across categories

This is quite revealing for me. While last year I spend considerable chunk of money (spent online) buying books, this year books formed a very small piece.

35% of money I spent shopping online last year, was spent on buying Electronics (mostly mobiles) & related Accessories. 25% was spent on recharges/bill payments and a significant change towards Fashion with 22% of my spend went there.

Some Interesting Bits:
1) I spent more ordering food online than buying books (Still can’t believe it or Maybe I got better deals at books 😉 )
2)  I spent more on Cab rentals than movies ( I don’t take cabs as much) and almost the same amount as I spent ordering food online
3) Between Fashion & Electronics – 57% of my money was spent

Purchase Summary
Orders placed: 321
Digital goods (recharges, bill payments and movies): 252

Money Spent: Rs 1,72,448
Money spent on Physical goods: 1,24,621

Closing Thoughts/points
1) I’m not the most savvy online purchaser but I do tend to compare prices before buying stuff and have started using mysmartprice and more recently  buyhutke (Chrome plugin)
2) Online mega sales trigger my purchases (super surprised to find out, I ordered on Myntra this GOSF after a break of 1 year from last GOSF). Made purchases on Big Billion Day and even Myntra’s “End of Reason” sale today
3) While I preferred purchasing on desktop (ease of selection, multiple tables, price comparison etc). I’ve started buying stuff straight of mobile. While for many purchases mobile still serves as the initiation point of my purchases and the same happens other way around, I add items to cart on web only to order them later on mobile when free
4) Most of my purchases (especially Fashion) are impulse (discount driven If I can admit), while Electronics etc are kinda planned
5) I’ve jumped the ship completely when it comes to paying by card. Almost, all my purchases (90% +) are pre-paid now.
6) Myntra and Jabong have spoiled me with their super easy return/exchange policies and flow. I don’t think twice before ordering stuff from them as I know I can always get the product returned/exchanged if I don’t like it. They also have superb delivery timelines (24 hours is a regular)
7) One thing I miss shopping online, is “Lack of Price Protection”. What you buy today for Rs 5000 can be available for say Rs 4000 and Rs 3500 the next day. As a buyer, you obviously feel bad about it
8) Newly caught trend of using wallets to pay on various sites to get discounts and cashbacks is a good incentive to use them. I’ve used Paytm, mobikwik and Payumoney, depending on the offers they are running.
9) I’m yet to order specs, furniture, grocery, health & wellness and things from a lot of these categories
10) Product wise – Wishlist and Rating/Reviews are by far the most useful features. Also, I love the feature to sort/filter using discount/offers (or the lack of them).

Hope, this post would help folks working in e-commerce get “some more idea” of their *Customers*


App Review – Thrill

Despite all the jig bang the Indian cyber space has kinda been hostile to the incumbents of online dating ecosystem. Dating as a concept is yet to catch up here but some of the newly launched mobile apps seemed determined to change that.

Thrill, is one such new dating app on the block ( H/T @pacificleo). Android based and targeted for Indian users.

Thrill App


Founded in Nov 2012 in Singapore by Josh Israel and Devin Serago. The USP of the app is that on Thrill, women have the absolute power to decide which guys to accept and reject.”He applies. She decides” goes the tagline

Apparently women in a man’s network have to approve for him to be able to join. Not sure, how it is actually implemented though

Let’s check out the app

1) Welcome Screen

Welcome Screen


2) Choose Location
Choose Location

The metros figure up on top of the list followed by other cities arranged alphabetically. Good thing

3) Apply & Wait

Apply & Wait


Thrill isn’t an open platform (at least it wasn’t when I used it for the first time last month). You apparently are placed in a queue to verify your profile and make it look exclusive. A social share in hopes of moving up the queue is a bonus.  I didn’t share socially but got an approval in a day or so

Thrill Approval Email


We will only connect you both if the feeling is mutual


4) Gender Selection, Sign up and Social profile Access

a) Gender


b) Sign up





Three screens to select gender, choose sign up via social profile and then grant access is an overkill.

Possible Alternatives:

Show screen 4b) first and add profile access disclaimer there itself. Ask for gender only if the user hasn’t filled in their gender in their profile.

Also, WHO/WHY would anybody sign in with their Linkedin Profile on a dating app? I’d be really interested in knowing what % of signups happen through linkedin. (Use Twitter or Google instead)

5) Dashboard


Comments: As a first time user, I have no clue what a “Match Batch” is and what’s the deal with “Points”. Anyways, I’d click “Start Your Thrill” as the call to action is quite powerful.

6) Starting Thrill

a) Select Category

Starting Thrill


Comments: This screen isn’t that intuitive, some overlays would help a newbie figure out how to go ahead.

b) Rate Category

Rating a category bit didn’t seem needed and also added an unnecessary extra step in the flow

c) Rate Item

Rate item
After rating a few items you get an option to view matches.

7) See Matches

shake to unock


See matches


Based on how you rated various items you are presented an unlock batch of matches, you can unlock some of them initially by shaking your phone or eventually by buying credits (Freemium mode #goodone)

Buy Points

This page where the user is supposed to choose how many points do they want to purchase isn’t quite clear. I am not sure if Deal 3 is for 500 points or 500 Rs. Also, some help on how much is 1 point for, and a few basic FAQs  in form of a link etc would be of appreciated.



Phew !!

Overall the app seems to be very neatly designed(UI and UX), is fairly fast and has an interesting  take on dating. The concept of rating various categories and items in them to be able to find a matching profile is fairly intuitive.

Initially it had some bugs (app freezing or crashing during certain events) which were fixed in subsequent updates.

I haven’t used dating apps so don’t really know what the ideal/expected scenario is. Do users keep using the app actively or they find a match or two and leave?

Apart from the extended workflows required for certain actions I am apprehensive on how would they solve the

  1. Should the part of rating be one time during on-boarding or a regular affair? For example if have I rated all food items, is it done or after some time there will be new items which I’d be required to rate to be able to find new set of matches? Perhaps the core experience could be made simpler and an easy win given to the user
  2. Chicken and Egg problem : Despite giving the app a spin for a few weeks, the overall user base didn’t seem to be increasing much. There is no way to know if more and more women are joining the app. I think unless this is the case or you find a match early one, I am not too sure why would someone keep coming back to the app.

Customer On boarding- 3/5
Engagement -2/5
Look and Feel – 4/5

Overall Rating:  3.5/5



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 

  1. 75% of online audience between the age group of 15-34 years
  2. Female population is about 40% of total users (July 2012)
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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.


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



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?

The Best of the Web: 26/6/2012

Looking for something interesting to read? I read the following links(and visited websites) today and liked, you might want to read them/check them out

  1. Too Big to Chug: How Our Sodas Got So Huge  (Gulp soft drinks? Might find it interesting)
  2. Science Acquires Indian Startup Pinpuff to Measure and Monetize Influence On Pinterest  (Interesting startup)
  3. Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years   (The classic epic post by Peter Norvig)
  4.  How can I learn to program in Python? (Quora post with links to some very useful resources)
  5. http://www.surveymonkey.com (Great site to create free surveys)

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?

Patch Adams & The Difficulty of Being Helpful

If you are an Indian and watch Hindi movies, chances are you must have heard of the hugely popular film “Munnabhai MBBS” starring Sanjay Dutt(as Munna) and Arshad Warsi(as Circuit). I too like millions others watched and re-watched the film to cherish the beautiful message of putting the human touch in Medicare and focusing on improving patients quality of life.

While the film was great, I (and most others) didn’t know that it was inspired (not copied, ok?) from Hollywood film Patch Adams. The bad bit is that Vidhu Vinod Chopra and co didn’t even bother to give credits to the film or the man himself at the end of the film.

Me and my brother happened to see the film yesterday and loved it to tears.  The best thing about the film however is that it’s based on real life story of Hunter “Patch” Adams . There’s nothing more beautiful and inspiring than a honest pursuit of  simple philosophy which one holds dear.

My immediate reaction after finishing the film at 1:30AM was to read more about the real Patch Adams and here’s what I found. There’s indeed a  Gesundheit Institute (you can read more about it here http://patchadams.org/) and Dr Patch Adams is alive and still trying to revolutionize the system.

While some of us might expect that after two films by two of the biggest film industries (Hollywood and Bollywood) things would have changed for Dr Patch Adams and Gesundheit Institute for good but sadly none of that happened, no big donations came forward their way and their team had to struggle to get the project off ground.

This talk shares more details about the real deal

What’s disappointing really is the fact no big names and not enough smaller ones came forward to support such a noble cause. Is it too Utopian to be true?

What do you think is the real reason?  What would it take to catch fancy of the Social Media Generation?

PS: Really bad of the film maker Tom Shadyac and co for not doing anything for Dr Patch’s work