Commerce via mobile is a big hit in our neighboring country China but the same is yet to happen in our country. While Indian eCommerce giants are enabling shopping via mobile, the experience offered is questionable. Poor user experience adds to the existing concern over mobile payments. Seeing this as an opportunity, One97 Communications, the mobile internet firm known for its online recharge services announced at the beginning of the year that it is venturing into online retailing, betting on the fast-growing smartphone usage in India.
The development has been confirmed; Paytm (One97 is its parent company) recently revealed its mobile-only shopping marketplace – Paytm Shopping app where the mobile app comes integrated with a digital wallet for payments. The firm states that the app features more than 100,000 items from 250 merchants across men, women, kids fashion and home furnishing categories, along with mobile & DTH recharge options which are already available on the app.
While the 6 million Paytm users will be able to access the mobile-only marketplace by the end of February, the latest version of the app has tried to emulate over-the-counter human shopping experience using the Plustxt messenger, which the company had acquired last year under $2 million in a cash-and-equity deal.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Co-Founder & CEO, One97 Communications shared that the new innovation from their end would allow consumers to bargain with the vendor selling products through the platform. Bargaining is engrained in the Indian consumer and by including the common shopping feature, One97 is trying to reach out to every Indian user.
With plans of offering apparel for men, women and kids, home decor deals and accessories on its Paytm mobile app, the company has integrated the Paytm Cash Wallet, a mobile prepaid payment option with the app. With a feature like Paytm Cash Wallet, a user can add cash from his/her bank/credit card. Users can also wish to get cash back or refund from a merchant in the wallet and use it across every item sold in the marketplace. However, this would depend on merchant to merchant.
Forward move: mobile-first and mobile-only approach
Paytm’s mobile-only shopping marketplace – Paytm Shopping app is forward thinking from a company that is mainly used by mobile phone users to recharge their pre-paid connections. The company that is trying to look at mobile shopping from bottom up isn’t trying any path breaking idea but is betting on its strategy of offering services on mobile devices.
Vijay shared with ET that, “Our mobile-first and mobile-only approach will make a difference in the market.” When most of the bigger players are betting on the web based experience, Vijay is of the opinion that mobile is where most of the buying will happen in the future.
In fact the company’s foray into online retailing stems from the 3 lakh orders (recharges, deals and tickets) on New Year’s Eve from the mobile app. Besides the Paytm app processes around 4 million orders every month. Vijay thinks this is a clear indication that there is a market ready to take the leap into mobile shopping.
Mobile is proliferating in the country and so is the internet usage with mobile witnessing a massive growth. According to a recent report released by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB, the number of mobile internet users in India will be 155 million by the end of March 2014 and 185 million by June 2014.
But online shopping is already a crowded space with major players like Amazon, Flipkart, eBay, etc trying to grab a bigger pie, that might eat into Paytm’s share.
However with the mobile first approach, One97 is trying to fill the loopholes of mobile shopping. While product discovery needs to be simplified, purchasing needs to be smooth too. Traditional systems haven’t been successful in providing a smooth experience to consumers and Vijay’s experience says it very well.
“We need a very reliable and easy to use payment system for mobile. None of the traditional systems were built for mobile, so we made Paytm Cash. It is a game-changing product made for mobile payments,” he said. “All your saved cards – credit cards, debit cards and net banking work seamlessly with Paytm Cash Wallet right from your phone. Paytm has more than 1 million saved cards and it will be a breeze to shop using these,” he added.
According to Vijay the sales of smartphones in the country with large screens are strengthening his belief; consumers could use these devices with ease to transact online. The smartphone shipments in the country has grown by 229% year over year (YoY) to 12.8 million smartphones for the third quarter of 2013, subsequently has the online retail business. According to a survey by industry body, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), India’s e-commerce market grew at a staggering 88 percent in 2013 to $16 billion. The survey further estimates the country’s e-commerce market to reach $56 billion by 2023.
The trends strengthen Vijay’s belief and his company One97’s mobile-first and mobile-only approach with the latest Paytm shopping app. But, the coming days will decide if and when One97 shares the revenues made from the shopping app.