Amazon took a totally orthogonal path with it’s entry into e-commerce in India. It has been speculated that they tried to buy Flipkart, been busy building a warehouse, instead launched as a gatekeeper to products with discovery and comparison site Junglee.

With the amount of money Flipkart, Makemytrip, Snapdeal, etc have been throwing in advertising it became a calling that the online commerce winner would be the one who brands it most and goes out and pops out it’s head on TV, print and other traditional media.

For an uninformed Indian, getting onto the Internet for the first time and not knowing where to go and who to trust brings the gatekeeper’s role in the front. As Alok pointed out in his blog post, Google does a crappy job of product discovery. In the west, very few people buy via a search engine, instead they have their favorite e-commerce sites to go to. The Indian online audience is just getting onto the Internet with close to 100 million actives. For them the celebrated bookmarks of the west like Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc. don’t exist. How does Junglee help where an average netizen going onto the Internet for the first time and traditional retailers who haven’t gone online with their inventory? Here’s what I think.

Curated sellers in a country where there are few laws protecting the buyers: The Indian internet audience buying from over SEO-ed, fly by night operators is fraught with hole-in-the-pocket scenarios as the laws around protecting the customer’s interests are very weak. Try arguing for a bad charge on your credit card, or try following up with a merchant who shipped a bad product without return guarantees. Junglee’s opted-in curated sellers may provide at least some validation before making a buying decision.

Breathing room for small ‘I-have-not-raised-$100m-for-my-e-commerce-site’ retailers: Not many Indian e-commerce players shall raise enough money beyond the top 5 who will have all the cash in the world to build a brand. With Junglee potentially building a brand, it becomes a front-gate to your online buying needs. Niche sites selling to the hobbyists have a shot in the arm. They don’t have to get lost into eBay’s marketplace where the product display looks like a badly done Web 1.0 page.

Opportunity for large offline businesses to go online with their inventory Every city has retailers with established supply-chain and delivery network, where they have been successfully delivering locally. With someone else taking care of the online presence, it becomes easier to increase the reach within the city by connecting to the local audience. These retailers who are not as big as the cross-country chains like Croma, Reliance Digital, etc. get to play together. The neighbourhood photography equipment-walla who has been successfully importing optics from Germany now stand next online with other giants. This is a huge gap–I’m sure Junglee is busy building tools for the same.

Finding a product on a shopping site and not a search engine: Search engines fail at product discovery with peddling content around keyword arbitrage, affiliate marketing and SEO-ed to death sites pulling into the first few pages. A site focused exclusively on product discovery with pricing, recommendations has a better chance of giving what you want instead of a search result page infested with links, content and arbitrage.

Plotting the timeline, India’s B2C e-commerce is in 1997 whereas customers in the United States bought $142.5 billion worth of goods in 2011.

[Guest article contributed by Indus Khaitan. Reproduced from his blog]
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