Digital Marketing Trends in India : A Recap Of 2014 [Fear of Panda, Local And ASO]

A year is a long time in the parlance of online world. Another action packed year where the digital marketing efforts went all guns blazing across industries. Digital footprint expanded exponentially in India and the evidence is there for all of us to see. From the old time shop keepers coming up with a website to the street smart businessmen selling stuff on whatsapp, we saw the roots of digital marketing going deeper and stronger.
2014 was a year where we saw digital marketing take a coaster ride. It was a game changing year with facebook stamping its foot down as a major advertising player. Retargeting, Location Specific Ads, Real Time Bidding, Display, Video Ads – everything saw their share of changes compared to 2013 and triggered an ignition for changes expected in 2015.
Here is a quick recap for you of high impact changes in digital marketing for the year 2014 specific to India and its influence on businesses.

Offline still on the High

Offline marketing continued to rule the roost in the Indian Marketing scenario in spite of fast mobile and internet penetration. This is expected in a country where the internet penetration is still at only 19.19%  (source: Internetlivestats) and the majority of the audience are still offline. While the digital advertising spend was able to reach approx $1 billion, traditional advertising spend was still a humongous $5 billion industry. (Source: statistica)
It’s a proven channel from what we had seen from the major giants who had penetrated the market with TV like makemytrip, jabong, flipkart and in 2014 brands continued to invest a lot in offline branding. Hike, WeChat, Bluestone, Lenskart, Yepme, Pepperfry, Zivame, Freecharge etc and many more entered TV & publishing media.Digital Marketing

Think Global, Serve Local and Act Mobile

Mobile Advertising saw a rocket growth last year. With over 1 Billion in population and 65% of population under 35 years, India has unrivalled demography for Smartphone manufacturers. The stats from IDC suggests that the smartphone vs feature phone ratio grew at a rapid scale increasing the data accessibility on mobile. About 67% of the urban internet users had access to net on mobile while about 40% of the rural internet users had access to net on mobile. Focus on mobile stayed as a key marketing strategy to cover the width and depth of the market.

Content marketing – a shift in customer acquisition tactics

Content marketing was a buzzword for 2013. India still lags behind the adoption but in 2014 we saw the industry slowly embracing content marketing. Buying and research behavior of customers changed. It became very important to educate the customers about the value of what they purchase owing to the ever increasing smartness of online customer and the flexibility of the medium to allow thorough research before purchase.
For many brands content marketing was no longer an accessory but occupied their core of branding and customer acquisition efforts. Think of the election campaigns of 2014, Urbanladder, Thrillophillia, Google Search [Bet the video ad is still vivid in memory]. Most of the brands expanded their content marketing strategies through Social platforms, videos, pics, infographics and blogs.

Social for business is emerging

2014 was the year that proved the influence of Social Media in business. Many Indian brands employed in-house social media teams which manage branding, online reputation management, marketing campaigns and constant user engagement.
The constant reduction of organic reach on Facebook made their priorities very clear. One can easily see the shift of organic to advertisements on Facebook, social for business became very important for any business. Facebook’s announcement of “Facebook for work” launch and “product catalogue” advertisements had major influence in the online advertising industry.
Even though Facebook was still the most dominant Social Media channel, we saw increasing influence of Twitter, Quora, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn on business throughout the year.
Twitter adoption amongst users was under par in India, resulting in twitter advertisement itself not taking off, however brands continue to keep their handles active and are not ignoring it.
At the same time penetration of internet and smartphones  made the real time reviews about the brands and products possible. Reputation Management was high on the social channels  and had an impact on business both positively and negatively; case in point was Flipkart’s ‘Billion Day Sale’

Amplification of Paid Ads

Online spending increased; Facebook’s importance towards paid, Twitter’s move towards “buy from feed” (sponsored tweet) and growth of shopping ads compared to search ads, was all but an exercise in increasing customer acquisition.
It’s especially clear on Facebook where average organic reach for business page posts dropped to <6% from 12% in 2013. This made small business’s growth limited and forced them to increase paid activities. Of course, the quality of results were questionable.
fb ad revenue 1
Although Facebook became extremely critical for business, Google still had the upper hand by a huge margin.
Google’s focus on India increased. Even though ‘India Get Online’ campaign of 2012 was a little too early, businesses today are widely adopting search & display ads through Google Adwords and Google is right with them with free support and campaign management.

SEO – fear of Panda, Penguin, Pigeon and the shifted focus on Local & ASO

Indian users still don’t distinguish between paid ads and organic results as much. Ad blockers were a fad only with tech aware audience. However focus on SEO as a product hack took focus instead of age old methods of just content and links which used to be an outstanding trend in India years ago. Google continued to clean up link networks and for good, SEO got cleaner and better for user.
Local SEO focus which started towards end of 2013, impacted location specific businesses heavily in 2014. It was no longer important to rank up, but it was all the more important to rank up locally.
Mobile SEO was important albeit with little difference in rankings between Desktop and Mobile websites. Indian websites were primarily non mobile friendly. In addition to rankings on mobile browser, optimizing app store ranking was captivating marketers with its growing importance.

Ecommerce: Battle of Brands

Perhaps no other industry witnessed the drama and action that E Commerce in India did. Increased investments, changing regulations, widened customer base, increased customer spend, consolidations through mergers and acquisitions; E Commerce in India saw it all.
And for marketing it was a golden time as fund flow was humongous and scale was all that mattered! Marketing Spends on Digital  skyrocketed to upwards of 50 lakhs to 5 crores per month even in markets like local transportation , recharge, niche retail [vertical based] and education. Retail, Travel, Real Estate and Finance spent few crores to tens of crores monthly.  This shift resulted in heavy paid advertising, lesser attempts at creative guerilla marketing and even reduced focus on organic traffic for the major brands.
All the major brands did expand spend on Paid and Social platforms. One step ahead, amazon hinted starting its own ad network (yet again).

  • Programmatic buying did not see as high an adoption by marketers, though aggregators and tools are on the offer
  • Analytics for big players has moved away from Google Analytics to custom paid tools
  • Newer retargeting networks across display and social networks see a wide option – we have seen adroll, criteo, bizo being very active about East Asian Sales and there should be more.
  • Bing Ads did not see much growth as compared to adoption in US
  • Inventory on ad networks across mobile and desktop is still dispersed with many local ad networks but google continues to lead.

What to expect in 2015?

  • Mobile, Social and Content are going to be the focus points in digital marketing
  • Mobile App market will dominate the online shopping behavior of the customer
  • Local and Personalized advertising to take front seat both online and offline – we should see these through TV with highly targeted advertising through set up boxes.
  • Reputation building and real time reputation management will take higher importance
  • Brands investments on online advertising and Social going to be high
  • Multi-channel advertising and retargeting will see higher customizations

[About Hiveminds: Hiveminds brings you these insights with deep expertise of working and powering digital marketing strategies for many successful e-commerce giants in India like RedBus, BookMyShow, BigBasket, BabyOye, TaxiForSure among many others.
About the author:  Sajeesh Radhakrishnan is Digital Marketing Strategist working with Hiveminds with vast experience in digital marketing and closely watches upcoming trends.]

Reliance Ventures Into Grocery eCommerce. Can They Deliver?

Reliance Retail Ltd. has launched an online store for groceries – reliancefreshdirect.com. With this move reliance has ventured in to a space that is largely held by BigBasket, MyGrahak etc.

The website provides a host of products such as fresh fruits & vegetables, rice, dals, oil, packaged food, bakery & dairy item, frozen & pet food, household cleaning items, your specialized beauty & personal care products.

Users on the website need to register – this is done to check if the service is available in the provided area depending upon the pin code, select the products, choose a convenient delivery time & make payment through cash/credit card/net banking or food coupons. Shipping is free for purchases made above INR 750.

reliance fresh direct

 The service is currently available only in Mumbai at Navi Mumbai, South Mumbai and Thane areas. Reliance plans to increase the coverage to other geographies over a period of time. It’d be interesting to see if Reliance can deliver vs. heavily funded companies like BigBasket (raised $32mn).

Online grocery shopping in India is a fresh platform and sees a huge opportunity to grow in the current market. India is the sixth largest grocery market in the world. With eCommerce booming at a great pace and large number of people adopting the service, the number of players in this field will see a large increase. Online grocery also has the added advantage of gaining repeated customers once they are impressed with the service and products.

Currently the players in grocery market include Tradus (recently pivoted to grocery eCommerce), EkStop, GroceryAtClick, RationHut, MomGrocery, Zopnow, Punexpress, 30rupees, FamilyKart etc.
Recently, Future group too announced its partnership with Amazon India.

Will Digital Payments Solve India’s Black Money Woes?

In a cash transaction, there is no documented evidence of movement of money and thus enabling black money to thrive. Imagine a economy where all payments for purchases or P2P money transfers are done through digital payments(mobile/online), every paise will be accounted for. As fictitious it may sound today, it will be a reality in few years and would solve the black money problem to a large extent!

Black Money : Tap The Source?
Black Money : Tap The Source?
There are several examples where cash transactions are already being replaced by digital payments i.e, we are seeing a transition from ‘unaccounted money’ to ‘accounted money’!
Bus industry: A few years ago, almost everyone used to pay cash for bus travel, but now we use Redbus (or similar services).
From one of Redsbus ppt’s in 2013, the market size for bus ticketing industry is ~22 cr (220 mn) tickets/year and Rs 18,000 cr (US$3 bn) market growing at 25% per year. Redbus also recently declared sale of 3 cr (30 mn) tickets which at an average ticket price of Rs 600 amounts to Rs 1,800 cr (US$300 mn). If we assume, Redbus having a market share of 65%, then online bus ticketing is already ~Rs3,000 cr (US$500 mn).
This means online bus ticketing already has 16% market share and I strongly believe that in next 5 years, this number could be more than 50% which would mean online bus ticket bookings worth Rs 10,000 crs (US$1.7 bn)! (a big move from cash transactions to digital transactions!)
Cab industry: Cabs is a Rs 36,000 cr (US$6 bn) industry with 5.5 lac commercial cabs registered in the top 10 cities (source). Ola, Taxiforsure, Uber, Meru, Tabcabs etc are already organizing this space- all of them put together may have close to ~60,000 cabs which is ~ 10% of the total commercial cab market.
Uber already takes payments only through credit cards and eliminates the whole process of paying cash to the driver. Ola has also introduced Ola Wallet with a great 100% cashback offer till 31st October. Meru has also tied up with Citrus Pay to offer digital payment service.
Based on some of the numbers mentioned in this research presentation by Valoriser as of June 2014, close to ~1,25,000 rides/day happen every day which at an average of Rs 600/ride amounts to Rs 2,500 cr (US$400 mn) annually (accounted money). Of this already close to 10% ~ Rs200 crs is happening through credit cards/wallets.
With the way this industry is growing, we can easily expect organised cab market to grow to Rs 10,000–15,000 crs (US$1.6–2.5 bn) market in the next 5 years.
Groceries: We all buy groceries/veggies by paying cash to the neighborhood grocer/vegetable vendor. However, we already have Bigbasket, Ekstop, localbanya trying to change that. Bigbasket is already doing close to 5,000 deliveries a day with an average billing of Rs1,600 amounting to ~Rs300 crs (US$50 mn) annually. This market is also growing at a fast pace and in the next 5 years may touch ~Rs 5,000 crs+.
Restaurants: This segment has already started seeing traction with players like Tastykhana and Foodpanda. Tastykhana plans to do revenues of Rs100 crs by 2015. Very soon, Zomato plans to launch a payment solution through which restaurants can offer customers to either pay cash or through Zomato’s digital wallet. Zomato covers more than 50,000 restaurants in India and even a small market share of the transactions will mean a substantial movement from cash to digital.
Doctors: Generally when we visit doctors regarding any of our health problem’s they charge us fees from Rs 500 upto Rs 5,000 per visit depending upon the seriousness of problem & status of doctor- which is always paid in cash!
Practo, Lyberate, Justdial are already working to make doctor discovery easier along with appointment booking and will sooner or later start accepting payments on behalf of doctors leading to a shift from cash payments to digital payments.
E-commerce: In e-commerce marketplace model, companies like Snapdeal are aiming to get 100,000 sellers online in the next one year. Some of these sellers may have sales from physical stores as well where they may collect payments as cash (unaccounted), but when they sell on a e-commerce marketplace they receive money from the e-commerce company and hence is accounted for.
Example for some more clarity: Alfa in Mumbai only collects cash payment (unaccounted) and when they become an e-commerce player (directly or a seller on one of the marketplaces), their payments will be accounted for.
General: We will also see shifts towards digital payments accelerate in the next 5 years with companies like Justdial launching JD Cash, Facebook launching payments, Apple Pay launching in India.
I am expecting that above sectors will easily shift more than Rs 50,000 crs/year of payments from cash to digital payments in the next 5 years. As cash accumulation goes down, it would directly reduce the black money in the system leading to lower corruption and other systemic benefits.
Which other companies/sectors do you think will participate in this movement from cash transactions to digital money?
[About the author : Guest article by Sandeep Reddy (@hsrdce), with Research inputs: Sweta Parasavedi.] Image credit : shutterstock

Challenges for Justdial = Opportunities For Entrepreneurs!

[Editorial notes : If you are looking for an idea in consumer Internet business in India, read this analysis on Justdial’s popular category by Sandeep Reddy (@hsrdce).]

See how each of Justdial’s popular categories is a big big market and slowly being won by specialist players!

The biggest challenge I see for Justdial is how each one of its popular categories is getting disrupted by new tech startups- with their full stack approach. A few popular categories, however are still to be disrupted and are potentially big $ ideas (atleast 1,000 crs valuation startups like Ola, BookmyShow etc) yet to be executed- entrepreneurs?

A look at JD’s popular categories on its homepage below

Justdial-popular-categories

Now lets see how some of these categories are already moving away from JD to more specialized/vertical players who are enabling transactions with their full stack approach

Cabs: There was a time when every taxi/cab operator was listed on JD and users had to call JD and there would be multiple cab operators calling you for the ride. Now, we all know those same cab operators are a part of Ola, Taxiforsure or Uber who are completely disrupting this space and hurting JD.

Restaurants: Again Zomato, Tastykhana, Foodpanda, Burrp are hurting JD in this segment.

Doctors: Practo, Lybrate are helping in finding best doctors and booking appointments.

Movies: Bookmyshow helps in booking tickets online in more than 100 cities now.

Hotels: Apart from big players like makemytrip, yatra and cleartrip there are other players like Stayzilla who are bringing hotels online across 100’s of towns and cities.

Real estate: Lot of competition in this space with players like 99acres, magicbricks, commonfloor and housing.

Bus ticketing: Redbus, Abhibus, travelyaari

Events: Meraevents, explara

Travel: Do i need to mention the players in this segment ?

Automobiles: carwale, cardekho

Grocery: Bigbasket, ekstop, zopnow, localbanya are trying to disrupt this large market

Good news for entrepreneurs is that some of the popular categories on JD are still to be disrupted (let me know if I am wrong).

Repairs: highly fragmented, huge opportunity to standardize the experience for the end users- maybe like an Uber for Repairs! (please comment if you know someone is already doing this!)

Wedding– the whole set of activities around a marriage is a big market.

Chemists– do you think there is a market around home delivery of medicines or checking availability of medicines sitting at your home?

Partylot of things go into organizing a party– maybe there is a space for a vertical player to make a name!

Justdial will fight hard!

The one thing that is working for JD and shall work for a long time is that they are deep in even tier II and III cities which the vertical players will take time to reach.

JD is also trying to build a transaction platform (JD Search Plus), which enables users to do transactions- especially in segments like

Restaurants– ‘Book a table’ and ‘Order online

Doctors?—?Book Appointment

GroceryOrder Online

Travel segment– Bus, cab, flight, train and hotels. I am not sure how useful it will be since in most cases it will be tie-ups with other players like Makemytrip or Booking.com.

JD Search Plus is a great thing, but I just feel vertical specialists will do better.

——-

Also see: Does Search Fulfilment Work Better Than Best of Breed? Google, JustDial Vs Them All

BigBasket Secures $32mn Funding From Helion and Zodius

Online grocery shopping service BigBasket has secured $32mn funding from Helion venture partners and Zodius. BigBasket had earlier raised $10mn from Ascent Capital in 2012.bigbasket_van_thumb.jpg

Read : Of E-Commerce in the 90s to starting up BigBasket: Hari Menon [Video]

“BigBasket CEO Sudhakar said that the capital raised would be used to expand operations to top 10 cities by December 2015, even as Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd prepares for an e-commerce entry through online grocery sales. Existing investors Ascent Capital and LionRock capital, a Singapore based fund floated by former Goldman Sachs banker Hari Kumar, participated in the latest round of funding.”[source]

BigBasket currently clocks 5,000 orders per day and this funding comes at a time when Reliance has announced plans to enter online grocery space.

Data: What sells in online grocery category? Customers spend twice as much on cleaning toilet over teeth

ProductManagement : The One Feature Every Grocery Store Should Implement

E-Commerce Firm Tradus Launches Hyperlocal Grocery Service; What Works And What Doesn’t

Tradus has just added Grocery to their ecommerce offering. And with this, gone deeper into hyperlocal – a huge but underserved opportunity when it comes to ecommerce.

What are they announcing:

Tradus, has launched a new service that delivers groceries to consumers from local sellers.

SCREENSHOT1

The ibiboGroup owned Tradus’ mobile marketplace lets consumers place orders for groceries from local sellers via the Tradus mobile app. Upon ordering Tradus has them delivered to the buyer within one-day.

The service is only available for Delhi currently.

Mobile First. Really ?

We downloaded and tried the mobile app. First the good stuff – there’s a look and feel consistency across the web and mobile experience. Once the app is downloaded, it automatically detects location for delivery. It also gives a list of sellers around the area in which you reside.

SCREENSHOT1

While the look and feel is good, the UX is hardly anything to write home about – both across the web as well as mobile. Amongst other things, you don’t add things to the cart – you go straight to “Buy Now”. On the app it needs a workaround if you want to continue shopping – we leave it to you to discover the same. On the web there’s a “Continue Shopping” button, but it’s already one step too many if you have a list of 10 things to buy.

SCREENSHOT1

In fact, we wonder if “mobile first” is that great an idea for grocery at all! You typically have longer lists, with periodic, repeated purchases. The latter could be exploited, but shopping for the former on limited lists with multiple clicks and pages per item is rather tedious on a mobile device.

SCREENSHOT1

Finally, the app does have a lot of downloads, but the reviews – at least on the Android store – do not inspire confidence.

Not Grocery Friendly

The above buying experience might work for one off electronics purchases and the like but fails for groceries. The selection is also rather limited, and others like ZopNow and BigBasket do a much more focused job of delivery for groceries with 3 hour promises and the ability to pick time slots.

We understand that each grocer does their own delivery! That’s work great if the site essentially served as a storefront for grocery stores, and you picked one to start with. It, however, throws up nightmare delivery scenarios in my head as a consumer if multiple vendors will be fulfilling one grocery list!

Hyperlocal, or not?

Clearly, with the street food launch earlier, and now grocery fulfilled by vendors from the locality, Tradus seems thinking about the hyperlocal market in a big way. What we’re not sure about is that lumped with the generic e-commerce store – both web and app – the experience and indeed the entire set of expectations and user behaviour around hyperlocal will be very different from that for, say, an online apparel or electronics store. Beyond the UX, the backend for ensuring a wide enough selection, as well as quality of products and service, will be a challenge very different from what they might need to do for the branded goods, electronics and apparel markets.

At this point, we’ll reserve our judgment on where Tradus or their parent company – who have earlier fished elsewhere in the same space as Tradus simultaneously – is headed with this. All we can say right now is – this isn’t the best category or product launch that we’ve seen in the space.

Too Many Complaints About Your IVR Customer Support? Breeze App Might Have a Solution

BreezeA good customer support system is one of the most important assets of a company and if done wrong can also be a big downside. Bad customer support can even affect product sales. IVR is one of the most common point of interaction between a company and its customers and very rarely do we come across one which is easy to use.

Bangalore based techie Manju Hanasi’s washing machine,an IFB Senorita Plus that was working flawlessly for almost 6 years, broke down suddenly as if it had a major heart attack. After much fumbling through the IVR system, he got connected to the operator.

“I had to listen to the IVR for almost 5 minutes before I arrived at the right option. I was hating IVR interaction by that time,” says Manju Hanasi, Co-Founder of Breeze.

Many of us could very well relate to this feeling.

These frustrating experiences with IVR interaction gave him the idea to develop the Breeze IVR interaction app.

Breeze is a free Android App that will help users interact with IVR systems easily. The app will allow users to ‘browse’ IVR options instead of listening to them through the app, and only upon choosing to call an option, the app will dial all the intermediate IVR options for the user.

Breeze App menuBreeze, launched in January 2014, has a database of about 100 IVR services in about 20 categories. Upon first start, the app loads the IVR data from the cloud and works in offline mode thereafter. So the users don’t have to be connected to Internet to use Breeze. When the Internet connectivity is available, the app automatically updates any new services added.

The app also allows users to ‘bookmark’ their most frequently used IVR options for any service. It also remembers the most recently called IVR option (just like the way a mobile phone remembers phone calls) and this facility can be used to call the same IVR option in a single step.

Some of the IVR service available on the app include Carzonrent, TaxiForSure, Dominos, BigBasket, Samsung, HDFC Bank, State Bank of India, BSNL, TataSky etc.

Companies on the app can also benefit from options in the app which are not related directly to the IVR system. For example, the app can be used to show some information, FAQ and their answers etc. They can also bundle the service as their “customer care” module. With the app supporting white label branding, it can also be integrated with ease in the companies App.

Currently the app is free for the user and the services to be integrated but in the future the startup has a revenue model in mind – free for end users and charge for the companies.

For now the company has only released an Android version but the iOS version is being beta tested internally and will be released soon. The company is also partnering with IVR providers and companies in order to provide integration of the service with the app.

Integration with SMS and API are some of the features planned for the future.- with this planned feature, instead of initiating a call, the app can fetch the data and show it to the user. The app also plans to target services based in European and South Asian countries.

If you are a business looking to simplify your customer service experience, give Breeze a spin.

Electronic Payments 2.0: The Second Coming of Mobile Payments Startups

Mobile WalletUntil sometime ago, every trip on a cab run by Ola Cabs had to be paid in cash. If you don’t have cash in hand and an ATM isn’t close by, you are probably in for some trouble. A new partnership with mobile payment service Ezetap has solved this problem. One can simply use the Ezetap’s mobile POS device, that plugs into a mobile phone, and make the payment.

Ezetap is not the only startup trying to help an increasingly mobile Indian consumer make transactions on the fly. A new league startups are trying to make mobile payments easier in India, a country where there are more than 886 million mobile subscribers. Despite many failures in the past, this time around, things seem to be looking up as the country’s mobile infrastructure improves and investors pump in money.

Even though mobile payment systems were introduced to the Indian market since 2010, many of the companies had to shut shop due lower adoption and technology issues. mChek was one of them. Tamal Das, the former director of product management at mChek says

mChek was ahead of its time. The ecosystems was not ready for it at that point of time and that was one of the reasons for the service not picking up at that point of time.

Tamal now heads product management at Ezetap.

While India has over 800 million mobile subscriptions and a growing appetite for mobile Internet, only a small percentage of users make use of their mobile phone to make payments. But these numbers are rising in India’s cash based economy.

Besides Ezetap, Noida based Paytm, Mumbai based Mswipe and Citrus Pay are entering the market. Venture capitalists, who see opportunity in this changing ecosystem, have placed their bets in half a dozen such startups in the last 6 months. Since October 2013 mobile payments solutions companies including Livquik, emPay, Mswipe, iKaaz and Eashmart have raised funding.

As consumers slowly grow comfortable with electronic cash, mobile wallet providers are tripping over each other to acquire these potential customers.

Key Funding

The Past

In the past many companies have tried to break  into the Indian mobile payment and a lot of them had to shut shop. When mChek was introduced in the market, mobile payment services were heavily dependent on mobile networks and also had to deal with hardware limitations.

“Previously mobile transactions involved typing out complicated SMS based messages. Now with the access to data and better smartphone devices, the solutions have become easier to use and aren’t dependent on network operators anymore,” Pratyush Prasanna, Vice President of One97, which operates Paytm.

Another company Beam Money Private Limited, which had launched Beam Money prepaid wallet, wound up their wallet service in June 2013 citing customer usability issues.

The Present

One97’s PayTm is one of the fastest growing payment solutions in the country. The company recently launched a semi-closed wallet service called PayTm Cash Wallet, using which users can pay for a different services and not just subscription recharges from their mobile device. “Nearly 80% of the transactions on our service happen from mobile device, and only 20% are done on the web,” says Pratyush.

ezetapBetter devices and operating systems that allow payment companies to develop intuitive and user friendly applications have also changed the game. Unlike before the service offered is not the only criteria, the way it is presented matters to a lot of people.

Many of the new solutions in India are inspired by Square, the company founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey to simplify payments in the United States.

Ezetap and Mswipe have developed their own services around devices that convert mobile devices into a card swipe machines. Online merchants like Bigbasket and cab services like Ola use Ezetap. Mswipe has clients like Carzonrent and Eureka forbes.

Recently, mobile operator Vodafone partnered with ICICI bank to launch M-Pesa (December 2013). It has also launched a platform for service providers and application developers to integrate with Vodafone’s payment mechanism, by giving access to its billing API.

The Future

“Nearly 7 million transactions are completed through mobile wallets across India each month. But most payments are minuscule, averaging at Rs 260 per transaction.” according to investment banking & asset management firm Avendus’ report in 2013.

In 2013 IMPS transactions in India saw a jump of nearly 22X growth over the previous year, signaling a sharp rise in mobile payment transactions in the country.

Raghuram Rajan, RBI Governor  Image: Wikipedia
Raghuram Rajan, RBI Governor
Image: Wikipedia

On September 2013, during his inaugural speech, the new RBI Governor, Raghuram Rajan, paid considerable attention to mobile transaction. He announced plans for a pilot project to allow cash withdrawals from prepaid wallets, as well as the potential for the transfer of funds to any handset. Rajan said

Mobile payments can be a game changer both in the financial sector as well as to mobile companies.

As of January, there are 26 companies authorized by the central bank to provide mobile payment services. All this point to bigger opportunities in the offing.

But recently, MasterCard in its global report on mobile payments, ranked India near the bottom of the list on the basis of knowledge of mobile options.

On the hardware side, Near Field Communication (NFC) technology seems to be picking up in India. It  holds great importance for the future of mobile payments.

Globally, technology giants like Google and Apple are showing great interest in this space.

One of the major hurdles most payment gateways will have to tackle is failed transactions support. “There isn’t much clarity or support regarding the causes of these failed transactions,” says Tamal.

Even payment gateways are taking note of the growth in mobile payments. Payment gateway provider Citrus, which recently raised $5.5 million from Econtext Asia and Beenos Asia, plans to use the newly raised funds to expand in the mobile payment space.

“Our big focus right now is on mobile. We are seeing a 30% month-on-month growth on mobile payments through our gateway,” says Satyen V. Kothari, Chairman and Founder of Citrus Payment Solutions.

With changing customer habits and the rise of online shopping in the country, the future of mobile payments looks bright in the country.

Recommended Read:  Compared: Payment Gateways in India [2014 Edition]

The Best of SMEthing, Where Startups & SMEs Meet Great Service Providers

A few months ago, we launched SMEthing, an online marketplace for buyers & service providers. The idea was to create a platform where startups & SMEs can find good service providers who understand their needs and constraints.

Over the months, SMEthing has grown. We’ve got some great listings on the site and some decent traction. If you are a startup looking for a service, check out the site. Here are a few useful service providers that have listed on the platform recently.

Zepo.in

yourbrandZepo is an ecommerce platform which helps small businesses and entrepreneurs open their online store in 5 minutes and start selling online easily. Apart from providing the platform, we also pride ourselves on being more than just an ecommerce platform. We help our store owners with everything from logistics support to payment gateways. So that retailers, small manufacturers and brands can use e-commerce like any other medium of taking orders; LIKE A TELEPHONE!

Visit Zepo here.


Ozonetel Systems

Ozonetel Systems provides business communications on the cloud. The company has created India’s first and most popular cloud telephony platform KooKoo, which has handled more than 650 million calls.Ozonetellogo1-90

KooKoo also powers BizPhone, the cloud PBX product for your business. Sign up for a BizPhone account and setup your virtual office extensions and welcome message. BizPhone is powering the office PBX for more than 200 businesses in India.

The company has also developed a complete contact/call center on the cloud called as Cloudagent, which has replaced traditional call centers in a lot of businesses including enterprises like Agarwal Packers, Wipro, Intuit and companies like Zovi, Taxiforsure, Bigbasket etc.

Visit Ozonetel here.


Vakilsearch

Vakilsearch is a leading provider of professional services online. Starting a business? Worry not – just leave the process to us and focus on your business.

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How can we help? We setup your business, protect your logo and brand-name, prepare crucial legal documents and agreements and also apply for your tax registrations. If things don’t work out as planned, we also assist you in shutting down the business and starting something new.

Visit Vakilsearch here.


Yavvy

Yavvy helps you get new customers and grow existing ones! It’s one single application to manage your customer relationships.

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Yavvy helps you Sales Lead Tracking, Order Management, Billing & Invoicing, Inventory & Payment.

Visit Yavvy here.


WhatFix

WhatFix is an easy to use application for creating interactive guides. Interactive guides makes user complete task along with learning, which dramatically reduces customer support queries and encourages self service.

WhatFix interactive guides provides step by step instructions directly inside applications (like a live tour), it can be created with just few clicks (< 5 mins) & can be embedded in any website.

Visit WhatFix here.


Magic Bites

A stickler for hygiene & health when it comes to food for your loved ones? Wanna go that extra mile when it comes to packing yummy snacks for your lil one’s tiffin? You have reached the right spot – The one stop for absolutely yummy baked goodies. We offer cakes, 3D themed cakes, chocolates, pastries, cupcakes, cookies, breads, gift hampers et al.

Visit Magic Bites here.


eLagaan

eLagaan offers end to end CA, CS, Business Legal & Payroll services for businesses. It specializes in formulating investor friendly structures & terms, staying compliant, setting up best practices desired by founders, investors & employees.

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This facilitates businesses to grow & scale with ease and stay fundable, saleable and compliant.

Visit eLagaan here.


Web Bazaar

Small Businesses have a common perception that getting online can be tedious, time-consuming and costly. It is this very perception that prevents them from taking the first step in building an online presence. A website for business has become an important factor in determining your business growth. But out of 23 million micro and small businesses in India only 10 % of them are online.

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The company aims at enabling its customers to use their web presence as a second shop. Company offers web designing services in Bangalore at highly affordable prices.

Visit Webbazaar here.


JobJoos

JobJoos offers a SaaS platform specially built for SMEs, to increase productivity and reduce costs by factors, in one of the most important functions in any business i.e. hiring/recruiting.

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A powerful ATS increases productivity by factors (with seamless integration with email). Video interviews platform reduces short listing time by factors. Social Referral Recruitment platform automates the very effective “referral hiring” methods. Assessments help you pre-screening candidates and save tones of time.

Visit JobJoos here.


Develoopers

Devloopers was started  with an aim to bring creative, effective and affordable Web, App Design and  Development and Other Marketing and IT services to clients. developed a technology called Cluster which divides and distributes the project across nodes.smething1 Each node is handled by one of our 136 dedicated team and further gets divided into sub nodes. Sub nodes are skilled professionals who get the distributed work and as they are master in it it gets done fast and in about one third of cost.

Web Development services like App Development and Design Services.

Visit Develoopers here.


THEMISThemis2

Themis2Themis2THEMIS provides and manages your team of experts to handle your Accounting, HR and Company Secretarial functions. Company conceptualizes, design and structure the framework for the necessary functions. We will embed ourselves in your organization to implement, manage and monitor the necessary functions.

Visit Themis here.


LinksAlpha.com

     LinksAlpha is provider of Social Media Marketing Software.

  • Ability to Track Multiple Social Profiles.linksalpha

  • Powerful Social Media Publishing solution.

  • Insightful Analytics for Social, Email, and Ad campaigns.

  • Social Integration for websites using Social Sharing Buttons

Visit LinksAlpha here.


Hinote Systems Private Limited

Hinote offers payroll services and software to organizations in India. We currently manage payroll for thousands of employees across customer organizations all over India.hinote-logo2

Our customer organizations are from sectors such as manufacturing and services including Information Technology, Business Process Outsourcing and the social sector. We have significant expertise in payroll and information technology.

Visit Hinote here.

Online Supermarket LocalBanya Raises Series A Funding

Mumbai based online supermarket LocalBanya  has raised Series A funding from Mumbai based realty development group Karmvir Avant Group. The amount of investment made was not disclosed.localbanya

LocalBanya was started in 2012 and processes over 400 deliveries daily with the help of a team of 100 employees. The company which had recently expanded services into Thane and Navi Mumbai had previously raised funding from Brand Capital Springboard in July 2013.

LocalBanya plans to expand to 2 more cities by mid-2014. The online grocery store has competition from the likes of peers ZopNow and BigBasket. BigBasket had raised $10 million funding from Ascent Capital in 2012, while ZopNow raised funding from Accel Partners, Times Group and Qualcomm.

Big Bazaar Direct is Here: 1 Lakh E-commerce Powered Franchises Backed by Future Group

Retail giant Future group is launching Big Bazaar Direct, a direct selling platform for which it will use a tablet based e-commerce backend.

According to Big Bazaar’s newly launched site for Direct, the retailer will offer nearly 1000 deals on a tablet interface to the franchises from which customers can choose items. An order confirmation is sent on SMS to the buyers mobile after which the buyer makes a payment to the franchise. The company is promising 3-7 days delivery.

Big Bazaar will fulfill the orders while franchisees will earn a cut from each order. The franchisees will have to make a Rs 3 lakh investment to get the shop running.

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Big Bazaar Direct is already live and is signing up franchises from around the country.

The company will set up nearly 100,000 franchises in the next 2 years. (source)

The group, struggling to bring nearly Rs 8,000 cr of debt under control has not been very successful with its pure play e-commerce venture Futurebazaar.

With this, it appears that the company wants to target people who are not buying online.

The company, which has been selling off assets in the last year or so, will raise a lot of money from franchises if people buy into the idea. Future group will take a Rs 1 lakh non interest bearing refundable security deposit, Rs 1 lakh to setup the infrastructure and Rs 1 lakh as advance for the orders to be placed.

In the groceries and perishables segment, there are e-commerce players such as BigBasket and Zopnow. These companies promise delivery within a few hours and the Future group will have to compete with them if they are targeting the online buyers. However, with 1 lakh franchise stores, Biyani is more likely to be competing with the Kirana shop next door for a share of business from people who aren’t buying online. Now that, will be a tougher challenge.

What are your thoughts?

Hat tip: Naman

News Roundup: Incubator 91springboard partners with US Incubator netGSV; GoZoop Buys Red Digital & More

91 SpringboardDelhi based incubator 91springsboard has joined hands with netGSV, a US based incubator. The partnership will help portfolio companies of Indian incubator to gain exposure of Silicon Valley’s technology and startup ecosystem along with access to global investors and entrepreneurs.

Similarly, netGSV’s portfolio startups will have a chance to explore Indian market and use 91springsboard facilities. The US based incubator cum co-working space provider will also co-invest in Indian startups along with the Indian incubator.

Rick Rasmussen head of International Business Development at netGSV will serve on the advisory board of 91springbopard.91springsboard, which also provides co-working space to portfolio companies, has 41 startups working out of their space with over 90 members.

Gozoop acquires Social Media firm Red Digital

GozoopMumbai headquartered cross digital agency, Gozoop, has acquired Red Digital, a social media agency. Post acquisition, employees and clients of Red Digital will become the part of Gozoop brand. Red Digital has a clientele which includes Mumbai Indians, Dell, PepsiCo, BMW, Parker Pens, Adidas and PVR.

Though  the deal size was un-disclosed, the transaction was reportedly valued at Rs 7 cr.

Rohan Bhansali, CEO and Co-Founder, Gozoop declined to comment on the deal size.

Currently, Gozoop has operations in Dubai and Singapore along with India and generates 65% of the revenue from the international operations. Established in 2010, Gozoop provides social media marketing, SEO, media buying and other services.

BigBasket introduces Pay on Delivery Feature With Ezetap’s Mobile POS

EzetapBigBasket.com, a Bangalore based online grocery portal, has introduced Mobile POS based payment feature for its users across Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

Using Ezetap’s, low cost mobile payment solution, users can pay their payments through credit and debit cards.

Delivery agents of the grocery portal will use their mobile phones as a secured terminal for credit card payments. A pocket size card reader and an Android phone of version 2.2 or higher is required for enabling the application.

Consumers can order online like before, just instead of cash payments, electronic payment will be processed at the time of delivery using Ezetap “Card on Delivery” service. This will ensure secure transactions and will eliminate the hassles of cash payments.

Looking for Rare Ingredients for Your Master Kitchen? Try GlobalGraynz

GlobalgraynzImagine yourselves in Bangalore, inspired by Masterchef Australia, looking for some green pesto sauce for pasta, or some Kalamata olives. If you don’t find it in one of the very few gourmet outlets or maybe Russel Market, chances are, you won’t find them in town. There ends your fancy cooking.

Finding rare food ingredients can be nightmarish. Online portal GlobalGraynz wants to turn this into a breeze. The Chennai based startup is trying to carve a space in Indian online grocery market, with a different set of offerings tailored for niche set of users

There are many recipes and cuisines which have international ingredients that are hard to find in the local grocery markets. GlobalGraynz offers multi cuisine ingredients of foreign recipes to Indian consumers.

The portal has introduced an interesting feature called Chef’s Boxes. It is basically a package of ingredients for a particular recipe. For instance a pack of recipe “Tofu Walnut Dumplings (Vegan)” will contain items required to prepare it. Instead of buying individual products for a specific dish users can just buy the box, saving both time and effort. Also the price of a packaged box is less in comparison to the sum of the price of individual products.

Three variants are available in Chef’s Box; “Everything”, “Everything and More” and “Rare”, all contains different offerings. Users can select the type of Chef’s Box as per their requirement.

The website aggregates global recipes and cuisines from across the food blogs. The startup acknowledges the sender of the recipe and his/her personal blog on the site. It also shows the history, nutrition and ingredients for the listed recipe along with price and buying option, which we think is pretty cool from a user’s point of view.

Besides exploring recipes and buying pre-packaged boxes, foodies can also shop for individual products which are required in international cuisines. The site lists close to 150 items.

The startup does not maintain inventory as of now and relies on suppliers to fetch products. It takes 3- 6 days to deliver. Shipping is free in Bangalore & Chennai and costs Rs 100 in other cities.

There are number of ecommerce players in Indian online grocery market. Portals like BigBasket, O! martSalt n Soap, MyGrahak and many more are providing localised shopping for consumers for their food and grocery needs. Recently, Mumbai based online grocery store LocalBanya raised undisclosed funding

Of E-Commerce in the 90s to starting up BigBasket: Hari Menon [Video]

Hari Menon, the CEO & Co-Founder of BigBasket.com, is not new to entrepreneurship. Back in 1998, he was part of the team which started India’s first e-commerce venture called Fabmall. From then to now, e-commerce has changed a lot.

By 2007, the team had ventured into offline retail as well. After selling the  chain of over 200 stores to Aditya Birla Group in 2006, he took a break from entrepreneurship to join the Manipal Group. Now he is back in the game with BigBasket.com, a fast growing online grocery store. The e-commerce portal opened its first warehouse in Bangalore earlier this year and plans to do the same in other cities soon. A plan to expand to other cities is on the cards.

In this conversation he talks about his journey through the dot com bubble and the early startup rat race to how BigBasket.com has scaled over the years.

 

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Consumer Goods Giant Hindustan Unilever Looking to Build E-commerce Capability

With e-commerce picking up in the country, India’s largest consumer goods company Hindustan Uniliver is looking to build hul logoe-commerce capabilities.

In an interview, Nitin Paranjpe, the Chief Executive Officer of HUL said

Almost 10 years ago, we called out modern trade as one of our categories of the future even before anyone could predict that it will become so large. We trained our people, sent them overseas to work with Walmart and Tesco, and we built the depth and understanding of the channel to make it as strong as our traditional channel. Modern trade now contributes close to 15% of our overall revenue. We have now called out e-commerce and feel it will become large in the future. We are building capabilities and benefiting from Unilever’s experience in developed markets. (Mint)

That large players like HUL are coming into the e-commerce business is an affirmation that the $10 bn e-commerce market is slowly becoming mainstream and is ready to accommodate more players. However, it needs to be seen how quickly it expands, for many cash starved e-commerce companies are running out of time quickly.

The good news is that buyers are slowly beginning to shop online for convenience and greater options and not just discounts. Take for instance the case of Domino’s Pizza in India. The company, which recently started taking orders online as well as on the mobile, sold Pizza worth Rs 28 crore during the third quarter of FY2013.

The bad news is that the industry stands a chance of losing consumer trust as cash strapped e-commerce companies such as Timtara shut down without delivering on orders. In this case, consumers have gone to court accusing the promoters of fraud.

There is a large overlap between the goods retailed by new e-commerce players like venture backed BigBasket and what HUL sells. Will this affect their sales? Perhaps. But then, customers might chose to buy everything from under one roof instead of buying HUL products from their site.

Big retailers such as Walmart and Tesco have been playing catchup with Amazon in the e-commerce department.