eCommerce Blog

eCommerce Blog – Opportunities in US and India (by Darpan Munjal)

Archive for the ‘New Trends’ Category

15 reasons why I wouldn’t buy from your online store

Posted by Darpan Munjal On November - 1 - 2009
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Dear Online Retailer,

You can make a safe assumption that the reason I am visiting your online store is because I have an intention to buy something from you. All I need from you is to help me find what I am looking for and then take me from point A (Product Page) to point B (checkout). I am ready to fork over my money if you show me a clear path! So it is up to you to decide how easy or difficult you want my journey to be. Need a few tips? Here are few ideas to consider:

  1. Do not force me to register during the checkout process. If I click on checkout, that is usually a safe assumption that I have made a decision to purchase. Please get out of my way so you can take my money as quickly as possible before I change my mind. Don’t present me with unnecessary registration steps or other information that would slow me down. If you want to give me an option to register after the checkout is complete, sure I will consider it.
  2. Remember that Google is not your target customer – I am. Don’t write your product descriptions or other content containing tons of SEO keywords with a sole purpose to please Google. Read the rest of this entry »

Future of Social Shopping – Key Opportunities

Posted by Darpan Munjal On October - 15 - 2009
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Chicago, 2010: Dan is looking to buy a decent home theater system to complement the new LED TV he purchased. Dan doesn’t know much about home theater systems so he logs on to where he has setup his online “Media Closet” which tracks all the gadgets and electronic devices he currently owns. Dan is able to find 18 “Audio Gurus” who also have an expertise on the products that are currently in his media closet. These gurus have been voted as the experts by the online community so Dan thinks that he can trust their recommendations. Dan invites one of the experts to view his “Online Media Closet” – which shows the information about the Blu Ray player, LED TV, a Netflix streaming device and a WII console that he would like to connect to the home theater system. The expert makes recommendation for two high end home theater systems that are currently on sale. Dan purchases one of the home theater systems and the Audio Guru receives affiliate points from Bestbuy for his help in the consultative selling.

New York, 2010: It is 11:30pm and Sally is looking to buy a new dress for the upcoming Christmas party. She logs on to, picks up a dress and matching shoes and saves the new look in her profile. She gets prompted by Looklet if she would like to get an opinion from her friends. Looklet displays all her online Facebook friends via Facebook connect . Sally sees that her best friends Nancy and Tina are still online and invites them to give an opinion on the new look. They are able to chat and view the products in real time. Both Nancy and Tina love the new dress but aren’t too crazy about the new shoes. Sally is able to find other “Fashion Experts” on Looklet who have favorited the same dress – and she is able to find better shoes based upon recommendations from those experts.

Welcome to a new phenomenon in online retailing – “Social Shopping”. Read the rest of this entry »

Sears – Winning the crowd by crowdsourcing?

Posted by Darpan Munjal On August - 16 - 2009
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It was about 5 years ago but I still remember when my refrigerator stopped working two days after I ordered it from Sears. It took me more than 8 phone calls to get the situation addressed. I remember calling different customer service hotlines and finally getting a resolution after contacting some internal departments. All this happened when I was working at Sears!! I shared my experience with the appropriate groups in the hopes that others wouldn’t have to go through similar frustration. However, at that moment, I couldn’t help but empathize with the situation of other customers who had no good means to “escalate” the issue within the appropriate internal departments. .

Fast forward 5 years – enter the connected world! I recently visited and was amazed at the community involvement! Even though you see customers occasionally venting about product issues and their experiences, what is really impressive is that Sears has taken a bold step to let it all out in the open. They have provided an online platform where Customers are free to post their experiences. This is bold because it demonstrates leadership as well as compassion that Sears not only cares about listening to their customers, they are also not afraid of letting customers openly talk about their experiences online, however negative they might be. Interestingly, Read the rest of this entry »

Next Generation eCommerce

Posted by Darpan Munjal On August - 11 - 2009
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Wow! What an interesting year! This economy has had a sobering effect across all industries, especially the online industry! Several businesses that appeared to be immune to any down-turn are now thinking hard about survival. However, there are signs that the worst may be behind us. Little rays of sunshine are visible in the form of new ventures and start-ups that have done extremely well despite of the recession. I think the last 12-15 months have forced everyone to think hard about no-frills business models and getting back to basics. More than ever, these are the times that require a strong commitment, passion and a strong focus to get across the other side of this storm. I strongly believe that in the next 3-4 years, when we look back, this would definitely be a pivotal year for the online industry with highly sustainable and healthy online business models emerging from it.

I’ve been following the US and India eCommerce industry very closely during the last several years.  I have met quite a few talented individuals who are either in the process of or have already built a good online offering. However, I feel there is still a huge opportunity to take the online shopping to the next level and this may be just the right timing to go after that opportunity.

I have now decided to focus on building a next generation shopping portal for US and India market that combines the power of communities, user content as well as product customization in a game-changing way. Read the rest of this entry »

Competitive advantage in the digital world

Posted by Darpan Munjal On March - 14 - 2008
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Recently I got an invitation from an old colleague to join Plaxo. I thought to myself – I don’t need another social network to maintain professional contacts, I already have LinkedIn! Within the next 3 days, I suddenly started receiving Plaxo invitations from my other LinkedIn contacts – it almost felt like some sort of evil spam! As much as I hate to sign up for a new site I don’t intend to use, my curiousity got the best of me, and I indulged in accepting the invitation to see what all the hype was about. Moments after clicking through the registration process, I realized how easy Plaxo made to import contacts from my other sources – Gmail, Outlook and most surprisingly from LinkedIn!!

These are the initial signs of what is changing in the digital world. Information created by users is following them from one site to another. This is particularly timely now that the users have started feeling the “network fatigue” that comes from maintaining multiple social-networking profiles, e-mail accounts, blogs, address book applications and the like. Things are changing, really changing in the social web. Initiatives such as Dataportability group are all about making the web more free flowing in terms of user data – most of the key players such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo have already signed up. If things pan out the way they are Read the rest of this entry »

The Perfect Storm

Posted by Darpan Munjal On August - 20 - 2007
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The online retail environment in India is eerily quiet. The overall online pie is still very small. Broadly speaking, Indian consumers aren’t shopping online. The distributors or local vendors still look at the online channel as a drop in the bucket. New online retailers are slowly emerging – however Indian ecommerce just can’t seem to hit its stride. What does this all mean? Is online retailing not for the Indian market? Are the cultural preferences of Indian customers so unique that ecommerce will never achieve a mainstream status? Although the current state paints a very somber image for eCommerce in India, it reminds me of the time when we went on a vacation to Florida, only to find out that the area was about to be hit by a category 3 hurricane. Standing in balcony of the hotel room, I could feel an uneasy quiet. Wind was calm however I could feel something big was about to happen. Two years later, I find myself standing on the verge of another perfect storm – a storm that will change the face of online shopping in India.

It is not a mystery anymore that the retail industry is going through a significant organization in India. Some would argue that this opens up more exciting options for consumers to shop in a physical store, which would further impact the adoption of online shopping in a negative way. Fair argument, however, I would like to share some specific reasons why I strongly believe that a reverse phenomenon is inevitable – organization in physical retail will fuel an explosive growth of online ecommerce in India.


Why has eCommerce adoption been slow in India?
Before we look at the factors that will drive an explosive growth in eCommerce, it is important to look at why eCommerce hasn’t taken off so far in India. Read the rest of this entry »

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