eCommerce Blog

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

Archive for the ‘eCommerce in India’ Category

35 great eCommerce User Interface Designs

Posted by Darpan Munjal On November - 16 - 2009
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I think most of us would agree that a clean and intuitive user experience goes a long way in maintaining healthy conversion rates for an eCommerce business. Although most online retailers want to build a clean user experience – a lot of times they get influenced by the “complexities” of their business and begin designing the experience for exceptions that only apply to 5-10% of visitors. I think it is extremely important to continue to invest some dollars in the usability testing of the site and keep the experience as simple as possible.

I recently came across a great post that showcases 35 online retailers who have done an outstanding job of keeping the user experience simple and fresh. In the past, I have seen a lot of retailers focusing on adding more and more content to the pages so that they can make use of the very last pixel of white space on their page. Looking at these designs, perhaps the focus should be quite opposite – how to remove all the unnecessary content out of a page and increase the amount of that white space so that the users are presented with crisp and quality content that truly matters.

Here’s the list for your design inspiration:

Increasing Online Conversion Rates on A Budget

Posted by Michelle On November - 7 - 2009
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Editor’s Note: We welcome this guest post from Michelle Strassburg who is head of Sales and Marketing at UK based online seller Wood and Beyond.

Having been an e-commerce manager for a while, it didn’t take me long to understand the name of the game. When it comes to running a successful e-commerce business, the name of the game isn’t so much about generating traffic, as getting whatever levels of traffic you have to convert. Online conversion can come in many forms. If you’re selling a product online conversion happens when a visitor makes a purchase and becomes an active customer, and if you’re offering a service your conversion might be getting visitors to phone-in. In order to increase your online conversion rates on a budget try my tips below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Enabling your ecommerce site for secure payments

Posted by Manju Murthy On October - 21 - 2009
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All online retailers are concerned about minimizing charge-backs and payment fraud. This is one of those costs that can be minimized if appropriate and proactive steps are taken.  Manju Murthy has done a good job of providing a background on online payment fraud and some of the new initiatives such as two factor authentication. Thanks Manju!

Malware on the PC (and elsewhere) can harvest credit card numbers when entered during ecommerce payments.  Such harvested numbers can be used by fraudsters to purchase goods with purchase showing up on the users credit card bill.  This results in chargebacks, penalties and increase in interchange rate.  In India, online merchants see chargebacks of around 3% (some verticals have over 20% fraud).  In a market that is at $5B and growing at a CAGR of about 30%, you can quickly compute the impact of online payments fraud in India.

Read the rest of this entry »

Announcing – eCommerce Showcase for India

Posted by Darpan Munjal On October - 5 - 2009
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Over the past several months, I have been in touch with several bright entrepreneurs who have recently launched or are planning to launch an eCommerce related offering in India.  I am really excited that we have so much focus and energy around eCommerce and I really think that the landscape is about to change in India.

There is a perception out there that eCommerce is not really picking up in India and that companies are struggling to scale up their offerings. There is no question that the overall market is still pretty small in terms of numbers. However, we shouldn’t ignore that all factors are slowly moving in favor of eCommerce. Retail is getting more and more organized, availability of global brands is larger than ever, internet penetration is climbing and some internet retailers have started to focus on customer experience as a way to differentiate. Most importantly, and I can personally attest to this one , there are some extremely talented individuals who have recently launched new ventures and are passionate about making a big difference in the eCommerce space in India.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while – 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 »

Entrepreneurship in difficult times

Posted by Darpan Munjal On November - 24 - 2008
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It is about 6 weeks before Christmas. One can feel the holiday spirit in the air. However, something is missing. Even though one can see people shopping in the malls, there is a general gloominess in the air due to the worsening economy. The coming months look certain to bring more turmoil. Even if events do not turn out to be quite as bad as those of recent weeks, it is still highly likely that we will – in the words of US treasury secretary, Paulson – live in “extraordinary times” for quite some time.

Obviously this is not good news for online retailers. Although the US online retail has been hit much harder, there is clear evidence that eCommerce in India is slowing down as well. The question has now shifted from “will the internet economy be affected?” to “how bad will the internet economy be affected?

There is no question this downturn will be deadly for a considerable number of internet startups. However, some of the victims will not be killed by the recession itself; many would have inevitably failed because they didn’t have a sound, fundamental business case to begin with. A recession that makes it harder to generate revenue and to raise additional capital will simply speed up the dying process.

However, I am an optimist. I think there are plenty of reasons to believe that Read the rest of this entry »

Online Business Models for India

Posted by Darpan Munjal On June - 22 - 2008
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The stakes are getting high in the eCommerce space in India. As more and more online retailers enter the market, they are driving up the cost of customer acquisition. Although this level of entry in the eCommerce market is good from a long term perspective, the challenge is that most entrepreneurs don’t have the resources or capital to wait for years before they can see some signs of profitability. The good news is that there are still some business models out there, which are mostly untapped. If you execute these well, you can not only create uncontested market space, you can make it difficult for others to compete in the game. These ideas do require some innovation –however, I am not talking about a significant technological innovation – I am talking about innovation in service offerings that can help you leap outside the traditional industry boundaries. I have written most of my articles around B2C opportunities, in this article I will focus primarily on the B2B opportunities within the online space in India.

So what are some of these ideas? Well, before discussing the specific ideas, I want to start with some of the key traits of these business models. Most of the ideas that I will discuss have one common theme – low cost of initial acquisition and high switching costs. Read the rest of this entry »

Post Correction

Posted by Darpan Munjal On June - 4 - 2008
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I am not a big fan of Office 2007 interface, but I love its blogging capabilities. I can just write a normal word document and then directly post it to my WordPress account – with one click of a button. It is even cooler than the “One Click checkout” at Amazon! This had been working great for me – until now, that is! I accidentally published a draft post that had nothing more than some of my random thoughts.  Anyway, if you are subscribed to an offline reader such as Google Reader, that post was most likely pushed to you and you were probably wondering what that was all about. Well, now you know!  It was an accident. My Apologies.

I will be posting another article, hopefully this weekend, that features some of the opportunities and thoughts in eCommerce services/ platform space.


E-Commerce in India – Is it really Profitable??

Posted by Sachin.Singhal On May - 3 - 2008
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In one of my previous posts, I had extended the invitation to Commercewiki readers to contribute to this blog. This post is by one of the readers – Sachin Singhal who has done a great job in articulating the profitability situation of eCommerce in India. Thanks Sachin for your contribution – comments are welcome from everyone.

Yesterday I was listening to Avril Lavigne’s song “Tomorrow is a different day” and certainly believe it to be true when it comes to e-commerce industry in India.

No Doubt, Travel portals are outperforming in India. Travel alone constitutes 50% of Rs 4800 crore online market in 2007-08. Recently MakeMyTrip has touched whopping Rs1000 crores of turnover. It around 20% of total e-commerce market. It’s expected that travel portals will grow 65% annually. We are experiencing an exponential growth in this vertical. Are these companies making profit or able to break even? How much is the average cost of acquisition? Well these questions still lingers me. The average cost of acquisition in E-commerce industry is around Rs 1100. If the average order size on these travel portals is Rs 4000 and typical net margins are 6-7% (That too on the higher side), these portals will make only Rs 300 on average. That’s far below the cost of acquisition.But the big question arises how the Non-Travel Portals are performing in India? Read the rest of this entry »

Personalization & Product Recommendations

Posted by Darpan Munjal On April - 28 - 2008
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The unorganized retail business in India thrives on personalization. You walk into a local kirana (grocery) store and the store owner greets you with your name, asks about the family and then gives you a customary 5% discount for being a long time customer. He also knows the brand of tea you like and recommends you a new brand that just came out and then chats with you for few minutes about last night’s 20/20 cricket match. You end up making some impulse purchases while you are chatting and walk away happy with the overall experience. This level of personalization is a dream for the nationwide organized retailers, and although it may seem simple in a neighborhood grocery store, scaling it to a big-box retailer, with hundreds of employees and thousands of customers a day, is a different story.

But retailers are trying. As the retail environment gets more competitive, physical retailers have started shifting from a product centric to a customer centric mentality to connect with their customers. A large number of retailers now make the assortment decisions for what products to carry in their stores based upon the local demographics of the consumer visiting the store – as opposed to having a “one-size-fits-all” assortment for all the stores across the nation. Despite the serious constraints that are working against them such as supply chain and difficulty in capturing customer insights, the physical retailers are spending significant effort and resources in personalizing their strategies.

What about the online retailers?

One would think that things would be better in case of online retailers – where the customer insights are flowing in with every single click and the technology is available to act on these insights almost on a real time basis. While personalization seems easier to accomplish in that scenario, Read the rest of this entry »

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