2014 was a defining year for the Indian startup ecosystem. Compared to the rest of the decade, a number of significant events and activities had changed the very nature of the startup world. Companies like Flipkart,Snapdeal, PayTm, Zomato, etc had redefined ‘scale’ and investors had started placing big bets on them. These companies darted ahead of the pack, to not just dominate their markets, but to grow it too. Of course, they were helped by a conducive environment – mobile phones, internet connectivity etc – but they also built infrastructure, people and processes that could handle a different order of scale than what they themselves could have imagined a few years ago. These startups demonstrated the potential and the competence to build world-scale companies and created new goalposts for entrepreneurs to aspire for.
As a result of e-commerce, a number of enabling technology and service companies started becoming more meaningful. Analytics, online engagement platforms, delivery companies etc found a much larger market to address their business case, and therefore their investment-worthiness became stronger. What remains to be seen is how effectively the e-commerce industry will retain customers once the discounting era is over and customers have to buy on the fundamental value proposition of e-commerce i.e. ease of access and choice. We may see some changed market dynamics at that stage, and the transition phase may throw up some new, unexpected leaders.
Continue reading “Changing dynamics in India’s startup eco-system”
Getting a consumer durable brand in the market meant significant investments in distribution, on-ground displays, marketing and everything else that was traditionally associated with the launch of a consumer durable brand.
I.e. creating a consumer product brand required large capital, and therefore was not something that new and emerging entrepreneurs without access to capital could aspire to do.
Xiaomi just debunked that theory with a model execution of a creative & unconventional strategy.
Without opening a single store, without keeping the products on shelves in physical stores, without spending on advertising, this China-headquartered company has already become the world’s 3rd largest handset manufacturer in just under 3 years time since launch.
Continue reading “Guest Post – Building a Consumer Product Brand with Virtual Infrastructure: Going the Xiaomi Way”
Brands will have to quickly and efficiently integrate virtual and physical infrastructure in consumer retail to remain relevant in the marketplace
Perhaps no other industry in history has seen such a radical transformation in such a short period of time as consumer retail has, and continues to, especially in India. Even the telecom transformation was spread over a decade or more to become transformational for the industry and the consumer.
Technology, e-commerce and multiple mediums of interaction and social-commerce etc. are drivers of change in consumer retail. The nature of the buying behaviour of the consumer has changed fundamentally in the past few years, and continues to evolve as multiple channels of interaction become part of the consumer’s product discovery, decision-making, purchase, post-sales support, and overall consumer experience.
Now, also imagine the Tesco example above being integrated with NFC and analytics. E.g. given that it is a virtual wall, unlike the physical stores, the inventory displayed can be changed dynamically depending on who’s in front of the wall. Imagine a new parent getting packets of diapers in front of him, while the teenager behind her seeing acne cream displayed in front of her. The technologies for all these exist.
While the environment has changed, and e-commerce and m-commerce and offline and online marketplaces coexist, the industry continues to operate in silos – the e-commerce players and offline retailers operate as two different and philosophically competing worlds.
As a result, it is the consumer who is currently making the efforts to navigate the online and offline worlds, as neither traditional retailers, nor new offline retail format brands or e-commerce players have made any substantial effort to integrate the consumer experience across different touch points.
Continue reading “Guest Post – The era of truly click and brick: making the elephant dance”