Many e-commerce companies claim that mobile accounts for over 40 per cent of their total traffic and is growing at a fast rate. At the recently concluded Techcircle Startup 2014 event, eminent panellists discussed the opportunities in the mobile commerce in India. The panel, which was moderated by Manik Arora, founder and MD of IDG Ventures, highlighted how e-com companies are tapping the growth in this unexplored segment. Following are some of the forward-looking observations made by the panelists:
Manik Arora, founder and MD, IDG Ventures
We haven't really had any big take-offs of the mobile models which is surprising because historically, Indian companies struggled to get their product in the market as they had to go with tele-operators, among others, who would take their pound of flesh to enable them to get to the consumers. With the advent of global play stores, this seems to have changed. Now, you can expect Indian companies to have higher margins and scales and even go outside India though it has been somewhat limited. Monetising through transaction, advertising or subscription has been a challenge in India. Eventually, advertising should take off as user base is much larger. We expect transaction size to increase around payments but it is a little complex. On the enterprise side, there are some players who have gone global with lower price points and functionality type of proposition to the market and had some success. There are new-gen companies on cloud that have had success.
Shriram Krishnamachari, head of sales and business development India, Intuit
Quickbooks, which is an online accounting software focused first on cloud, got users, traction and engagement and then launched a mobile app. In the mobile space, it is more of an engagement rather than an adoption that helps attain great heights. It makes sense for emerging start-ups to focus on the market as the cloud market stands at $400 million in India. Also, SMEs are spending close to $7 billion in IT spending every year. It is important to define your target audience and go as narrow as possible. If you're solving too many problems, then prioritising may suffer and lead to failure. When we came to India, we focused on one vertical in one city and now we are looking at acquiring companies that are solving product gaps. Delivering an awesome customer experience is the hardest to solve.
Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO, Olacabs
On mobile you are very close to the user as you have access to his/her location and contact list. Mobile offers some interesting tools to build your products and design as people use a cab when they are on the go. Mobile is costlier and it is important to make sure that you don't spam him with notifications. For making payments, we have card swiping in the cabs but the wallet experience is seamless. We are talking to players like MobiKwik to integrate it in our app.
Bipin Preet Singh, founder and CEO, MobiKwik
Mobile is an unexplored category till today yet it has maximum potential looking at the rate at which the smart phones penetration is growing in India. We have come to the scale of 100,000 transactions everyday without actually spending a lot of money as a lot of payments methods that are prevalent in India and globally like PayPal, Google wallet don't work for majority of Indians who are on smartphones today. That's again something that only Indian companies can do which is of course due to some regulations also. Every field in India is open or virgin. While many people are developing apps, the scale that has been achieved on mobile is still far too less compared with the potential that exists.
Fortunately, the user has progressed faster than the enterprises (especially the financial institutions) which means that the user has adopted new technologies,
smartphones and apps. Pressing one button should help make any payment. But the current payment infrastructure doesn't support that. Since these are early days there are many potential ways of solving the same problem.