Snapdeal's chief executive Kunal Bahl said the e-commerce marketplace aims to be profitable in two to three years. Speaking at the Converge Technology Conference in Hong Kong, he said the company is spending millions of dollars on building a strong tech infrastructure that will power its market strategies to generate returns.
"We are building the highways of commerce, investing tremendously in technology. Sustainable capabilities—not just scale—will bring profits," Bahl was quoted as saying by The Wall Street Journal.
The event was co-hosted by The Wall Street Journal and founders.
Snapdeal, founded in 2010, was started as an online deals site, which later pivoted to a full-fledged horizontal e-commerce company with a marketplace model in September 2011. Run by Delhi-based Jasper Infotech Pvt Ltd, it has become one of the fastest growing and among the top three online marketplaces in India, with over 12 million products across more than 500 categories and more than 150,000 sellers and millions of users. According to data from Internet analytics firm comScore, Snapdeal registered 17.9 million unique visitors in June this year.
Snapdeal has also been on an acquisition spree. In April this year, it acquired mobile recharge platform FreeCharge in what is being billed as the biggest acquisition in the internet business in India, surpassing the previous big buy of Myntra by Flipkart last year. FreeCharge, run by the Mumbai-based Accelyst Solutions Pvt Ltd, is one of India's top recharge platforms allowing users to pay their mobile, DTH and other utility bills across most major operators.
In yet another major acquisition, Snapdeal bought a minority stake in logistics firm QuickDel Logistics Pvt Ltd, which runs operations under the GoJavas brand. GoJavas was previously a part of Jabong, a lifestyle e-tailer incubated by Rocket Internet.
Besides these two, the Delhi-based company has, to date, acquired a number of firms including social product-discovery technology platform Doozton, mobile technology startup MartMobi, mobility solutions company Letsgomo Labs, gifting recommendation technology platform Wishpicker.com, group buying site Grabbon.com, online sports goods retailer eSportsBuy.com and online marketplace for handicrafts Shopo.in.
Targeting the large Indian household segment that isn't yet online, Snapdeal formed a 50:50 joint venture (JV) with cable TV distribution network, Den Networks Ltd, to extend its reach to TV home shopping audiences. "We're probably the only e-commerce company that probably went backwards," Bahl said at the event.
Snapdeal, which counts SoftBank, eBay, Intel Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Temasek, Myriad, Tybourne, Blackrock, PremjiInvest, Kalaari and Nexus among its investors, recently also roped in Tata Sons' chairman emeritus Ratan Tata as a small private investor.