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AskMe expands e-commerce business by purchasing majority stake in MebelKart.com


Local search platform AskMe.com, owned by Getit Infomedia Pvt Ltd, is expanding its e-commerce business by investing $20 million for a majority stake in online furniture and home needs marketplace MebelKart.com.

AskMe will own 75 per cent stake in Mebelkart Technologies Pvt Ltd, which runs MebelKart.com, as per a news report in The Economic Times, quoting Askme  group CMO Manav Sethi.

The deal will be completed over the next three quarters, Sethi, who is also head of digital strategy at AskMe, told the publication.

Separate emails sent to AskMe and MebelKart seeking further details on the transaction did not immediately elicit a response.

Bangalore-based MebelKart was founded in 2012 by IIT-Delhi graduates Rahul Agarwal, Nikhil Saraf and Ranjeet Vimal. The startup claims to have over 1,000 sellers on its platform, selling over 100,000 furniture products across the country.

AskMe is an online search platform that provides information across merchants, deals, classified and commerce. It also enables small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to be discovered and increase their business through online transactions.

The company made its foray into the grocery marketplace recently with the acquisition of Accelity BestAtLowest Online Services Pvt Ltd, which operates through BestAtLowest.com. The e-commerce portal became part of AskMe along with its team of 25 people, including founders Ankit Jain and Amit Nigam.

Getit Infomedia (previously known as Getit Infoservices) also has another online platform called AskMeBazaar, which allows SMEs to sell their products. AskMeBazaar manages delivery and payment collection for transactions on the platform.

Getit Infomedia offers services across print, online and voice media and is present in over 35 cities. The firm is supported by Malaysia’s Astro (as a strategic investor) besides VC investor Helion Venture Partners. Last year, the company had acquired Infomedia Yellow Pages and AskMe from Network18 group.

Its biggest rival is Mumbai-based Just Dial Ltd, which runs an India-specific local business listing platform.

Justdial is slowly trying to morph into an e-commerce marketplace. It had expanded the scope of its B2C transaction based services by adding product e-commerce marketplace in May this year.

With product e-commerce, Justdial is now entering a much wider market which can add to its revenue stream. The company has added a ‘shop online’ feature on the homepage where it lists products across several categories such as mobile, appliances, electronics. In addition, it has listed a host of other categories that are not pushed by big e-commerce marketplaces such as tiles, sanitaryware, bicycle, paints, etc. Being a marketplace, it essentially connects consumers to third-party vendors and only acts as a platform linking the buyers and sellers while facilitating the transaction.

Thus, Justdial is transitioning from being purely a provider of local search and related information to being an enabler of such transactions. Currently separate set of firms cater to products related sales (e-commerce) and booking local services. Justdial is trying to integrate both in a single platform leveraging on its deep penetration with local businesses service providers.

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