Snapdeal expects its recently launched zero-commission marketplace Shopo and ongoing seller financing programmes to attract 100,000 new merchants in the next six months.
"We are right now at 200,000 sellers. It took three years for us to get to 200,000 and my sense is that in the next six months we will add 50,000 to 100,000 sellers," Anand Chandrasekaran, Snapdeal's chief product officer, told Techcircle.in.
E-commerce players are trying to encourage more small and medium businesses to sell online. Snapdeal itself has plans to induct one million sellers over the next three years onto its online marketplace. Some of the company's recent inorganic moves have been aimed at improving the online experience for sellers. Earlier this month, Snapdeal acquired US-based Reduce Data Inc, a startup that runs a programmatic display advertising platform, for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition will help Snapdeal build a 'world class discovery platform' for sellers.
Snapdeal's larger rival Flipkart also aims to treble its seller base to over 100,000. In March, Amazon said that over 20,000 sellers were present on the India marketplace.
With Shopo (a mobile-only platform), which allows individuals to become sellers at the click of a button for both new and used goods, Jasper Infotech Pvt Ltd-owned Snapdeal is taking on the likes of Quikr, Olx and Paytm. Shopo allows entrepreneurs to list their products without submitting any documents and avoid long verification procedures. Also, they do not have to pay any commission on sales.
"We have one new listing every five seconds on Shopo. We have 500,000 listing, 28,000 shops and 20,000 sellers within 6-8 weeks on Shopo," said Chandrasekaran.
Snapdeal has tied up with banks and NBFCs such as SBI, Axis Bank, Tata Capital, IIFL, HDFC Bank, RBL Bank, L&T Finance, Reliance Capital, Lending Kart and Capital Float for its SME finance programme 'Capital Assist', which was launched in March 2014.
Under the scheme, sellers get loans between Rs 100,000 and Rs 1 crore for their working capital requirements.
Chandrasekaran said the company has so far facilitated loans worth Rs 100 crore to over 300 sellers through this scheme.
"Going forward that number will only improve," he said.
Snapdeal-owned online recharge and bill payment firm Freecharge recently launched a mobile wallet scheme in partnership with YES Bank.
Christened FreeCharge Digital Wallet, the new offering would compete with similar facilities offered by Paytm, Mobikwik, PayU and other players.
Snapdeal and Freecharge will collectively give away Rs 1,000 crore through cashback, coupons and discounts in the next one year in order to get more digital wallet customers.
The move makes the competition between Snapdeal and Paytm (run by One97 Communication Ltd) even more pronounced. However, Chandrasekaran plays down any rivalry.
"In payments space, enemy is cash, not each other. We are only wasting our time if we are comparing ourselves against each other and using vanity matrix like total wallets to describe our own businesses. It is not a meaningful argument," he added.
Snapdeal says that its teams are ready to manage the spike in sales expected during the upcoming Divali festival which is when retail consumption and online shopping peak in India.
"Divali is the World Cup final for e-commerce in India and stakes are even higher for us at Snapdeal," Chandrasekaran said.
"It is during Divali many people discover e-commerce for the first time. So it is very important as it creates the first impression among a lot of people," he said.
Flipkart, Snapdeal and other e-commerce platforms faced customer flak during Divali last year.
Most e-commerce portals could not handle the surge in traffic caused by deep discounts and faltered on the delivery front.
Chandrasekaran says that Snapdeal is on a firm footing this time around.
"We have been preparing for this from the last Divali, which in a way was our first Divali. We were genuinely new. We had not handled that kind of traffic," said Chandrasekaran.
Snapdeal's flash sales platform is today capable of taking 10X more orders compared to a regular day. "For any kind of unplanned scenario there is some stress. Our hope is that all our testing and preparations will come in handy. We have stress tested our platform," he said.