A blog on eCommerce, Social Commerce, Comparative Shopping Engines & Business

By Hendrik Laubscher

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Indian eCommerce is developing

India is at the moment one of the most written about ecommerce markets. The size of the country is contributing to the rapid development and investment into Indian ecommerce. Amazon is supposedly considering the market in 2012, so the local businesses are trying to get set before big A arrives.

As it is a developing internet market it poses challenges to international companies who are considering entering the market. I believe everyone who is interesting in the market are either considering acquisitions to enter the market or are investing heavily to ensure that their offers will draw Indian internet users.

Investment firms have pumped $140 million into e-commerce startups over the past six months, compared with just $48 million in 2010 — while the valuations of some startups soared four to six times, according to a recent article in Forbes India.

The big thing is that companies who did not get involved in China for example are looking at India as a market to enter. The concern is that they don’t want the short end of the deal again.

Entering a developing economy is not anything like the challenges facing investors going in a mature developed market. You will face bigger challenges which will be solved with creative thinking as seen with Flipkart.

Founded in 2007 by Sachin and Binny Bansal, two Indians formerly employed at Amazon, Flipkart has succeeded by adjusting the e-commerce model to fit local conditions. With credit-card penetration low, and the postal service and couriers notorious for lost and delayed shipments, the company pioneered a cash-on-delivery payment system and an in-house courier system that covers almost one-fourth of the country. Now selling music, movies, games and software, mobile phones and electronics, as well as books, the company reportedly does $6 million in sales per month.

Flipkart is the darling of the Indian market at the moment.. but many other competitors will arrive as other companies want part of the action.

Update: After writing this post and thinking carefully about the fact that ecommerce is a global industry I failed to add that Amazon is definitely a factor in India. After  seeing an article from comScore I think that one needs to always keep in mind that the big eCommerce players will impact your market. It would be ignorant to not have Amazon, eBay etc in mind.

Decide.com helping stop buyers regret

I have also decided to also mention some online products or startups that I think that are going places. For the record I am not an investor nor am I affiliated to any of these companies.

The first one I am going to mention is Decide.com.

Backed by science, not marketing.

Decide is all about leveraging data and technology, not marketing ploys, to help shoppers. We use our patent-pending machine learning and text mining algorithms on billions of price points across millions of products, blog posts, and articles on the web to enable shoppers to make the best buying decision possible.

As I love gadgets, I often find myself wondering if I am in a retail store (yes, I do go the bricks and mortar shops) if I am getting the best deal. With the emergence of mobile apps and mobi sites , the shopper can get the final piece of information to make a purchase decision. Decide takes this a step further and do price predictions to ensure that you buy the latest version and am not getting ripped off.

Don’t get burned on price.

Price predictions help you pull the trigger with confidence and save money. Our prediction algorithms utilize billions of observed price movements and over 40 distinct factors.

I think this startup is heading into a space which could be beneficial to entire eCommerce industry. Giving the user more ammunition that the price is right and that there is not a new model on the way soon is trust building factors, that cannot easily be done in the current online shopping experience. As soon as they add more categories (only cameras, LCD TV’s and  notebooks) then I think they could become an acquisition target.

The select eCommerce crowd

I have a confession to make. After I started my current job, I started to look for the important people in eCommerce to follow. You know the type, the individuals who play an important role in shaping the market/ environment thorough their expertise. When they speak at conferences or are featured in magazine articles the information become gospel. If they speak then the market listens. I have looked high and low and have found nothing, nada that is helpful. So I decided to make a list.

The people I respect due to their work and thoughts are the following (in the coming weeks, each one will get a post with further explanation as to why they are here)

  • Jeff Bezos – Founder, president, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and chairman of the board of Amazon.com.
  • Sam Walton –  Founder  Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club
  • Jack Abraham – Director of Local @ eBay & Founder of Milo.com.
  • Romero Rodrigues – Founder and president of BuscaPé
  • Tara Hunt – CEO, Buyosphere
  • Tony Hsieh – CEO, Zappos.com
  • Jack Ma – CEO, Alibaba

This list is not in any rank or order as that would complicate the matter even further..

Update: I forgot to add Jack Ma from Alibaba to the list

Changes on my blog

I have decided that it is time for change. I have been sitting on the fence too long and talk a lot but don’t execute in terms of writing.

So I have changed to a new theme and switched off all comments as I feel it detracts from the point of this blog. If you feel the need to comment on a piece of writing that I have done, please contact me  and I will post it.

Secondly, as this is new, I suspect there will be some bugs and failures please bare with me as I resolve them over the coming days. I am going to post more (I know I have been saying this for a while) and the content will be in various lengths. Some will be short ala John Gruber and some will be long and in depth.

A hat tip to Ben Brooks of The Brooks Review for pointing me in the right direction about the changes.


Leadership & Leading People

I decided to go against the current wave of reading and talking about international entrepreneurs and look for local entrepreneurs that have made an impact. The problem I see is that younger South Africans focus on the impact that Richard Branson, The Google Guys (Larry and Sergey) and many other international entrepreneurs have made. I understand, as most of these are well known and there is a fair amount of literature available about them and their successes. The problem I have is that the South African market and economy is totally different. The principles are the same but I do feel that local market knowledge needs to be talked about. Being in an developing market has it’s own challenges and cannot for one moment be seen as the same as a developed market.

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