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Ecommerce: Launchpad for start-ups in India

The unprecedented growth of ecommerce in India is on its way to transform the start-up landscape in the country. Categories across the board such as fashion & lifestyle, electronics, consumer durables, furniture, and food and beverage are embracing the online portal to drive consumers.

According to marketing pundits, the biggest nightmare of start-ups in India is visibility. Amid hundreds of thousands of products available under the single category, start-ups have to struggle hard to secure a market share of themselves. In this condition, dedicated sections of ecommerce platforms come to the rescue.

Global ecommerce baron Amazon has launched Amazon Launchpad in US to serve as a platform for innovative technological start-ups. The platform has identified 15-20 hardware companies worldwide and it is promoting the offering of these companies on its page called Amazon Launchpad. “Amazon has created a unique programme and is also lending marketing support to the start-ups for greater visibility,” said Aditya Agarwal, Co-founder and Director of ICE X Electronics, a merchant on the Launchpad.

Mr Agarwal pointed that in the initial stage of the business, it is possible that the product offering may not be showcased at the right platform on ecommerce as sales on ecommerce are largely driven by discounts and offers for products which feature on the front panel.

“But a dedicated platform for start-ups places the product so that it is visible to the consumer. Amazon acts as a pseudo incubator and reinforcement by such a platform gives credibility to the product and confidence to the consumer,” he said.

Since the inception of Amazon Launchpad, ICE X Electronics has registered impressive results too. Visibility of the brand has gone up significantly, the order volume has spiked four times, and the payment cycle has also reduced, according to Mr Agarwal. “From order of 300-400 units our order volumes have grown to 2000-2500 units on back of Launchpad,” he added.

This shift also highlights the trend of ecommerce platform moving away from the big brands and exploring opportunities in the start-up space. In bid to provide a larger variety to its consumers, ecommerce players seeks to boost variety on the platform by a large number.

However, the business model of US Amazon’s Launchpad is still nascent in India. But Red Polka, an ecommerce enabler in the fashion and lifestyle segment has assumed the role as an online fashion curator.

Red Polka exhibits offering of fashion brands on its website and then guide them to sellers for an actual sale. Some of the merchants on Red Polka include Ikkadukka.com, Tortus, Rangrage, chungi.in, Dhoop. Red Polka has over 85 brands who have registered with the platform for a fee. Vishakha Singh, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Red Polka said the fee is a testament that the brands are committed to build a community online. “We curate designs from the fashion and lifestyle segment and address their need to get discovered, “she added.

Curation is based on the profile of the shoppers who access Red Polka and their interests. “We make this curation more interesting by packing it in a weekly themed curation as they have a lot of content to engage,” Ms Singh said.

Going forward, we can expect home-grown ecommerce honchos such as Flipkart and Snapdeal joining the league of Red Polka and Amazon and identify start-ups brands with potential and list them on dedicated platforms. Over the last few years, marketplaces have expanded and become diverse, therefore the need for enablers has also become crucial.