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What happens if Flipkart, Amazon & IRCTC join hands in India

E-tailers in India are trying their hands on every possible means to reach the digital savvy consumer. After splashing large investments on Diwali discounts and other flash sales, ecommerce biggies Flipkart and Amazon India have come forward to test a relatively cost effective model – Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation’s (IRCTC) database.

The billion dollar question is how effectively can these two ecommerce poster boys tap on to the consumer who is already comfortable with the most basic form on online transactions but not largely exposed to online shopping.

Anurag Singh, Affle India

Anurag Singh, Affle India

“IRCTC is the largest ecommerce platform in India with huge potential. Flipkart and Amazon are trying to tap on the e-transactioner and get them to shop online for lifestyle products,” said Anurag Singh, Co-founder and Executive Director – India (Ads Platform) at Affle India.

Marketers attribute IRCTC as the largest and oldest ecommerce platform in the country. It entered the market long before Flipkart and Amazon made their moves to lure the internet consumer. What can be expected if these three giants join hands?

Unarguably, access to IRCTC’s database will transform the business model for the e-tailers but it may fail to impress the consumer. “This is a push technology but when you reach out to a consumer through paid advertising then the impact is way larger,” said Satish Jha, Chairman, ECCO Electronics Pvt Ltd.

Satish Jha, ECCO

Satish Jha, ECCO


If they get the consumer on IRCTC it does not guarantee that they will reach out to a larger consumer base and face a large upsurge in their revenues. We will have to wait for the numbers to determine the effectiveness of this strategy.

But IRCTC has recorded strong revenues through the sale of its value added services other than online ticketing. Now the two ecommerce platform wants to reach out to the over 21 million user that logs onto the ticketing platform everyday.

Daman Soni, Business Head of India at LINE PLUS Corporation cited privacy concerns that IRCTC might put in way of granting approval. “It cannot be denied that IRCTC has an enormous consumer base but getting approval to approach these consumers is not going to be easy,” he said.

Daman Soni, LINE

Daman Soni, LINE

Flipkart and Amazon India are still in talks with the government owned portal to gain access and leverage the large consumer base. But marketers suspect that the move may come in way of fair growth and competition. This may work as a limiting factor for an e-tailer which is not reaching out to the IRCTC customer.

Tapping on to a larger consumer base of an established ecommerce platform in India may reduce the need for Flipkart or Amazon to device and come forth with newer offers and deals to reach a fresh group of audience.

However, brands fail to understand that India is a market with enormous potential which lies untapped in the consumer that is still not connected to the web. The market in India is clamouring for marketing strategies that can include this group of people in the ecommerce bandwagon.