Friday, April 26, 2013

What Indian Internet Businesses Need: Article in CIO featuring Ritesh Raj Gupta

It is estimated that around 3.74 lakh tickets are booked on IRCTC in a day. Despite the reported sluggishness of the site, it is the best possible proof of the Internet’s growing popularity and dependence in India.  

India has around 150 million Internet users, and that’s just at a mere 12 percent penetration rate. Despite that, it is the third-largest Internet population in the world, behind China and the U.S. New online retailers are mushrooming virtually every month, and growth in Internet usage is mainly driven by mobile, social, and tablet usage.

Till now, Internet in India was just a numbers game. But that’s about to change.
E-commerce giants around the country are struggling to please an uber-demanding and price-sensitive market, while keeping a competitive edge. The general lack of infrastructure pertaining to logistics, distribution, and highly available and cost-effective bandwidth in India is soon set to make the business model unsustainable.
In the current ecosystem, businesses report high costs of logistics and servicing clients. Inadequate systems for online payment and transaction further hinder the experience for users. And finally, cheap and easy access to Internet is still a distant dream.
CIOs in the industry are increasingly turning to BI, analytics, and mobility solutions to identify the gaps in customer experience, and turning to IT to fill those gaps. But, in this game, the government of India is a very crucial player. And, as is evident from the growing numbers of IRCTC, it will alsagazineo be the biggest gainer.
The CIO magazine spoke to the CIOs of some of India’s leading e-commerce companies regarding what India’s Internet businesses need, and this is what they said:

Ritesh Raj Gupta, Vice President, AaramShop
“Internet-driven business is an opportunity that needs to be tapped into by every physical business. Internet has to be one of the key channels in a multi-channel strategy. For us at AaramShop, therefore, grocery retailing on the Internet is not the preserve of a few, but the opportunity which has to be made available to millions of retailers across the country and their consumers.”

Ranjit Satyanath, Customer Care Associate and Sr. General Manager, Solutions and Technology, Shoppers Stop
“Currently, people buy things online for convenience and discounts. While the former benefit should continue into the future, online players won’t be able sustain giving discounts for very long. They are now trying to differentiate themselves on assortment, user-experience and quality of service.
The challenge facing the industry today is the general lack of infrastructure in the country with respect to distribution and logistics. Add to that the Quixotic tax regime we have inIndia. Online retailers are also finding it tough to attract and retain talent because in our country, startups are generally perceived as risky career options and not without good reason—this is often reflected in the user-experience on Indian sites. I also think that Indian online retailers give more importance to features than to design and user-experience.”