How Snapdeal is connecting dots between supply and demand in india??

Nice interview of Kunal Bahl co-founder of snapdeal.

How the company changed from being an online discount site to a player in e-commerce space:

Knowledge@Wharton: When we last spokeat Wharton three years ago — Snapdeal had 10 million users, and you had called it a “discovery platform” for Indian consumers. Now, SoftBank’s $627 million investment in Snapdeal is the largest single investment in the history of Indian e-commerce. So, can you take us through your journey over the past three years, and how it led to this investment?

Bahl: We have had an interesting journey, even getting to the point when we last spoke. We had taken many pivots along the way. We started as a coupon book business, then mobile coupons, discount cards…. Then Snapdeal became a deals platform, which we started viewing increasingly as a discovery platform. That was the phase of evolution we were in when we met three years ago.

It was an interesting juncture in our business. We started feeling that the core deals platform was not going to be as large a business as we originally thought it would be. We were trying to figure out how to expand the scope of our platform to enable consumers to get access to not only services, or deals, but also products. A few months after we met, I went to China. It was December of 2011. There, we met with many e-commerce companies, including Alibaba. We realized that if we attached a large products-merchant marketplace to the demand pipe we had, theoretically-speaking, intent would meet availability and transactions would grow.

So we came back from China and, in January 2012, we almost overnight changed our business model from being very services or deals focused, to a-product-focused marketplace. It was a very drastic shift, and one that surprised many people, including our board and our management team. But it was the right thing for the company. We felt that using the demand pipe, the platform and the brand trust we had created, we could significantly move the needle for these product merchants. At some level, it’s a much larger space to go after and a much bigger need to solve. Suddenly, you are making a percentage of India’s consumption — which is about $1.2 trillion to $1.3 trillion — more efficient as compared to just catering to a small subset of it.

That’s where we were at in January 2012. But at that point, our business was back to zero merchants, zero products and a bunch of users. It has taken a lot of work since then. Our goal at that point in time was to get to 20,000 merchants on our platform in five years. We were quite blessed to have the team we have; in two-and-a-half years, we had more than 50,000 merchants doing the key billing part of their sales through our platform. It was increasing at 600% year-on-year, to reach more than 30 million users now. So, things have evolved pretty significantly since we last spoke. And the business has also changed quite significantly.

Indian e-commerce space is hotting up big time..

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