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Indian ecommerce gets hyper-local

News, 25 May 2015

NEW DELHI: The competitive world of Indian ecommerce is getting ever more local, as a new breed of start-up partners with neighbourhood stores to deliver products within hours of purchase.

The co-founder of one such business explained that even though more and more Indians were accessing the internet, most of them – almost 90% – had yet to do any online shopping. Possible deterrents include concerns over the quality of products bought this way and worries over aftersales support.

"This is where a hyper-local commerce model comes in and connects local retailers to buyers," Neeraj Jain of Zopper, told the Economic Times. "Consumers know from which nearby shop the product is being delivered from, they can go to same local shop to get their problems resolved and thing are delivered in a few hours," he said.

Zopper is an app that deals in consumer durables and electronics, enabling a consumer looking to search for products and see details of local retailers selling them along with price comparisons. It currently has around 5,000 active retailers in three cities on its platform and is aiming to expand that fivefold, adding another 15 cities during the course of 2015.

Investors are following the trend: Abheek Anand, principal at venture fund Sequoia Capital, described it as one of "disrupt[ing] e-commerce 1.0 by providing consumers with the unprecedented convenience of delivery in minutes, instead of in days".

With such short delivery times the new approach is effectively on-demand, enabled, Anand explained, by "hyper-local logistics technology, a mobile-first consumer experience and local retailer partnerships".

With big money eyeing up this niche sector, the industry giants are also getting involved. Amazon, for example, is trialling Kirana Now, an on-demand delivery service which sources from local mom-and-pop stores and guarantees deliveries within two to four hours.

"We've been leading the way on speed and reach so it was a natural progression to get in to this segment," said Amit Agarwal, Amazon's country head. "The best way was to partner with sellers who were closest to the customers."

Logistics have been a particular issue for leading etailers which have sometimes struggled to fulfil orders and Jain highlighted the "huge" difference in delivery costs involved when an item is supplied locally rather than from a remote warehouse.

Ultimately, Agarwal argued, the "power of execution" would become important and Amazon had advantages that regard.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff