Currently travellers finish all their shopping before boarding the train. According to a report in Business Standard, if the Indian Railways plan to join hands with e-commerce players—Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal—works, then travellers could be shopping all the way in their reserved compartments till they reach their destination. While the move will add heft to railways non-fare revenues, it will be a game-changer for e-commerce companies as they will be in a position to cater to the needs of half a billion reserved railway travellers annually, many of whom have never shopped online.
Under the profit-sharing plan, the railways would allow e-commerce companies to set up warehouses and pick-up points across 400 stations. The move works to the benefit of both parties: the railways have been looking to raise non-fare revenues by 10-20% while e-commerce companies are looking to a deeper presence in smaller towns.
This also fits into the railway plan to equip 100 major railway stations with high speed Wi-Fi connectivity with the help of Google by the end of the year. Already close to 60 stations provide the service. The railways are also looking to allow cab aggregators to tap railway passengers in big cities. What that means is that a fully-charged mobile phone will be the key determinant while travelling long-distance on Indian Railways in the not-too-distant future. It would over time affect the viability of brick and mortar stores.