Snapdeal is seeking to emulate social media giant Facebook in the commercial media space as it looks to expand its footprint. Kunal Bahl, CEO & co-founder, Snapdeal, is creating a clan of apps, just the way Facebook did with FB, Whatsapp, Instagram and Messenger. “Facebook had become a monolithic platform; now, they have a bunch of popular apps,” said Bahl.
Facebook bought Whatsapp and Instagram to complete the social media family. Likewise, Snapdeal has bought Freecharge, Rupeepower and Exclusively. “The e-commerce world will follow the same hierarchy as the social media,” said Bahl.
Bahl said it is critical for all apps to be accessed through a single-user account, which does not exist now, and that is what he’s working on. This is similar to what Facebook has done — providing access to its family of apps through a single-user account.
Freecharge is a mobile commerce platform where users can make DTH and utility payments through their mobile, across most major operators. “Every day, 75 million mobile recharges are done in India, but only 2.5 million are conducted online,” said Bahl.
Also, by taking a majority stake in Rupeepower, Snapdeal made its foray into financial services, such as distributing loans, instant loan approvals, credit cards and other personal finance products. Exclusively, on the other hand, deals in luxury fashion. “India is a $15-million luxury market, and a Jimmy Choo might not sell on Snapdeal,” said Bahl.
Analysts believe that Snapdeal is trying to build an ecosystem of apps for the commercial space. “Once a consumer enters the ecosystem of apps, he won’t need to go to other apps for his requirements,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst, Greyhound Research.
Talk about ecosystem, and it’s evident that Bahl does not want to leave any stone unturned. Through Capital Assist, a platform for sellers who give loans, Snapdeal has distributed R100 crore to create online entrepreneurs, typically sellers on Snapdeal.
Once the platforms are connected, Bahl expects a huge spurt in sales. For this, he has invested in GoJavas, a logistics company. Bahl said that GoJavas will build the captive capacity for Snapdeal at cheaper delivery rates. “When we have surge in orders, we know that we have built the capacity to furnish them,” said Bahl. Already, Snapdeal and GoJavas are trying services like three-hour delivery and try-and-buy services.
Snapdeal has already earmarked $1 billion for acquisitions. After financial services, luxury and mobile payments, Bahl will go for travel, healthcare and education. However, all investments will be towards building marketplaces, even in new businesses. “Why can’t we do healthcare consultation over mobile? The same applies for eduction — there are more students than teachers in this country,” he said.
The idea is to move away from pure-play e-commerce and look at consumption. While the consumption economy in the country is $1.3 trillion, retail is $500 billion, said Bahl. “Competitive advantage can’t last long in this market. We have to create a network.”
* Creating a clan of apps as Facebook did with Whatsapp, FB, Instagram and Messenger
* Snapdeal has bought Freecharge, Rupeepower and Exclusively
* Once the platforms are connected, CEO Bahl expects a huge spurt in sales