It appears Alibaba is planning to create a replica business in India via Paytm. As Alibaba pumped in another $1.3 billion into its offline retail strategy in China, its Indian portfolio company Paytm Mall is planning to launch a physical store in India.
The online shopping platform will launch a brick-and-mortar store co-branded with Red Tape shoes in Delhi, where customers can walk in, scan product barcodes, browse and make purchases via its mobile app.
“India is too vast a country to be served by online-only retail and, given the rudimentary logistics infrastructure and customer preferences that vary from one district to the next, new retail will be the unique differentiator,” said Amit Sinha, Chief Operating Officer at Paytm Ecommerce.
Since Paytm e-commerce, a spun-off entity of One97, announced the launch of Paytm Mall in February last year, it has been trying every maneuver to establish a faithful customer base. Thus, it has been betting big on O2O (online-to-offline) commerce.
Last June, with an aim to get neighborhood stores and merchants onboard and online, the e-commerce platform introduced O2O commerce feature on its platform.
The platform allows physical stores to display QR codes, allowing customers to scan the code, browse and shop from the store’s catalogue on Paytm Mall. The feature was aimed to enable better discovery of products and allow users the benefit of buying online from local stores, according to the e-commerce company.
Recently, all the retail platforms have shown leaning towards an omnichannel presence where they can leverage both the offline and online segment. Flipkart-owned Myntra and online furniture retailers Pepperfry and Urbanladder are also venturing into the offline world.
The world’s largest e-commerce firm, Amazon India is making its presence felt in India’s $60 billion organized retail market.
Through strategic investment and tie-ups, Amazon has started making gradual inroads into offline retail parlance in India. In September, it picked up a 5 per cent stake in Shoppers Stop for Rs 179.26 crore.
The world’s largest retailer Walmart is also exploring both the online and offline space. In August 2016, it announced the acquisition of Jet.com, a 13-month-old e-commerce website. With this acquisition, Walmart’s aim was to create a force against the world’s biggest online retailer Amazon.
Besides, it is also in talks with Flipkart to buy 15-20 per cent stake in the Indian e-commerce company. The deal, if materializes, opens the gate for Walmart to find its ground in the Indian online e-commerce space.
The development was first reported by Bloomberg.