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Sansanikhez Khulaasaa: Marketplaces Spamming Sellers | Why Spam Sellers with non-seller-y and irrelevant seller-y newsletters?

So when I signed up on eBay to sell seriously, I signed up with a new email address, to be my new business email. I had no idea what kind of these notification emails I can expect and how many. After listings were live and sales started coming in, within a week I end up creating 9 labels for various kind of mails from eBay, which also were not enough, I still had to manually label a few.

So I noticed apart from all the notifications about sold listings, new listings, payment, buyer seller messages, ended listings and claims, I was also getting the usual spam that they send to their email list of registered buyers. Soon, as I signed up with new marketplaces, Amazon, Snapdeal, Paytm, Shopclues & Flipkart I used the same email. And within a few days, to my very expected horror my mailbox was full of 100s of unread irrelevant emails making it impossible to find any relevant account related update mails, related to listings and support ones as I was still learning the ropes then.

I am a 0 inbox person, i.e. no mail is to be left unread unless there is action pending on that particular mail thread. I continued painfully sorting, labelling and deleting all of the garbage for as long as I could, every morning 30 mins of mailbox cleansing, it was my meditation, dont judge please. But joking aside, it was necessary otherwise it was simply impossible to work with these guys, the marketplace waaley.

One fine day, I was in a f**kall mood and decided to skip the cleansing and got straight to work, only looked for relevant subjects, from 70-90 odd mails and read 9-12 relevant ones, am sure I must have missed a few but time was in short supply and I simply could not afford to do the cleanse anymore. Today I proudly have 1400 unread mails in my Inbox and I am 100% sure I must have missed a couple of 200% critical updates which I will get to know in the form of penalties.

What is this if not unethical, I ask you marketplace waaaaaaloooon. Are you deliberately trying to make sure sellers don’t scale so that in-house companies get all the sales? Is it a part of the big evil corporate conspiracy to keep sellers the aam janta (mango population) occupied with trivial matters so that they can’t see the big picture? What do we do if not question your character??????!!!!!?????? What else can we do *sigh* :p :p

seller inbox

I still try to read some relevant ones and it is my sincere effort everyday to not let this number cross 1400. Wish me luck!

Update/Edit: Forgot to ramble about Product Ads, FlipKart and Snapdeal have pivoted to earning from those only judging from the amount of emails we the sellers are getting, the entire 2300 crore loss posted by FlipKart today will be recovered from PLAs it seems.

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Articles @ IndianOnlineSeller.com Part II

NO, I have not become a full time writer with IOS, not yet atleast.

Long time since I have updated the blog, girls at IndianOnlineSeller.com have kept me busy writing stuff for them :p

Topics I have given my inputs on recently:
 

Account Suspensions on Online Marketplaces – the Right & the Wrong

http://indianonlineseller.com/2016/06/account-suspensions-on-online-marketplaces-the-right-the-wrong/
 

Ill-defined Paytm SEED program, ineffective Seller Support causing trouble for online sellers?

http://indianonlineseller.com/2016/07/paytm-seed-program-has-overlooked-issues-ineffective-seller-support-the-reason-why/

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Articles @ IndianOnlineSeller.com

 [Seller Interview] Online seller Sugam feels Account suspension is necessary. Here’s why

http://indianonlineseller.com/2016/03/seller-interview-online-seller-sugam-feels-account-suspension-is-necessary-heres-why/

 

[Seller Speak] Selling on marketplaces is not just listing & waiting for orders!

http://indianonlineseller.com/2016/04/seller-speak-selling-on-marketplaces-is-not-just-listing-waiting-for-orders/

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“Itne khafa khafa kyun ho?”, Unicommerce (Snapdeal) to Paytm | Airing Dirty Laundry in Public | The Rise & Fall of Unicommerce

Edit: 21st April 2016: Paytm actually sues Snapdeal for stealing data through Unicommerce.

http://trak.in/tags/business/2016/04/21/snapdeal-unicommerce-stole-business-data-paytm/

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/Snapdeal-co-stole-biz-data-Paytm/articleshow/51918360.cms

_______________________________________________________________________

Original Post 26th March, 2016

First let’s start by looking at this hate mail Paytm has been sending all its sellers (click to enlarge and read)

paytm

Now let’s start the story of how these two kids ended up fighting like heathens 😀 :p

So, I am assuming everybody knows what Unicommerce is, but still I’d like to tell given that many would not know, its the swiss knife you need to sell online. Now being serious its a multi-channel inventory management and order processing tool. Online sellers need it to manage their inventory efficiently and to scale while selling on multiple marketplaces.

Simply put,

without such a software

it would be a nightmare.

(no it was not intended to be a poem).

So, why is this Paytm kid sending such mails and bad mouthing such a good kid? It makes no sense! It made no sense to me either (because as I said earlier without a tool like this its near impossible to do multi-channel selling), so I got very curious about why is this happening, what could be their problem because its adding immense value by enabling business on their platform by enabling sellers to sell more or simply be present. Then I thought, they have been sending these mails from months but integration of Unicommerce and Paytm is working properly, we are processing Paytm orders using Unicommerce everyday and all is good.

Why not simply stop API access to Unicommerce and put an end to it instead of using such tactics and scaring sellers (scared because they will stop all pending payment is what the mail means).

The answer is simple, because Unicommerce has leverage of approx. 5000 sellers on its platform (information from a credible source). If Paytm shuts down their Merchant API to Unicommerce and we the sellers cannot process orders and manage inventory for Paytm from the same, issues will increase rather than decrease and at least I as a seller will have to SHUT DOWN my Paytm store because as a channel which gives me about 10% of my overall sales, it will stop making sense for me to maintain a presence on it, I am sure many other sellers will agree to this.

So again, why the mail, I was given a very vague answer that the integration breaks and sync does not happen sometimes and sellers process orders in Unicommerce but they don’t get processed in Paytm panel so these orders end up getting cancelled and merchants are charged a penalty which they protest and Paytm had to reimburse many such sellers because of the same.

It again makes no sense, as when Paytm pushes shipping slips to Unicommerce, at both places orders are marked Ready to Ship and only when Paytm will provide Manifest we will get it in Unicommerce and orders will be marked Manifest Requested. If we have got the Paytm manifest using Unicommerce there is no way these orders are left in Ready to Ship status @Paytm.

SO ANYWAY, point being even if there is such an issue, shouldn’t the tech teams resolve it amicably internally instead of escalating it to this level? OR If the Unicommerce set of sellers is too small for Paytm and they can take the hit of losing them, so why don’t they? Do this or that, what is the point of sending such mails?

I think the issue here is deeper, maybe I am being a conspiracy theorist but it makes sense to me like conspiracies make sense to well, conspiracy theorists. I think the issue is DATA. So when a seller connects all these marketplace accounts to Unicommerce, and use it for order management, Unicommerce (Acquired by Snapdeal  recently) ends up getting data of your customers, the pin codes orders are coming from, the items that are best selling etc. etc. Its the ULTIMATE business intelligence tool for Snapdeal to get all this data from competing marketplaces. How well they use it is a different story. Am sure legal loopholes can be found in all of the litigation for Snapdeal to be able to use this data as Business Intelligence. So I think Paytm has problems with Snapdeal getting all this data. Though I would not be surprised if they are not thinking on this line, and the actual issue is what I was told. LOL.

Initially I also thought Snapdeal acquired it because they were using it to manage their SD+ warehouses and vendor management etc. So, they would have wanted custom functionalities to be able to do all that more efficiently so they must have thought, why spend building from scratch, we have so much investor money lets buy this platform and make it in-house. Like, ab to ghar ki hi baat hai.

But gradually I understood the DATA part but what makes me doubt that there was any DATA intention is that Snapdeal has almost killed the product, they are not actively marketing it is a fact, I think they have killed its growth and the product itself.

The Rise & Fall of Unicommerce

Unicommerce is a beautiful piece of software, fully functional and I have always been in awe of it because I have a fair idea of technology behind it and I know HOW HARD it would have been to build this platform given the sheer number of integrations that they have and HOW HARD it would be to keep it running with SO MANY dependencies, breakages are fixed at lightning speed. Salute to founders and makers. IT WAS an Amazing product with an Amazing team. They  have managed to build it in an environment, where first question when you ask for any API is, “Kyun chahiye, kya karoge?”, with what emotion should they be answered ki, “Aapka business enable karenge”.

My testimonial to Unicommerce is that without you guys I would not have been able to scale my online selling business and all you marketplaces would not have been getting lakhs in fees that you deduct from my payments every single week, sometimes even twice in a week :p

And the best part, there is virtually no competition, there are other players but some have less integrations, others’ pricing is unsubscribable and overall every other product lacks attention to detail and the QUALITY and ease of use that Unicommerce has. I took some demos but in comparison every other thing fails. It could have been the star of Indian e-commerce with a ton of leverage but founders must have had their reasons of selling to Snapdeal.

I don’t know if its a co-incidence that there have been hardly any major updates, I have stopped seeing any activity in terms of marketing, and the Support has gone down to the sewer from stellar level since its acquisition by Snapdeal. It can also be a side-effect of growing too much too fast but I highly doubt that. Its still not too late, it can be saved and used.

So I request Snapdeal to please understand that with great power comes great responsibility, you have kryptonite in your hands, use it. And I request Paytm to please let the sellers sell on their platform and help & support them grow, also, co-operate with Unicommerce/Snapdeal till another player worthy of being Unicommerce comes up.

Thanks & Regards :p

 

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Six Degrees of Separation and Separatism: Marketplace vs. Sellers | What Separates marketplaces from each other?

Are all marketplaces the same?

By definition, yes they are all the same in the sense that they do not hold inventory and are only facilitators of the e-commerce transaction between the buyer and the seller.

But are they, same?

By operations, no they are not even close to same. Each marketplace has its own model of operations which makes them quite different from each other.

Before we venture deeper into this thorny territory, we need to understand what does this ‘model’ mean. By model I mean how a marketplace manages its sellers inventory, logistics, discounts & returns etc. This includes all components of marketplace and seller interaction.

To be more clear, few examples of control would be:

  • Ebay, Amazon, Shopclues encourage buyer seller interaction while Paytm, Snapdeal, Flipkart do not.
  • EB, SC, AM give greater catalog control to sellers and also about choosing modes of fulfillment (like Dropship, Self-ship, FBA etc.) while others mostly enforce the same.
  • Only Amazon allows control of Refunds.
  • Ebay, Amazon, Shopclues also allow way more control on Catalog than others.

Some marketplaces are more open while some are quite closed, some work on hybrid model some are purebreds. This degree of openness or alternatively the degree of control a marketplace wants to exert on its seller’s becomes their differentiating factor. I believe this degree governs their evolution and even some part of their audience or buyers eventually.

Major Indian Marketplaces on Line of Control (0 being least controlled and 10 being most)

So, top six marketplaces in this market are separated by Six Degrees, hence the title. Everybody exerts a different degree of control on their sellers.

On extremes you can see that 0 level of control results into OLX or classifieds model more or less and 10 results into own website to sell online or what I have previously called Stand-alone where the seller has full control. In a way zero control is also full control, its like any number divided by 0 is infinity, so lets put a stop to this right here.

As you can see towards left more open marketplaces are eBay, Shopclues and Amazon while Snapdeal, Paytm and Flipkart are more towards the right or larger control. So immediately conclusion comes to mind that greater the control bigger the marketplace.

Seems like it, but for how long? What is the cost of this control? Another direct co-relation that can be seen from this LoC is amount of losses they are making. Though control would not be the only factor towards that loss, but I can safely say that its a major one.

Marketplaces are defending accumulation of losses by arguments like we are building the market etc. and they are right to an extent but again at What Cost?

So when all marketplaces are accumulating losses who the hell is profiting? The Seller.

So why don’t marketplaces become sellers? They want to but:

1. FDI in multi-brand retail is not allowed.

2. It is not possible to hold so much inventory by one company by which they can do equivalent GMV that they sell right now by the way of thousands of sellers. They have indirectly created “their own” sellers like FKs WS Retail and Amazons Cloudtail but again the more obvious reason is to make available more products on their platform at cheaper prices by buying in bulk and directly from brands by investing 100s of crores of capital which a seller generally cannot do and that stuff too they sell at losses.

So why don’t Amazon or eBay or Shopclues want to control their sellers? It can be understood by working our way backwards, and assuming a possibility that because marketplaces on the right are investing the most in promotions, discounts and advertising therefore, their natural instinct is to have more control on sellers to protect their investments and minimize the losses by trying to sell most possible which they cannot do if seller has more control.

There are a lot of smaller things like these which defines the overall degree of control. I feel that middle or hybrid is the best way to go forward, closest to which are Amazon & Paytm (but their marketplace product is very immature still). While the ones on the right are busy investing or burning in deals and discounts and advertising, the ones on the left and specifically Amazon is busy investing in Infrastructure (It’s all relative).

eBay is happy as is, it has defined audience, it has defined kind of sellers, it has left them on a platform with well defined policies for all matters and whatever revenue it must have made before the war started, it invested in Snapdeal to be a part of the “modern marketplace ecosystem” as well. Shopclues is big in Tier 2 and 3 cities and its catalog has mostly unorganized and unbranded stuff like you find in local market and hence “Ye Mall nahi hai Market hai”.

Though FlipKart has seen most success with controlled model but that was when 80-90% sales were done by their own arm WS retail, once due to law they started adding more sellers, the controlled environment worked but I doubt it will work in long run against Amazon’s less controlled model, towards profitability.

The more you try to control seller’s business, the more operational bottlenecks there will be. Marketplaces should mind their business rather than the seller’s. Due to these inefficiencies and forced operations lot of sellers make losses and ultimately withdraw from the marketplace because a seller has NO INCENTIVE to sell at a loss except in one exceptional case i.e. to rank the listing or to jack number of orders and lower defect rate. A seller is not getting any advantage of the assets being created i.e. brand & buyer, that is the asset marketplace is creating for themselves by operating at a loss.

This is where separatism comes in. Wikipedia says, Separatism is the advocacy of a state of cultural, ethnic, tribal, religious, racial, governmental or gender separation from the larger group. While it often refers to full political secession, separatist groups may seek nothing more than greater autonomy.

When a seller withdraws from marketplace and opens their own website, they desire autonomy or greater control which in this case becomes 100%, they want better policies so that they can create a sustainable profitable trading business nothing more. After opening own site or trying to do so is where the seller understands, cost of running own website, technological challenges, marketing costs, and overall a marketplaces predicament but still they are happier selling from own websites than fighting over useless things from controlled marketplaces who sometimes go against their own policies or the policies just fall head first on themselves. Basically, they implode.

The sellers end up wanting a separate site because they feel that if they are selling so much on the marketplace with such thin margins and even end up making losses sometimes they can maybe increase profitability by building own website and selling as much or even more and add an extra sales channel, and create assets as well, but as separatism goes, its not so easy. Some are able to survive and operate and scale own stores but mostly end up shutting them down (they become a failed state after separating :p)

To Marketplaces: Keep your Sellers happy, they will keep your Buyers happy.

Thoughts?

P.S. An excellent article by IOS http://indianonlineseller.com/2016/02/marketplace-or-inventory-led-which-ecommerce-model-works-best/

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Psst. Psst. Investors & Sellers, till when will you be paying for our COD orders & lifestyle?

If you thought all the investment being pumped into the Indian e-commerce industry right now, is going towards discounts, then you could not be more wrong. Discounts are just a small part of it. Some would say “we are investing in building infrastructure” to which I say “ok, sure, I believe you”.

A major chunk of this leftover investment or “infrastructure” investment is going towards two heads:

  1. Salaries
  2. Logistics

Overpaying people is not creating infrastructure, it is spoiling the market for new startups like mine :p Counter argument would be, its a barrier to entry and  we are a good company our people are talented, they deserve it. Am sure they are (talented) they do (deserve it). But when you say all of them deserve double of what they should be earning, I believe you, totally.

In truth, it not only upsets the market balances, when the funds run out, will you be offering everyone a salary cut to stay afloat? How many will stick? Who will pay them equivalent even if they want to switch. Overpaying hampers personal growth of true talent. What is left to strive for, for them? When you start at the top, you can only go down.

Coming to logistics, all COD orders are funded by these angels on earth called Investors. I can 100% agree that some component of cost of COD that marketplaces bear is built into the logistics cost that is charged to the item seller. BUT, keeping in mind the return rates of COD orders and amount of bogus & “accidental” COD orders, it cannot even be a break-even proposition. As mentioned earlier courier companies charge Rs. 30-60/- for as a COD service charge per shipment, assuming marketplaces give them humugus volumes, I doubt any carrier would give them this service for free.

Though Amazon is one marketplace I have seen actively trying to prevent duplicate orders by giving buyers a message, but when a buyer still places order like this (screenshot below), what are they to do. As a seller, once the order is in, we HAVE to fulfill it, no matter what, we cannot cancel it and we WILL be charged the logistics cost even though we know these duplicate COD orders WILL return. But only option we have is pre-fulfilment cancellation which attracts penalties, monetary and rating both which may ultimately lead to suspended store. So, I prefer to get these sent and bear it as a cost of business.

am1 am2

This is only one side of the story. Every marketplace has a different way of doing this. So, I can safely derive that all this money is coming from BOTH sellers & investors. For one, they just cook numbers for the other they just enforce numbers. I will also cover how sellers are FORCED to use marketplace service and pay nonsensical charges. And the only function of seller support is to create a wall between company and sellers by giving incredibly dumb responses excluding Amazon’s world class seller support.

So, as per popular opinion, I don’t think any bubble is going to burst but market is due for ‘correction’ and normalization.

Thoughts? Questions?

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Online wala Joke

Me Endorsing Online Shopping

Society Uncle: Beta, online shopping karte ho?

Me: Ji uncle, sab online hi mangaata hun.

Uncle: Samaan nahi aaya toh?

Me: Koi baat nahi uncle #PaisaNahiMarega

 

Me Endorsing Online Selling

Society Uncle: Beta, ye online selling wagera ajkal boht chal raha hai, soch raha hun try kiya jaye.

Me: Rehne do uncle #PaisaMarSaktaHai

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Story of the humble 1 Rupee Coin: Cash on Delivery

COD Order Value: Rs. 199/-

Conversation with delivery boy:

Me: “Ek rupiya nahi hai to wapas le jao”

Him: “Ok, Sir”

*delivery boy leaves*

We ignore the paisa value of orders, payments, bills and everything else, but ever wondered where all that paisa goes?

Story of the humble 1 Rupee Coin is not new to us, we have been accepting toffees and whatnot instead of the ‘change’ at kirana shops, at the panwadis and virtually everywhere else. Paytm and all other e-wallets are supposedly driven by this fact that their product solves this problem among others, at least they say so in their advertisements. Satyavachan. Agreed. But the problem here is not that we are willing to accept the toffee or let go of the unloved 1 Rupee Coin, the issues here are service and question of liability (I love this word).

Delivering Cash on Delivery orders, is a service you are providing as a carrier and somebody is paying for that service, directly the seller and indirectly us and in most cases the investors who have invested in marketplaces :p

So are we as a customer liable to pay 199 change to be able to receive our order? To emphasize on the gravity of the situation it comprises of these denominations 1×100+1×50+4×10+1×5+2×2 so thats 6 notes and 3 coins, and this is best case scenario given that the customer has all these denominations.

Can someone answer what can solve this problem?

Absolutely correct, the humble one rupee coin.

I will accept that the carrier (courier company) has no legal liability to provide me the customer with change, and I can also very easily let it go. BUT #beingbaniya, “Mujhe to ek rupiya chahiye”. What now? Whose loss?

Let’s do some maths: Rs. 50 product cost + Rs. 20 marketplace charge/payment gateway/other charge + Rs. 30 delivery charge *and brace yourself* Rs. 50 COD charge (yes that’s what most carriers charge for a COD order, Rs. 30 on the lower side), here I am giving seller the luxury of 25% margin which is not actually the case, margins on selling goods online are generally much lesser (depending on category).

Now, if I refuse to accept this order, there is also a Return to Origin/Seller charge involved and COD charge will still be charged. Paying Rs. 30-60 COD charge kills the seller, its simply not feasible, which is why marketplaces are footing this bill for now. Like, you have started seeing delivery charges, you will also start seeing COD charges sooner than later as funds dry up and for a sustainable tomorrow.

Customer loses, seller loses, marketplace loses, carrier wins! Ding Ding Ding.

So, calling all online shoppers to join the revolution, place COD orders and refuse to accept them if change is not provided, if enough of us can do this, and marketplaces see a sharp rise in COD returns (which is already very high at almost 20-30% of COD orders), they might force carriers to force delivery personnel to carry change and make sure no order returns due to this. Let’s take this pledge to empower the Re. 1 coin :p

But on a serious note, let’s assume everyday 10,00,000 orders are placed online and roughly 40% are COD then we are collectively & effectively letting go of Rs. 4,00,000 per day which sums up to be 14 crore 60 lakhs per year. Where does all this money go? To the delivery boys. I have nothing against them earning Rs. 1000/- a month more than their salary given that they get no holiday whatsoever. Amazon Transport Service was operational on 26th January, Imagine.

And this is just the case when order value is, 1 rupee less than nearest 0 figure. What if order value is Rs. 191/- you don’t have a 1 rupee coin and delivery person will obviously never admit he has Rs. 9 change. Now, you can make all permutation and combinations.

Let your imaginations run wild 😀

 

 

 

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Hello world! Introductory Ramble.

Hello World, again! I couldn’t think how else to start. And I had to google the spelling of introductory (blame mobile language) for the title. Firstly, let’s talk about the elephant on the page, I know some of you may find the domain to be varying degrees of lame but it looks pretty cool to me, obviously :p

Most of you will read this post in future after one or two future posts that you have already read by this point wouldn’t have wasted your time completely. I would take comments on this post or future posts as a hint to continue writing.

Disclaimer: You may find some attempts at humor distasteful but please bear with me. You may also find some nested sentences (sentence within a sentence) so you may face serious continuity problems while reading the posts if you do not concentrate. Also, I am not an activist/fundamentalist as some posts may indicate, they are solely based on ‘thought experiments’ and following logic.

What I do: I am a techie at heart in YouStory’s words, webmaster since class 10, never could learn coding or made an effort to, but now I would like to lobby to make it a part of school curriculum, instead of a foreign language like German or French , a practice which is rampant in schools today. (This is what is rambling in case you are wondering, in these many lines I should have finished What I do)

So, What I do: In college I pretty much did nothing, just what everybody does, even less so. In 6th semester (early 2012) I started my first proper venture with my brother, GoPaisa.com which is now, I can safely say, India’s one of the biggest Cashback & Coupons website. Two and half years after we started which is by the time we had built a responsible and excellent team, I took my first trip out of Delhi so I do not believe in work life balance, work is life, life is work for a start-up Co-Founder is my philosophy, other one is good too but it just takes more time to get me from A to B. Since, I have been involved with establishing at least 2 other start-ups and working on 2 more.

I am feeling guilty of rambling too much as I write each word now, so more about what I do can be covered in future posts, also you can simply find me on LinkedIn, don’t forget to connect.

And with this blog I will attempt to explore & cover following areas:

  • Little bit of my story to better explain what I have drawn from those experiences.
  • Make easier for you, the challenges I have faced setting up my start-ups.
  • Suggest things to faceless corporations (write good & bad reviews as per experience) in Indian Internet space or sometimes other spaces that may or may not help them but will surely help majority of customers (especially me) which will ultimately help the corps.
  • Share tech and operational knowledge, about seller panels of marketplaces and various other technologies (some things you can google but will not find even with your ninja like searching skills, because they don’t exist), like things you must have already attempted to ask people associated with that co. 1-2million times, but they refused to understand what you want.
  • Point out operational inefficiencies and challenges surrounding e-industry in India, that need to be solved.
  • Basically, this blog is mostly about Feedback and venting “how I would have could have done it”. Also, life philosophies and some other stuff.

Cheers.

 

 

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