Online retail is poised for a hyper jump into rural India. To go one up on archrival Flipkart, Snapdeal — one of the country’s largest e-tailers — plans to tap 50 lakh low-income households in slums and villages across the country. These include places such as Dharavi (Mumbai), which is Asia’s largest slum, Govindpuri, one of the biggest slums in Delhi, and villages in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana, among many others.
Snapdeal will launch around 5,000 e-commerce kiosks across 65 cities and 70,000 rural areas by the end of next year with the help of FINO PayTech, an Indian financial inclusion solutions company. These e-commerce centers will be manned by village-level entrepreneurs, have personal computers and tablets, and also serve as collection and delivery points of packages since most people living in these areas usually have no permanent addresses. Additionally, they will help consumers with zero internet connectivity to shop online.
"I am going into this thinking that we will be able to reach 5-10 crore new consumers in the next three years," Kunal Bahl, co-founder and CEO of Snapdeal, told TOI. At present, Snapdeal has around 3 crore registered users.
Interestingly, initial pilot runs by these kiosks have revealed that the average ticket size of purchases by rural consumers is not too far behind that of urban consumers. "It is Rs 1,400 compared to Rs 2,000 from urban areas," said Bahl.
Snapdeal will be offering a special assortment of utility-cum-aspirational products, such as speakers, juicers, solar lanterns, diner sets, cameras and mobile phones. These products will be curated on an exclusive page that will require login by a FINO agent, who would place an order, collect payment, receive and deliver to people who have no permanent address.
"This channel has great potential. For instance, we call people from Dharavi the HNIs (high net worth individual) of slums," said Rishi Gupta, executive director and COO of FINO PayTech.