Shilparanipeta

IKEA
GMW will be IKEA’s supplier for its smaller vehicle segment for all its upcoming stores across India.
  • Wednesday, August 15, 2018 - 07:52

Swedish furniture maker IKEA, which launched its first India store in Hyderabad last week is using electric vehicles as its delivery fleet. And for the smell vehicle segment of its delivery fleet, Hyderabad-based Gayam Motor Works, which makes electric vehicles, will supply its Smart Autos to IKEA.

IKEA has procured the smart autos through Gati, which is its logistics partner in Hyderabad. For IKEA, this is part of its global compliance code of sustainability.

After piloting with various electric vehicle makers across the country, IKEA is working with Gayam through Gati.

Gayam Motor Works (GMW), founded in 2012 by brothers Rahul and Raja Gayam, makes electric bikes and smart autos powered by lithium Ion batteries. These Smart Autos are also the first electric autos in the world to be made with a battery swapping system. This ensures that as against spending several hours charging the vehicle, it can be easily swapped with another fully charged Li-Ion battery. As against diesel rickshaws which have a running cost of Rs 3.5/km, the Smart Auto has a running cost of only Rs 0.50/km.

While Gayam declined to share how many e-rickshaws it will be manufacturing and supplying to IKEA, it will be IKEA’s supplier for its smaller vehicle segment for all its upcoming stores across India as well.

Gayam Motors, which is based out of T-Hub, counts Uber, BigBasket, Flipkart, Grofers, Gati, Chittoor Police, GVMC, Govt of AP and Telangana and Central American Police, ChaiGuru among its customers.

It has manufactured and supplied pollution-free electric auto-rickshaws for waste disposal with an advanced hydraulic disposal system to the AP government.

According to Gayam, IKEA also plans on setting up charging and battery swapping infrastructure in its warehouses and wherever necessary so that not just its fleet, but other users of electric vehicles can benefit as well.

“This is a huge validation for us. IKEA has started adopting electric vehicles all across the world and their sustainability teams are well informed. It is a huge encouragement for startups like us. We also hope that this will set an example for other corporates for adoption. If IKEA is adopting electric vehicles, then others should also start looking at this,” says Harsha Bavirisetty, COO, Gayam Motor Works.

GMW also developed electric bikes called LIMITLESS e-bikes. What’s different about the bikes is that they come with different levels of pedal assistance to give you a push. When you start pedalling, the motor kicks in and supplies about 80% of the energy.

T-Hub
Jay Krishnan told TNM that he quit T-Hub due to personal reasons.
  • Monday, August 13, 2018 - 14:38
Jay Krishnan (L) and Srinivas Kollipara (R)

Telangana’s startup incubator T-Hub CEO Jay Krishnan has resigned from his position following a board meeting. As T-Hub scouts for its next CEO, the board has appointed Srinivas Kollipara as interim CEO from September 15, 2018. Srinivas is currently the COO of T-Hub. 

“We thank Jay for his outstanding contributions during his tenure to bring T-Hub to great heights of success. We wish him the best in his future endeavours. To sustain the great work on startup incubation, corporate innovation and international market access programs, and to lead T-Hub into the next phase of growth, the Board has commissioned a search firm to look for the next CEO of T-Hub,” the Board said in a statement. 

Jay will work as an advisor to assist the new CEO during the transition. He is expected to join an investment firm in India, and will continue to provide thrust to the start-up ecosystem in his new role.

Jay Krishnan told TNM that he quit T-Hub due to personal reasons.

“In the interim, Srinivas Kollipara, who was part of the founding team, will take over as CEO along with the able senior management and drive business as usual. We are extremely excited about the opportunities that lie ahead of us with T-Hub and are fully committed to entering the next phase of innovation and growth, taking Telangana to new heights,” the board added. 

A serial entrepreneur, Jay Krishnan has been the CEO of T-Hub since it was founded three years ago. 

“I am proud to be associated with T-Hub for the last three years. Under my leadership, and with support and guidance from the Board, T-Hub has delivered tremendous value to entrepreneurs, investors and corporates by building a world-class ecosystem. T-Hub has truly positioned Hyderabad as a nerve centre for India’s start-up journey,” Jay Krishnan said. 

On taking over as interim CEO, Srinivas Kollipara said, “My mission is to continue the great work we’ve been doing at T-Hub and ensure growth. The team and I are fully committed to continuing to scale T-Hub and continuing to position Telangana as integral to India’s startup vision.”

T Hub is an incubator, but also a unique public-private partnership between the government of Telangana, IIIT-Hyderabad, ISB and NALSAR, and other private sector players.

In July 2015, Jay Krishnan was hired as the CEO and he moved to Hyderabad. He worked as the 'construction manager' for their landmark structure until the official launch of T-Hub in November 2015.

Fund Raising
Kenyt wants to use the funds acquired to foray into new verticals and expand to international markets.
  • Friday, August 10, 2018 - 12:39

AI-powered customer engagement platform startup Kenyt Technologies has raised seed funding of $250,000 from Rajasthan Angels Network and SucSeed Venture partners.

Founded by Kanwaljeet Singla and Peeyush Kulshrestha last year, Kenyt helps real estate companies increase sales through its customer engagement platform powered by artificial intelligence that works like a chat bot.

It has developed an AI-powered Domain Expert (AiDE) to try and engage potential customers on the developer’s website and social media. This virtual sales assistant tries to understand customer’s requirements, answers their queries, showcases the USPs of the project and eventually gets their contact details.

Based out of Hyderabad’s T-Hub, Kenyt claims to have added 45 customers in the last three months and aims to reach 250 customers by next year. It counts reputed builders such as Shobha builders, Wadhwa Group, Pheonix Group, Manbhum, Botanica developers as its clients.

Kenyt wants to use the funds acquired to enter two international markets. While its next stop will be Singapore, it will next launch either in UK or US.

“We will also use funds to expand into any two new verticals. We are currently looking at the hotel, shopping and hospital space. We are also hiring across segments. Both Rajasthan Angels and SucSeed are reputed investors and will be bringing a lot of experience on board. SucSeed has good experience in marketing, finance and product development and we will be able to take their guidance for the same,” Kanwaljeet said.

Both investors will be joining the board of Kenyt.

“The ease of implementation of KENYT, the ease with which they remember the context in which the chat is happening and ability to resolve ambiguity by clearly understanding what the user wants sets KENYT apart. Real Estate sector has shown great interest in them so far and now other sectors are targeted as well. We feel KENYT product is comparable with dialogflow, Watson and couple of others, which Indian companies are using but find them on the expensive side,” said Vikrant Varshney, Managing Partner, SucSEED Venture Partners.

“One of the investor also became customer during the deal process. It took about 2 weeks of effort from both ends to implement their chat bots in the edtech space and it was a new use case, with fantastic results,” Vikrant adds.

Also read: PhonePe raises fresh funding of Rs 452 crore from Flipkart Payments

Startups
Growth-stage startups of T-Hub’s Lab32 program and renowned corporates will be recruiting across positions.
  • Thursday, August 09, 2018 - 16:22

Giving ex-entrepreneurs another chance at employment, Hyderabad-based global startup catalyst T-Hub will be hosting a recruitment drive for ex-entrepreneurs to re-join the workforce and secure regular employment.

Growth-stage startups of T-Hub’s Lab32 program and renowned corporates will interview the ex-entrepreneurs to offer them permanent jobs upon selection.

From Tech leads and engineers to Android, Java developers, data scientists and even business development managers, there are a host of openings across companies.

It is estimated that 90 percent of start-ups fail due to a lack of mentorship, funding, and innovation. T-Hub, which aims to grow and thrive the startup ecosystem, through the recruitment drive will provide career avenues to entrepreneurs who could not make it big and also enable its startups to scale faster.

 “One of the charms of being a startup founder is falling and picking up the pieces again. In this context, India doesn't celebrate 'failed entrepreneurs' enough. As the leader of an organization, any day, I'd lean towards a risk- taking failed entrepreneur over a seasoned professional, given all other skills being the same. With this culture as context, job opportunities for ex-entrepreneurs will augur well not only for the candidates but will also help our corporate partners and startups to find people with a heady mix of technical and entrepreneurial skills,” Jay Krishnan, CEO of T-Hub said in a statement.

Open to people across the country, one can apply starting from August 10 until August 25 and the final interviews will be held on September 1 at T-Hub.

 “Those who have dabbled as an entrepreneur are aware of the concerns of a startup, and the founders of Lab32 startups will give them the opportunity to use their experiences and start afresh. While the corporates benefit from acquiring talent that brings knowledge, passion, and a self-driven attitude. We wish to drive similar programs on a regular basis, so the spirit of entrepreneurship is pursued more assertively,” Jay added.

Also read: In its 3rd year in B’luru, Aon-CRY soccer event seeks to help underprivileged kids

Business
Of course, a lot of this is cheap plastic, likely to be disposed after a few uses - and, as with all plastic, poses problems for both health as well as the environment.
  • Thursday, August 09, 2018 - 16:05

Swedish home-décor giant IKEA has opened its first ever store in India in a sprawling area of 4 lakh square feet in the heart of Hyderabad’s Hi-tech city. From utensils, potted plants, chandeliers to beds, cupboards and storage boxes, the IKEA Hyderabad store has a range of 7,500 products, spread across two large floors. IKEA has around 20% of its products that are locally sourced. 

IKEA has been sourcing from India for over 30 years for its global stores. In India, it currently has more than 50 suppliers with 45,000 direct employees and 400,000 people in the extended supply chain. To attract Indians, who are known to be price sensitive, Ikea has begun its India operations with affordable pricing. With the cheapest item priced at Rs 15, IKEA is sure to attract a lot of customers in the coming days. Of course, a lot of this is cheap plastic, likely to be disposed after a few uses - and, as with all plastic, poses problems for both health as well as the environment.

So, before you decide to spend the weekend binge-shopping at the IKEA store, let’s have a quick-look at some of their budget-friendly items that would not pinch a hole in our pockets.

Glass wares

Something that we have always loved to stack up in the show cases of our dining halls, IKEA has a decent collection of glassware products made for the Indian kitchen. From glass sets that are priced as low at Rs 29 to microwave bowls priced at Rs 49, they also have slender wine glasses, tea cups and plates all priced below Rs 99.

Plastic cutlery

With a set of colourful spoons available for just Rs 15 (the lowest priced item in the store), the store has a wide range of plastic cutlery items for its buyers. Egg slicers priced at Rs 69, 10-pack of its iconic sealing clips for 79, dishwasher brushers for as low as Rs 29, a pick of maybe 6 miscellaneous items from this section is sure to add colour to your kitchenware.

Lamps and lighting

The range is moderate, but the designs are sure to blow your mind. IKEA has lamps priced at as low as Rs 99 which includes study table lamps, roof lamps and wall lamps, all under Rs 200.

The second cheapest product available in IKEA is a glass candle holder for just Rs 17.

Potted plants

If you are looking to add some greenery to your otherwise dull room, IKEA has two-sections full of indoor decorative plants, the cheapest one priced at Rs 45. From money plants to bonsais, do not get confused between the plastic plants and the original ones. Also available are ceramic and metallic plant pots that start from Rs 29.

Pillows and cushions

Fluffy cushions are available at a price of Rs 79. Also available are quirky coir door mats -- with ‘welcome’ written in Telugu and Hindi -- rugs, bath towels, table clothes all below Rs 200 in this store.

Shower curtains

Might be a little alien to Indian bathrooms, IKEA has some sober-coloured shower curtains for your bathrooms at a price as low as Rs 69 per piece.

Picture frames and mirrors

To add zest to your walls, the store has tiny picture frames and silver mirrors that start at a price of Rs 59 and Rs 99 respectively.

Soft toys

IKEA has a huge collection of stuffed polar bears, monkeys, pandas, rats and even pigs that can make one go ‘Awww.’ While most of them are expensive, there are a few smaller ones priced at Rs 79 as well.

Lint rollers

A product not easily available in Indian stores, Lint rollers are used to remove dust and tough stains off from clothes and are available for Rs 69 at the IKEA store.

Food

It's not just home décor items, food at IKEA has also been priced at a nominal price. From a plate of Samosa, frozen yogurt, each costing only Rs 10, most items are priced below Rs 100. Hyderabad’s favourite biryani is also available at just Rs 99.

However, these are just some of the cheap products available at IKEA. In total, there are 1000 items priced at below Rs 200.

Aviation
The airline has reportedly told employees it doesn’t have enough funds to operate beyond 60 days, and asked senior employees to consider a pay cut of up to 25%.
  • Friday, August 03, 2018 - 12:12

Jet Airways, which has been struggling on the back of rising fuel prices and increasing competition, is looking at various cost-cutting measures to keep its operations afloat.

As part of its cost-cutting measures, the airline has reportedly asked some of its employees, especially the ones in higher positions to consider a pay cut of up to 25%.

In a statement put out by the company, it said that for desired business efficiencies and to realise higher revenues, it has been implementing several measures to cut costs that include sales and distribution, payroll and maintenance, among others.

It is said to have been meeting employees and pilots over the last two days to negotiate terms. Jet Airways has 16,000 employees and 2,000 pilots.

The airlines has been badly hit due to rising fuel prices, a falling market share amidst intense competition and not having expanded in the last six years. According to a Mint report, Jet fuel price surged 44%, to Rs 69,090 a kilolitre in Delhi on 1 August from Rs 8,110 last year.

Jet Airways registered a loss of Rs 636.45 crore in FY18, while its rivals such as SpiceJet and IndiGo have been doing well, reporting profits.

Economic Times reported on Friday that the company communicated to its employees that it doesn’t have enough funds to operate beyond 60 days.

However, a member of National Aviation Guild (NAV), a union of Jet Airways pilots, says that no such communication was made to them.

“The management had a meeting with all available pilots in Mumbai and Delhi, where they spoke about restricting the company financially and to streamline operations. That was all that was discussed. The pilot body, which been talking to the management, will be called for another meeting soon. But before that, we will have meeting and discuss with members and then talk to the management on what’s the best way forward,” Capt. Parikshit Joshi, a member of NAV, told The News Minute.

Of the 2,000 pilots who work with Jet Airways, 1,135 of them are part of NAV.

Capt. Parikshit said that after discussing with its members, the pilot body will make suggestions that are in favour of the sustainability of the model that Jet Airways operates on, adding that these will be dynamic suggestions as many factors will have to be taken into consideration.

Speaking of pay cuts, while he did not comment on any specific number suggested by the management of the airline, Capt. Parikshit recognized that if there is a restructuring of operations, remuneration restructuring will have to happen as well.

“But the details not yet discussed because pilots not given their opinion yet to the guild and the guild can’t take any decision on their behalf and the management in turn cannot take a decision,” he added.

Jet Airways, in its statement, said that the airline management is in dialogue with stakeholders to enlist their full support and cooperation for realising necessary savings across all parts of the business.

“The airline is committed to create a growth-oriented, sustainable future, and a revitalized guest experience armed with the addition of 225 B737 MAX fuel-efficient aircraft which will be inducted in its fleet over the next decade, and of which, 11 are slated to join within this financial year. The airline refutes and strongly condemns the speculative comments of/from certain vested interests, who are making deliberate attempts to undermine Jet Airways’ transformation efforts,” it added.

Currently, Etihad Airways owns 24% stake in the airline, while its founder Naresh Goyal holds 51%. Naresh is now reportedly looking to raise funds on an immediate basis, which may include him offloading part of his stake.

Also read: Mallya says he didn't file clemency plea in Karnataka HC, ready to settle dues

E-commerce
While the draft policy itself may be a result of the retail lobby’s pressure to regularise e-commerce space, it does very little to that effect, experts say.
  • Wednesday, August 01, 2018 - 11:36
Image source: Tech In Asia via Flickr

The government has unveiled a draft of the e-commerce policy aimed at streamlining the digital economy and specifically the rapidly growing e-commerce sector in India.

From recommending prevention of predatory pricing and deep discounting to allowing a hybrid e-commerce model where 100% Indian-owned companies can own inventory to data localisation and more regulation, the policy seems to promote Indian entities and bring in a level-playing field.

But does the draft address all the important issues plaguing the industry?

Amarjeet Singh, Partner at KPMG, co-leader, e-commerce and startups, believes that the draft policy attempts to do too many things at once. “It’s dealing with FDI, consumer protection and more… trying to cover too many bases, and in that process, giving more instructions to ministries that already deal with these aspects. They are cutting across too many horizontals, which is not practical.”

He also holds the view that in a context where the Indian e-commerce and start up market is dynamic and needs to be encouraged, a policy affecting them should have been broader, and only recommendatory in nature.

While the draft policy itself may be a result of the retail lobby’s pressure to regularise e-commerce space to create a level playing field, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of the Retailers Association of India (RAI) says that the policy does very little to that effect.

“There is no information about how many e-commerce companies are there, how many transactions and of what value are happening there… There is no record of this,” he points out.

FDI in e-commerce

One of the major recommendations made in the draft policy is recognising that several e-commerce companies are violating or circumventing the Press note 3 guidelines.

Press Note 3 regulations state that an e-commerce firm providing a marketplace cannot own inventory and that more than 25% of sales cannot come from a single vendor.

However, the draft policy allows a limited inventory-based B2C model for goods made in India and has also called to create a separate wing in the Directorate of Enforcement to handle grievances related to Press Note 3.

Kumar says that this is not new. Press Note 3 already sought to disallow FDI in B2C e-commerce unless the products were 100% Indian made. “But there was no effort from the government to ensure that this translates into a level playing field,” Kumar adds.

Referring to the single regulator that the policy intends to set up to look into legal fragmentation seen across the various laws governing the e-commerce sector, Kumar says, “This regulator will help only if it is empowered. If it does not have any teeth, then it will only add to the complexity of implementing existing laws on the e-commerce sector.”

The draft policy further states that an inventory-based model will only be allowed if the platform company is controlled by Indian management and foreign equity does not exceed 49%.

K Vaitheeswaran, author of ‘Failing to Succeed’ and founder of India’s first e-commerce company, says that the draft policy addresses the issue of FDI in e-commerce years too late. “Everyone knows that FDI is not allowed in B2C models unless the goods are entirely made in India. However, companies have been circumventing and breaking the law for years together and substantial FDI has already been pumped in,” he points out.

That said, Vaitheeswaran says ideally, FDI in retail should be allowed. “However, as long as the law prohibits it under whatever circumstances, it is wrong. But it has been happening for years,” he says.

Kumar further adds that the government should have allowed 49% foreign equity cap in all retailers, including those selling products online to facilitate a level playing field.

And not just RAI, seller associations such as the All India Online Vendors Association (AIOVA) too have pointed out that their inputs were not sought and prior inputs to e-commerce committee of Niti Aayog were ignored.

"Current issues being faced by sellers are completely left unaddressed. Violations of FDI policy will keep on happening as the government is turning a blind eye. We will not allow a hybrid model of marketplace regardless of ownership structure. Either it has to be 100% marketplace or 100% retailer,” a spokesperson from AIOVA said.

Currently, several e-commerce companies including Flipkart group companies and Amazon own private labels that are sold on the platform. Moreover, startup founders tend to own a very small part of the company, especially with foreign investors including SoftBank, Alibaba, and most recently, Walmart owning substantial stakes in e-commerce companies such as Flipkart and Paytm.

However, Amazon, Flipkart and MakeMyTrip did not respond to queries over how the policy, once implemented, may affect them.

Price influencing

The draft policy recommends imposing restrictions on e-commerce marketplaces to not directly or indirectly influence the price of sale of goods and services. This will also be extended to group companies of the e-commerce marketplace.

“A sunset clause, which defines the maximum duration of differential pricing strategies (such as deep discounts) that are implemented by e-commerce platforms to attract consumers, would be introduced,” the draft document states.

This is being touted as a move that could potentially end deep discounting by e-retailers, something that have been their USP right from the beginning. But Vaitheeswaran says that this might be an impractical move.

“Because at the end of the day, the vendors are giving the discounts, not the platforms. So, does the policy also control vendors? If not, how do they plan to implement this? Further, in retail, there are physical stores which are trackable. The online space is trickier,” he says.

Amarjeet also agrees. “The discounts are only benefitting the customers in terms of affordability. They are not significantly affecting physical stores,” he says dismissing concerns of retailers about not having a level playing field.

“A majority of the market is dominated by physical retailers even now. E-commerce and e-retailers only make about 6% of the market. It’s just that earlier, no one controlled the retailers’ margins. Now they are feeling the pinch, but it is not a do-or-die situation for sure,” he adds.

Startups
It is one of the first startups in India to launch a specialized offering for virtual reality-based video production.
  • Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - 15:11

What if you could learn science experiments in school through VR? Or experience a religious fete without actually being there? For Virtual Raasta, the possibilities are endless.

Betting big on the growing adoption of virtual reality, Hyderabad-based corporate video production house Raasta Studios has launched a new brand ‘Virtual Raasta’ to offer Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality-based video production. It is one of the first startups in India to launch a specialized offering for virtual reality-based production.

Raasta Studios, founded by Sai Kumar and Prem Kumar in 2013 caters to the B2B segment, offering production services to corporates, institutions, agencies, NGOs and government bodies. It now runs three brands – Raasta Studios, Amplify and Virtual Raasta under the parent company Raasta Studios.

The services offered by Raasta Studios include coverage of events, ad films and commercials, explanatory videos of products or services, branding and corporate films, 2D and 3D animation, industrial and training videos, interviews and testimonials, promotional videos and campaigns.

While the five-year-old startup has been running Virtual Raasta for a few months having worked with several clients, it launched it a standalone brand officially as part of the HYSEA Design Summit 2018 in Hyderabad.

“We offer a variety of AR and VR products and services in sectors including simulations, education, heritage, industrial training and maintenance, architecture and real estate, aviation and aerospace industry, medical and pharma industry,” says Prem.

Its offerings include VR simulation, data visualization, medical and pharma training, industrial training, Educational AR/VR, defence training, among other.

Data visualisation is where it presents data in an interactive format instead of having to read through long documents.

“Till now there used to be a lot of data presented in form of reports. Now they can present it in an interesting way and make it more interactive. One doesn’t have to go through 400-odd pages to understand a report,” Prem says.

In healthcare, it is working with institutes such as LV Prasad Institute where it creates a virtual laboratory to help people train and learn without physical lab setup or equipment.

It also has an aerospace and aviation offering where it offers pilot trainings in a virtual reality setting. Aircraft Engine and Equipment Maintenance Engineering Training on design, architecture, maintenance procedures without having a physical setup. Dangerous, hard-to-replicate and expensive situations such as aircraft ditching, fire and emergency landing can also be simulated using VR tools.

For educational institutes, it helps enhance teaching in subjects such as Botany, Zoology, Medicine, Chemistry, Astronomy, Geography, Architecture, Semiconductors, Instrumentation, Industrial, Nursing, Auto Tech, Rural studies and Social works and History.

“Interactive AR can enhance learnings based on study material and textbook content. We also provide immersive and interactive learning opportunities depicting subject visually where lessons can be controlled by teacher/instructor to set pace,” Prem adds.

It also works with large corporates to help live-stream major events in VR format to allow people across the world experience the event first-hand. It has worked with giants such as Reliance Industries where it live streamed the company’s Annual General Meeting held in July. It also created 360-degree videos for corporates.

For example, it created a 360-degree video of the manufacturing units of Laurus Labs during its Initial Public Offering last year. It created a 360-degree video of Hyderabad-based T-Hub for those wanting to know what the incubator looked like.  It has also worked with furniture giant IKEA where it offered consumers a chance to view and experience the IKEA store and its products in a VR setting.

The scope is endless, Prem says.

The company works on a customized costing model where it first understands the requirement, analyses to see whether it would need AR, VR or animation and accordingly offer services. The costing could range anywhere between Rs 5 lakh- 25 lakh based on a company’s requirement.

While the VR scenario in India, especially in terms of hardware hasn’t evolved yet, it imports most of its hardware from Hong Kong or the US. It also helps customers who need to purchase the hardware in sourcing them from the right places.  

The 40+ member team currently has around 18 clients from across the country. Having started operations in Hyderabad, Virtual Raasta now wants to become an India-centric player since its offerings are not geographically-bound.

The bootstrapped startup invested Rs 50 lakh from its parent company Raasta Studios to build the infrastructure. It is now looking to raise funds to grow Virtual Raasta into a large standalone brand.

“Our focus will always remain B2B since there is a huge requirement for such offerings in businesses. We want to go as in-depth as possible in the AR and VR space and come up with more unique offerings along the way,” Prem adds.

Also read: Two T-Hub startups ‘Syntizen’, ‘CarenGrow’ bag HYSEA Software Product Awards

FoodTech
The membership will also offer benefits such as no surge fee and quicker issue resolution through a dedicated customer care team.
  • Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - 15:04

At a time when startups are going big on loyalty programs, food ordering and delivery platform Swiggy has launched its membership program Swiggy SUPER that gives users unlimited free deliveries across all restaurants, irrespective of the distance or time of day.

The membership, which comes as one-month and three-month subscription plans, with the current fee ranging from Rs 99 – Rs 149 for a one-month plan, consumers will need to order for a minimum of Rs 99 to avail the SUPER benefits.

The membership will also offer benefits such as no surge fee and quicker issue resolution through a dedicated customer care team. 

Swiggy SUPER has been rolled out to a limited set of users across seven cities in India and will be launched for all Swiggy users in the coming months.

Swiggy also plans to add more benefits to this membership in the coming months, including exclusive offers from its restaurant and payment partners.

“With a very large restaurant partner network and an industry best delivery time, Swiggy has become an integral part of the food ordering experiences of Indian consumers. SUPER is the result of understanding some of their biggest pain points when it comes to food delivery and making it more convenient, affordable and simple,” said Anuj Rathi, VP of Product at Swiggy.

“In the coming months, we will continue to bring more value through SUPER by adding more benefits and growing the existing offerings on this service,” he added.

This comes after Swiggy launched POP and Scheduled earlier this year.

Swiggy’s rival Zomato too, recently launched several subscription-based programs such as Zomato Gold, which gives users free drinks or meals at restaurants. Zomato also recently launched ‘PiggyBank’ program where every time a customer places an order, 10% of the order value gets deposited in a Piggybank account, which can be used by the customer to partly pay while making the payment for the next order.

Also read: Govt’s draft e-commerce policy: Limits predatory pricing, allows hybrid marketplace

E-commerce
The document states that the pace of digital India needs to be accelerated through a facilitative ecosystem to spur digital innovation within the country.
  • Tuesday, July 31, 2018 - 07:57

After several rounds of discussions with various stakeholders, the government has released a draft of the national e-commerce policy. In its draft, the government recognises that for India to fully benefit from opportunities in the digital space, it is important that policymakers are aware of the underlying challenges and make prudent decisions from the available options.

The document states that the pace of digital India needs to be accelerated through a facilitative ecosystem to spur digital innovation within the country.

“This document seeks to achieve this goal through a multi-pronged approach, including the following: creating a facilitative regulatory environment for leveraging access to data, building better understanding of real and financial flows for future innovation by promoting the use of RuPay, creating a level playing field for foreign and domestic players in the Indian market by addressing some of the challenges confronting domestic players especially start-ups, addressing non-competitive practices and stimulating the participation of micro, small and medium enterprises in the digital economy.”

The draft of the policy addresses predatory pricing by imposing restrictions on e-commerce marketplaces to not directly or indirectly influence the price of sale of goods and services. This will also be extended to group companies of the e-commerce marketplace.

“A sunset clause, which defines the maximum duration of differential pricing strategies (such as deep discounts) that are implemented by e-commerce platforms to attract consumers, would be introduced,” the document states.

The draft policy also allows for a hybrid marketplace model by allowing limited inventory-based B2C model for goods that are 100% made in India.

Data storage

As per the draft policy, all data generated by users in India from various sources including e-commerce platforms, social media, search engines, etc should be stored within the country. This also includes community data collected by IoT devices in the public space.

Competition

After the Walmart-Flipkart deal faced major criticism from trader bodies, the draft policy calls for the Competition Commission of India to consider amending its thresholds and mandatorily examine major mergers and acquisitions, especially those that are touted to cause major disruption.

To ensure there is a level-playing field among domestic players, the draft policy looks to ensure that foreign websites involved in e-commerce transactions from India will also follow the same rules as the domestic companies.

Consumer protection

The draft policy also mandates that e-commerce companies fully disclose to consumers the purpose and use of data collected and the main features of their terms and conditions in a ‘simplified and an easily understandable form’ on their websites.

The government has also called for the establishment of an authority called the ‘Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)’ to act as the nodal agency for intra-government coordination, to provide a platform for e-commerce operators for complaints regarding fraudulent activities and provide a forum for consumers to register unresolved complaints, among others.

Finally, the policy calls for a single legislation to address all aspects of e-commerce to be enacted and a single regulator to be set up to addressing the legal fragmentation seen across the various laws governing the e-commerce sector, viz. the Information Technology Act, 2000, the consumer protection laws, and other relevant legislations/ rules and ensuring uniformity in definition of the various e-commerce players and levels of obligation imposed on them.

The regulator will also look into issues regarding FDI implementation, consumer protection, full disclosure by e-commerce entities of purpose and intent etc., among others.