The Ecommerce War Zone In India To Have A New Army: Google


Expanding from just a search engine to be a job guide to taking over our music playlist to becoming a voice assistant etc. Google has it all. Already being an integral part of our lives, it seems Google’s ambitions are just not done yet. As the global Internet giant now wants to be the next shopping destination for India.

Yes, you heard it right. According to recent reports, Google is now planning to launch ecommerce business in India later this year and the launch may coincide with Diwali. However, a Google executive has termed these reports as mere “speculation”.

The development comes at the time when Google has already invested $550 Mn in Chinese ecommerce firm JD.com. The two companies said in a statement that the deal is part of a strategic partnership to jointly develop markets. Earlier, Walmart and JD.com had also entered a strategic partnership.

In regards to its India foray, it has been reported that Caesar Sengupta, who leads product management at Google’s global headquarters, is likely to test the ecommerce launch in India before taking this new business to other emerging markets. If all goes well and as per schedule, India will be the first country to experience Google’s ecommerce foray.

The company is expected to get a huge benefit of its subscriber base of over 18 Mn (for Gmail) and several other features including supporting vernacular content – which will further help it gain insight into the purchasing power and choices of millions of online consumers.

The news also comes just two months after it was reported that the global search giant was planning to invest $1-2 Bn in Flipkart via Walmart, which recently acquired 77% stake in the homegrown ecommerce unicorn for $16 Bn. While the investment in Flipkart is still under consideration, the Google’s move into ecommerce is not at all surprising.

Google’s first attempt in Indian ecommerce can be traced back to its Great Online Shopping Festival (GOSF) – an online shopping event launched by Google India in December 2012 in collaboration with a number of Indian online shopping platforms.

GOSF was portrayed as India’s answer to the hugely popular ‘Cyber Monday’ sales in the US. However, in November 2015, the company discontinued it due to growing popularity of ecommerce companies like Flipkart and Amazon India. GOSF also set the foundation for several online sale events hosted by players like Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Myntra among others.

Google: Setting Up Base To Enter The Indian Ecommerce War

Ecommerce is not a new space for Google. It has been in works for the past one year under the wraps, and several initiatives of Google in India support its ecommerce ambitions in the country.

For instance, earlier it has been associated with some 2,000 workshops helping the company to identify sellers on its ecommerce platform.

The company has also partnered with business chambers for digital programmes. Further, many pilots are being scaled up to meet the ecommerce targets. At the same time, more than 15K sellers have been identified for its ecommerce platform.

Further, it is being suggested that Google Tez was launched with the idea of populating the seller database.

For rural India, the company has been strengthening Internet through its ‘Saathi’ initiative. Through 48,000 Saathi’s across rural India, the company wants to offer assisted shopping until the masses are comfortable with the process.

Further, with its paid advertisement listing service Google Shopping, the company plans to make it more of an omnichannel experience to encourage brick and mortar retailers to list with Google.

To be noted, in the US, Google Shopping enables offline retailers to see what is in their stores for free as well as a mark on Maps. The company plans to launch this feature along with several others to increase the number of sellers on its platform.

The IBEF expects the Indian ecommerce to reach $200 Bn by 2026 while Indian government’s Economic Survey 2018 revealed that India’s ecommerce market reached $33 Bn registering a 19.1% growth in 2016-2017.

In a deeply competitive Indian ecommerce market, entry of Google, which apparently has a huge user base in India already is bound to cause a huge challenge for existing players like Amazon India and Flipkart on one side. However, the plan to go solo is a huge bet and an interesting watch on the Google’s side. On the other, it will be worth noting what strategies existing players bring to the table to tackle the competition from the Internet giant.

[The development was reported by Business Standard.]

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