Catching up with Tony Navin, VP business development, Snapdeal, on Vijay Sales, Profitability and more

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A few days ago, Snapdeal announced their partnership with Vijay Sales, an electronics megastore. Vijay Sales have been in the retail business for 46 years and are a premier name in electronics dealers' community. I spoke to Tony Navin, VP business development at Snapdeal, who shed some light on this recent partnership - "Vijay Sales is quite a large player in the electronics space in India and they come with a large inventory. With their exclusive partnerships with major electronic brands, they will always have an unique inventory to sell and the fact that we're taking care of a significant overhead cost in online presence and fulfilment, the benefits will reflect in the price points."

Tony Navin

Tony believes that Snapdeal's value proposition in it's marketplace model is being understood by more people. He says, "Over the past year or so, we've signed on merchants like Chroma, Shoppers Stop and they've been selling quite actively on Snapdeal, there's a certain level of trust that we've generated among merchants. Everyone wants to sell online, but they don't have the expertise or the bandwidth to do it. By partnering with us, a merchant can reach out to about 10000 towns and the fact that we do fulfilment as well, it brings a merchant a lot of value."

Going forward and on operational profitability

Tony shared that in the coming months, Snapdeal will be looking to expand their assortment categories. He says, "There are so many unexplored categories that can be sold online in India, like industrial hardware, sanitary-ware etc. That will be one of our prime focus areas in the coming months. Also, we're always looking to partner with merchants both online and offline, and you will see our seller base triple in the next quarter."

Tony has been with Snapdeal since the time they launched. When asked if the company ever had doubts on the marketplace model, he says, "I think when we pivoted from the coupon deals model to the marketplace model, we were seeing that all the companies that were getting funded were running an inventory based model. Even a part of our offering back then used to be inventory based. But we realised that it would be very difficult to scale such a model and it would need a lot of funding. Even if you look internationally, not many inventory based companies actually make any money. So about a year and a half back we switched to a zero inventory model and it's been the same ever since. But yes, at some point we did think about going the inventory based model."When asked if Snapdeal is operationally profitable, Tony says, "I have no doubt in my mind that we will become operationally profitable soon. How soon, I cannot comment on it. Also, the way profitability is measured is quite complicated; at some departments, we're already operationally profitable. But overall, I think at this scale, a commission based model like ours can become profitable."

Before signing off, I asked Tony what keeps him at Snapdeal. He says, "I think most exciting part about Snapdeal is that we're such an aggressive company; we don't finch at the thought of changing our business model and we've done it so many times. But more recently, the whole company has got a great sense of clarity about where we're going and we realise that this is going to be a very big company in the coming years. Just being a part of that roller coaster ride is going to be a great experience. It has definitely been great so far."

Stay tuned as we bring you more from Snapdeal. Check out the highlights from our Fireside Chat with Snapdeal and Nexus Venture partners

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