While Cash-on-Delivery (COD) is considered a necessary evil in Indian e-commerce, it’s been a driving force for startups to build trust with consumers who aren’t familiar with shopping for physical goods online. COD is still a widely preferred payment option for online shoppers, with over 60 per cent of overall e-commerce orders purchased with it.
Interestingly, India’s second largest digital commerce player, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (Paytm is the largest), hadn’t considered COD payments for more than a decade. The public ticketing portal only recently introduced COD payments, powered by Noida-based startup BookMyTrain.
The simple thought behind launching BookMyTrain was to enable people to buy IRCTC tickets without divulging their credit or debit card details. “Many people, who otherwise have access to Internet (through mobiles or PCs), are still not able to purchase railway tickets online, despite the convenience that it offers, simply because they’re uncomfortable with using their debit or credit card online, or they don’t have net-banking access,” says Anurag Bajpai, co-founder of BookMyTrain.
When Anduril Technologies - BookMyTrain’s mother company- approached IRCTC with the COD option, its objective was simple – reach out to consumers who fall in the aformentioned bracket.
How it works?
Once you are on BookMyTrain’s website or app, click on the 'Buy a Ticket' tab to book your journey. Select the desired source, destination, quota and journey date. Accept the terms of booking, and mention your delivery address. Finally, confirm your booking by tendering your registered email/IRCTC’s username.
“The COD facility offered only by us on train tickets was in the larger interest of the common man, who either had to spend time, energy and money at reservation counters, or was harassed by travel agents and touts,” explains Anurag. IRCTC, which is also working towards easing train travel in India, understood the immense benefits of COD before adopting it.
Anurag has had previous experience in logistics and distribution from his work with First Flight Couriers for more than 17 years .
Besides web, the startup also offers its app on Android, Windows and iOS platforms. Apart from choosing the COD option, while buying tickets, a user can check her booking history, apply for refund or file a TDR.
Operational since February 2015, BookMyTrain has received an encouraging response so far. “We have over 75,000 registered users, and amassed more than 50,000 app downloads within 100 days,” states Anurag.
The platform closes 4,000 transactions on a monthly basis, 70 per cent of which are COD. The average ticket size is Rs 1,500-1,800, and maximum numbers of tickets are booked from Delhi/NCR, followed by Maharashtra and Karnataka.
For pan-Indian ticket delivery, the company has partnered with a last mile delivery service provider.
The startup plans to expand from 200 cities (at present) to 750 cities and towns in the next few weeks. It’s also prepared to serve a larger chunk of train travellers if IRCTC allows service providers like them, who are in the B2C segment, to enable ticket booking in 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. window as well.
Over the past 12 months, the newly elected central government has been taking a slew of steps to improve user experience.
Earlier in March, this year, Amazon won a bid to power IRCTC’s online retail arm, while Paytm partnered with IRCTC to offer its wallet for online ticket booking. The public portal struck an alliance with mydala, too, to offer better deals to customers.