At a time when e-commerce market leader Flipkart is about to raise more than $1 billion and rival Snapdeal has had to fire half its workforce to stay in the game, a churn at the top in India’s online shopping space seems certain. While US-based online marketplace Amazon is growing stronger by the day, e-commerce giant Alibaba has made its first major move in the Indian market with Paytm, in which it holds a majority stake, announcing the launch of the Paytm Mall app on Android.
Paytm, essentially a mobile wallet-focused company, recently had to separate its e-commerce arm following new government regulations. The e-commerce arm now claims to have more than 1,40,000 sellers and 68 million SKUs. Like most horizontal marketplaces, Paytm Mall also sells mobiles, electronics, fashion, groceries, etc.
Paytm Mall will offer consumers combined features of the mall and bazaar concepts. According to a press release, only trusted sellers passing strict quality and eligibility criteria will be allowed on the 'mall'. All products listed on the mall will also go through Paytm-certified warehouse and shipping channels.
Speaking at the launch, Saurabh Vashishtha, Vice President, Paytm, said, “In our journey to become the preferred e-commerce platform for Indians, the launch of the Paytm Mall app is an important step as it connects consumers with trusted sellers.”
Curiously, the name Paytm Mall itself is strikingly similar to Paytm’s godfather Alibaba’s B2C e-commerce arm, Tmall, which holds more than 50 percent share of online retail in China.
Paytm, which is set to take the battle to the other e-commerce biggies, already has 17 fulfilment centres and 40 courier partners across India. Paytm Mall’s iOS app is expected to be launched soon. According to the statement from the company, Paytm Mall will also launch an upgraded version of the Paytm Seller app in seven regional languages.
Paytm hit the jackpot following the government’s demonetisation move in November 2016. Now it is in the process of building a payments bank system. Recent media reports suggest that Paytm E-commerce is trying to raise $200 million at a valuation of $1 billion. China-based Alibaba owns about 40 percent in it.