O2O in India — Can be as big as eCommerce

Groupon showed us the way what we call today O2O. Online to offline. And the crux of this business is to target those who are online and push them to offline for the transactions. This is completely opposite to eCommerce so to say.

However the country that took the full advantage of this is China. I think it had all the right ingredients to get there. More and more people were coming online for the first time, people there are value conscious, they are very conservative on their spending, and moreover they like to see things before purchasing. What else is needed for a successful O2O? Only one thing — great mobile product that millions of people can access in order to discover stuffs around. And China built that capabilities too over the years. I believe China has some of the best mobile apps in the world. Just because they are written in Chinese, we happened to not know them.

India, on the other hand, has similar opportunity. Almost 500 million people will come online for the first time through Mobile. And if my technology adoption trend analysis is somewhat close to the reality, I think India will be there in next 4–6 years. Question is who will do it? Some Indian company or someone from USA? India has a history of relying on foreign products. We love stuffs made in America. 90% of the Apps in our mobile today are foreign made. So thats a difficult thing to predict. However I would say this — it has to have local influence. Meaning something that can adapt to local languages, local usage behaviors, and of course local people operating the business in each local market. Pretty hard to do that by a foreign entity though. Let’s just wait and see how it evolves.

Just looking into the stat, India has over 50mn small business. They are all creative, they build stuffs at home, and sell thru various channels. All they need a channel to showcase their products and attract people to buy their creativity and do business with them. But the problem is more and more people using smartphones, more time they are spending online. In this scenario, I think, one channel for those SMEs to reach out to those who spend 2–5hrs everyday on a small LCD screen can make a big difference to their business. After all as a business you have to be present where your customers are :)

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