Cashback News – Nov 18: India ecommerce catches fire with consumers and VCs

cashback is the new black in India

Cashback on fireToday’s cashback and ecommerce roundup focuses on India where CashKaro gets $3.8 million in new VC capital from Kalaari Capital for SE Asia expansion. Times of India acquires majority interest in mobile rewards app Taskbucks for $15 million. Payment wallet Oxigen loses business from Snapdeal and Flipkart as ecommerce firms build their own.

Many manufacturers such as Haier and Whirlpool are finding e-commerce sites to be the perfect launchpad for their smart products in India. Amazon festival 2015 sales are up four times compared with the previous year according to the data analysis by research firm Ugam. Alphabet, the tech company also known as Google, enters the Indian market building a hybrid app and e-commerce website in a partnership with FlipkartSnapdeal’s test of selling houses online was a success, generating more than 10,000 registrations of interest. It’s poised to try other luxury goods in the very near future.

In India, cashback is the new black cashback and coupons site CashKaro has scored its latest batch of funding – INR 25 crore (approx US$3.8 million) in a series A round from Bangalore-based Kalaari Capital, marking the first time a local VC firm has invested in a cashback-oriented startup.

The vote of confidence from Kalaari is promising – it has previously invested in Indian success stories including Snapdeal and UrbanLadder – and also indicates a unique aspect of India’s tech market. While group-buying sites, most notably Groupon, have been in a slump since 2011, markets like India and China have been working well with online coupons. Via

Times Internet buys majority stake in Taskbucks for $15 million

Times acquires TaskbucksTimes Internet Ltd, the digital arm of the Times of India Group, on Monday acquired a majority stake in Taskbucks, a mobile-only tasks marketplace that matches consumers with brands and enterprises. Times Internet has invested $15 million in Taskbucks.

Companies use Taskbucks to offer tasks to consumers, who are then rewarded for completing these micro-tasks via the Taskbucks marketplace. These tasks, says the company, can vary from trying new apps or engaging with existing ones to sharing content and taking surveys. As rewards, consumers completing the tasks earn Bucks, which can be used to get free mobile-phone recharge, free postpaid bill payments, Paytm cash, etc.  Via Livemint

E-commerce firms’ new game plans spoil party for payment wallet companies like Oxigen and Paytm payment wallet firms say they are getting locked out of the booming ecommerce sector as the companies that run marketplaces prefer their own subsidiaries or are intent on making sure that customers spend any cash-back money on their own sites.

Oxigen said it’s no longer available on one of India’s biggest shopping sites. “We were present on Snapdeal before it acquired Freecharge and decided to take us down,” said Ankur Saxena, CEO, Oxigen. “At one point in time they did accept wallets but now all of them want to come up with their own wallets.” Freecharge is the only wallet option on Snapdeal, which has also launched cashback offers that direct customers to the unit’s offerings. Snapdeal acquired Freecharge for nearly Rs 2,400 ($444.4 million) crore in April this year. Via

CashKaro Raises $3.8M Series A to Become the Ebates of SE Asia

$10 million in sales per monthCashKaro, which claims to be India’s largest cashback and coupon site, is planning to expand into new countries after raising a $3.8 million Series A from Kalaari Capital. Founded in 2013 by husband-and-wife team Swati and Rohan Bhargava, CashKaro works with more than 1,000 e-commerce sites and makes money through their affiliate programs.

Swati Bhargava told TechCrunch that CashKaro’s commissions from their partners range from one to 30 percent, depending on retailers and product category. CashKaro then passes about 75 to 90 percent of that amount back to its users in cash that can be deposited into their bank accounts. Though it keeps a small slice of each commission, CashKaro is still able to earn revenue because of the volume of transactions its users make. Bhargava says the site currently processes about $10 million in total sales every month, with advertising also becoming an increasingly important source of income. Since its launch in April 2013, CashKaro has credited about $3 million in cashbacks, an amount it expects to reach $5.4 million in the next few months. Via

E-commerce sites are new launchpads for smart products may benefit from scanning e-commerce platforms, for several leading consumer durables makers are launching such innovative products exclusively for online shoppers, not only to reduce sales channel conflict but also to ramp up their dull sales growth numbers. This is in stark contrast to the earlier strategy that restricted online differentiation to just design, colour or model names.

Companies including Tata-owned Voltas, Godrej Appliances, Haier, Whirlpool and Videocon appear to have taken notice of 50% growth in online sales this year till Diwali, which accounted for 5% of total industry sales and indicated that e-commerce can be a big sales channel for white goods and televisions. Via

Amazon festive season sales up four times year, in an interview with this newspaper, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had said that investments into India will start to show results soon. Indeed, they seem to be paying off already. Starting with the Freedom Day sale in August, followed by the five-day-long ‘Great Indian Festive Sale’, and now the three-day Diwali sale, Amazon has been at its aggressive best.

The e-tailer, which has invested $2 billion in India, has registered four times the sales during the festive season so far, compared with the corresponding period last year according to Amazon senior vice president and CFO, Brian T Olsavsky. The company offers 40,000 products a day so far this year on its platform and the number of sellers has grown more than 250% year-on-year. Via

Ugam uses Big Data analytics to dissect the great Indian Diwali eCommerce saleDATAQUEST recently announced its pricing and assortment intelligence analysis of the recently concluded Amazon Great Indian Diwali Sale revealing insights on Amazon’s pricing competitiveness and assortment strategies for the festive season. The study synthesized a list of likely bestselling products across three categories – laptops, home appliances, books – and compared Amazon’s assortment and pricing to that of Flipkart and Snapdeal.

Key pricing findings:
– Amazon dominated the sale period, offering the lowest prices in 2 out of the 3 categories
– In home appliances, Amazon offered 6% and 4% lower prices compared to Snapdeal and Flipkart, respectively
– In laptops, Amazon offered 5% higher prices compared to Snapdeal and tied prices with Flipkart
– In books, Amazon offered 53% and 26% lower prices compared to Snapdeal and Flipkart, respectively Via

Alphabet Inc (GOOG) Enters The Indian Ecommerce Market Through Flipkart Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) recently partnered with Flipkart to build a Flipkart Lite for Indian online buyers. This new browser-app hybrid serves the purposes of both a mobile app and a website. Flipkart Lite not only gives Flipkart users a better shopping experience but also gets Google in the Indian ecommerce market.

Flipkart Lite is a mobile website in all sense of the word. According to Google, owned by Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG), this is the first app that made use of Google’s Service Workers. This new website app works on Google Chrome and offers every feature available on the mobile app. It lets the user return to the home screen and control notifications. Flipkart Lite scores over the mobile app since it does not require frequent upgrades. It also reduces loading time and works in slow 2G connections. Via

Snapdeal Reports 10,000 Registrations During Diwali Home Buying Fest

Snapdeal-HousesSnapdeal seems to be on a roll this year, and everything seems to be falling in place for them. Starting from announcing record-breaking 60 minutes refund policy, which ensured monetary safety for customers, to receiving more than five million orders which showered praises on Snapdeal for shipping 98.9% orders within 24 hours, the large e-commerce website seems to have got almost everything figured out in 2015.

But that’s not it, recently Snapdeal partnered with Maggi to sell about 7,20,000 packs of Maggi through its online sale, one of a kind in India since it was a flash sale of a very popular food product. Also, in response to Flipkart, Snapdeal introduced Snap-Lite, a mobile browser app for slower connections and snappier performance on mobile phones browsers. However, Snapdeal does not seem to take a break from its expansion and vigorous selling techniques. This could not have come at a better time since Diwali is the period where people look forward to buying new products. Via

In the short-term, the Indian ecommerce market is on fire as consumers adopt buying online in a big way. VC investment shows no signs of plateauing either.