Telecom operator Bharti Airtel, has launched an eCommerce site called as Airtel Shop that offers products and services on mobile handsets, digital TV, and broadband connections. The shop has been powered by ecommerce company Infibeam.

Airtel appears to be using the site primarily for bundling handsets and connections: customers can avail up to 33% off on mobile devices with exclusive Airtel plans, Rs 500 cashback on new broadband connections, and  Rs 250 cashback on new digitalTV connections. The Airtel shop has a wide range of mobile handsets to offer from Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC, and Apple. Though Airtel won’t be selling or delivering handsets themselves, mobile phones will be made available and delivered by NSI Infinium Global Pvt Ltd (which runs Infibeam), and order acceptance and delivery is also subject to stock availability at Infibeam. The cost of mobile handsets across both the portals — Airtel shop and Infibeam is same for most products, however, Airtel Shop offers customers few exclusive deals on data connection along with the handset purchase. Infibeam on the other hand, also offers a 30-day replacement guarantee for all products sold on Airtel’s website with conditions applicable.

Airtel Money Payment Option Not Integrated (Nikhil adds)

Airtel Shop only offers payment via credit card, debit card and net banking. There’s no option for cash on delivery which majority of Internet-friendly Indians prefer, but even more surprisingly, it doesn’t offer payment via Airtel’s own mobile wallet service — Airtel Money. Surely, Airtel should have also tied up with Infibeam for payments using Airtel Money both on its own site, as well as Infibeam.com. Or is it a case of one part of the business (telecom) not quite in synch with another (mobile payments)?

Also, one would have expected Airtel to take a wider approach to its shopping site, and try and expand the mandate of its on-deck site Airtel Live, which retails music, videos, wallpapers, and other VAS, instead of just focusing on handsets. They have the audience and the reach, the opportunity to deploy across platforms (open web, broadband VAS and mobile), and integrating Airtel Money payments. If Airtel had to set up a shop, it should have been a marketplace, instead of just focusing on selling connections and handsets, and perhaps involving multiple vendors. They’ve done that with services, so why not with products? Airtel has been pushing its mobile sevices to the web, but across separate sites – VAS subscription, online recharge.

Someone needs to start thinking bigger.