Infibeam.com

Infibeam has changed its business model from being a pure e-commerce business to a hybrid venture which will be partly a marketplace and partly an e-commerce retailer, reports TechCircle.

The report states that Infibeam will now start allowing merchants to offer similar products it offers at the same price or a different price, providing customers with different price options for the same product. The company claimed that it has already signed up more than 1,000 sellers for this marketplace offering in the past two months.

Marketplace Listings: Infibeam CEO Vishal Mehta has told the publication that it is currently offering marketplace listings for products in the Electronics and books category. However when we checked, we noticed that the company currently offers marketplace listings only on select products, since we were hard pressed to find a product listing with other vendors at the time of writing this article. But its possible that this ratio will probably improve in the forthcoming future.

In these hybrid product listings, we noticed that Infibeam allows merchants to offer new and used items alongside its own offerings. It also offers additional vendor information like the seller name, ratings and return policy among others and allows customers to buy these products directly from these sellers using Infibeam’s infrastructure and payment gateway. This is quite similar to how Amazon offers both new and used items for each product on its portal. The company will also apparently offer an additional logistics service to sellers, offering them to deliver the products to customers using Infibeam’s logistics.

Infibeam Marketplace

Vendors: We noticed that the company has also setup a merchant signup page on its portal, inviting sellers to list their products on Infibeam. However, we are not quite sure if this page is new or was available earlier as well. Interestingly though, Infibeam CEO Vishal Mehta has reportedly told TechCircle that this marketplace will be limited to sellers who have signed up for its self-service e-commerce backend platform BuildaBazaar. While Mehta mentioned that this move was made to control the products and vendors that are being offered on Infibeam, we believe this move will also probably increase the customer base of BuildABazaar service, on which the company seems to be focussing on for the past year or so.

That being said, we are a bit curious as to why Infibeam has pivoted to a hybrid business. Was it because that BuildABazaar was possibly performing better, so the company decided to integrate both the e-commerce platform and its front-end e-commerce business? Or was is it in anticipation for a foreign investment in the future? Remember that Foreign Direct Investment in e-commerce has not been allowed in India but it currently allows marketplaces to take foreign direct investments. While Infibeam does retail its own goods as of now, its quite possible that the company may pivot to a marketplace model in the future.

Affiliate Program: Besides this, we also noticed that Infibeam has launched a new affiliate program on its portal, allowing customers to refer products to their friends and earn commission in return, which can then be redeemed as Infibeam Gift Vouchers or traditional cheques. However, we are not quite sure if this program is new or has been available earlier, since we weren’t able to find any official communication on it.

The company is currently offering up to 5% commission on categories like apparels, books and media and lifestyle and 1% commission on categories like Electronics, gold and silver coin purchases and gift voucher purchases. Its worth noting that e-commerce major and Infibeam’s competitor Flipkart has been offering a affiliate program for quite sometime now, although it offers variable commission for each product category.

Competition: By launching a marketplace, Infibeam will be competing with other e-commerce marketplaces like IndiaPlaza, eBay India, Snapdeal and Indiatimes Shopping. Last month, Flipkart had also officially revealed its plans to launch a marketplace, and was looking to sign up external sellers for the launch of its marketplace. It had also later sold its front end retail operations WS Retail to a group of investors led by former OnMobile COO Rajiv Kuchhal.

Related:

A Rant On India And E-Commerce
The Funding Environment For E-Commerce In India – K Vaitheeswaran, IndiaPlaza
Infibeam Introduces Pre-paid Wallet To Counter Failed Transactions
Infibeam’s Buildabazaar Extends Its DIY eCommerce Platform To Travel Segment

(With Inputs From Vikas SN)