It looks like Times Internet* has quietly pulled the plug on its NRI focussed e-commerce property HutK.com, just as quietly it was launched back in November 2011. At the time of writing this article, a note on the website informs visitors that ‘Hutk is under maintenance’ and asks them to shop for similar products on Indiatimes Shopping. This was first reported by Nextbigwhat.
When we contacted Times Internet on this, the company told Medianama that Hutk was one of Times Internet’s few experimental businesses to understand the NRI market and measure the consumer traction at a minimal cost however it is now shifting its focus to the Indian e-commerce market, where the company is apparently registering a double digit growth month-on-month.
So it looks like Hutk probably didn’t take off as per the company’s expectations, due to which the company is pulling the plug on the portal. The company however noted both the site and its sourcing relationships for Hutk.com are still alive, so its possible that the company will probably integrate Hutk directly into its e-commerce portal Indiatimes Shopping in the future.
Launched in November 2011, Hutk catered to customers looking for ethnic Indian products including ethnic Indian apparel for men and women, jewelry, handicrafts such as paintings and sculptures and spiritual items like japa malas (rosaries) and puja items. It also offered flower delivery within and outside India including bouquets and arrangements of Roses, Lilies, Orchids, Tulips etc. HutK displayed prices in Indian Rupee, Pound Sterling, Euros and US Dollars, and claims to deliver worldwide including India.
The e-commerce segment continues to be volatile in the country, with several companies struggling to break even with its existing business models and finding it difficult to raise investments due to India’s FDI In retail policy which prohibits foreign investments in e-commerce.
Last month, Children-focused e-commerce startup Wopshop.com shut down its operations within one year of its launch. Seventymm, the online movie rental business which had pivoted into e-commerce, had also reportedly shut down its operations. Naspers owned Tradus had also acquired e-commerce portal BuyThePrice.com, a little over a year after Naspers had invested Rs 8.5 crore in the company.
On a positive note though, broadcaster NDTV had stated its plans to enter e-commerce segment through its subsidiary NDTV Worldwide Ltd in February 2013. We had heard from sources that the venture will target Indian diaspora with ethnic wear and the company had appointed Fashion And You co-founder, Rahul Narvekar to head its e-commerce operations.
Do read our white paper explaining the Structuring of Foreign Direct Investments In eCommerce in India.
*Disclosure: Times Internet is an advertiser with MediaNama