Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation’s (IRCTC) seems to have silently shut down its e-commerce platform, reports NextBigWhat. It mentions that the site has been down for the past couple of days, and all its contact channels are non-functional.
At the time of writing this article, the site is down for maintenance and we’re getting a “page not found” error for all category and product pages. We’ve written to IRCTC for a confirmation and will update once we hear back. We also tried calling Yebhi co-founder and CEO Manmohan Agarwal but there was no response. We’ll update in case we hear back from them.
New Partners? It’s worth noting that IRCTC had launched this e-commerce venture with Yebhi in August last year and it’s possible that IRCTC has not renewed its contract with Yebhi. Earlier in March, IRCTC Joint GM (Portal) Sunil Kumar had told YourStory that their agreement with Yebhi will end this year, following which they may float a fresh tender.
He had declined to comment on whether they plan to renew the existing contract with Yebhi or not, although the publication had cited sources to suggest that IRCTC was looking at new partners for this initiative and it was expected to float a new tender by the end of April. However, we weren’t able to find any relevant tender at the time of writing this article.
IRCTC had initially stated plans to enter the e-commerce segment in March last year and had floating a tender to shortlist a white label solution provider in the same month. The organization had selected Yebhi to manage this platform that had deployed a platform similar to its own website, both on the design and the products front, with IRCTC branding on top in August 2013.
The site offered products like mobile phones, electronics, home and kitchen products, men’s and women’s shoes, apparel and accessories among others, and had added luggage and books category in November last year. What made this launch significant was the potential reach it had. IRCTC had claimed to have 2 crore registered users with 1.2 million daily visits as of July 2013.
However, the site probably never took off in midst of severe competition from e-commerce players like Flipkart, Amazon India and Snapdeal. It’s worth noting that the railways ministry hadn’t disclosed any information on how its e-commerce store was performing during the Railway Budget last month.
It’s worth noting that Yebhi is struggling with problems of its own. Co-founders Nitin Agarwal and Rajul Jain had left the company in February this year, while the company had dropped plans to raise any further investment in a bid to “create profitability first and break-even”. It was also undergoing a cost restructuring which had led to employee layoffs.
Earlier, the company was looking to raise $30 million, although two of its existing investors Fidelity and Nexus Venture Partners were not expected to lead the round.