Update: Yebhi.com CEO Danish Ahmed told Medianama that they had launched the beta version of the website on September 2. He also clarified that the issue of PIN numbers not displaying in case of Flipkart vouchers was due to certain design issues, which has now been fixed and now customers can see the vouchers under the ‘bought vouchers’ segment, along with the PIN number.
Earlier (September 4): Fashion and lifestyle e-commerce portal Yebhi.com seems to have switched from being an e-commerce site to an aggregator of products from other e-commerce platforms, like Myntra, Jabong, and Flipkart among others, as well as a couponing site. This was first pointed out by a member of the online shopping community DesiDime, though Yebhi had indicated that such a change was in the offing on its Facebook page as well. (Ps.: thanks for the Anonymous Tip)
Yebhi had raised $12 million as bridge round of funding from its existing investors, Fidelity Growth Partners India, Qualcomm Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners and Catamaran Ventures last year in April. Apart from the bridge round Yebhi has raised a total of Rs 150. It had raised Rs 100 crore in a Series C round of funding from Fidelity Growth Partners India and Qualcomm Incorporated and existing investors like Nexus Venture Partners and Infosys Chairman, Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures in July 2012. The company also raised Rs 40 crore in Series B investments from Nexus Venture Partners and Catamaran Ventures in July 2011 and Rs 10 crore in a Series A round from Nexus Venture Partners in February 2011.
The e-commerce game has changed, with Flipkart raising $1 billion in a recent round of funding, and Amazon announcing plans to invest $2 billion. The Indian government has not yet allowed FDI in e-commerce, though marketplaces can operate in the country. Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon operate marketplaces.
Yebhi has been struggling with problems of its own as well. Earlier this year, co-founders Nitin Agarwal and Rajul Jain had left the company, apparently to start their own ventures. Last year board members Raul Rai, MD of FGPI and Suvir Sujan co-founder of Nexus Venture Partners had quit from the board of directors of BigShoeBazaar Pvt Ltd, which operates Yebhi. Yebhi Chief Business Officer Nikhil Rungta also quit in March 2014 to join Reliance Jio as CMO, barely a year after he joined Yebhi.
Yebhi also dropped plans of raising further investment in a bid to break-even and create profitability. BigShoeBazaar had reported a loss of Rs 65.63 crore at the end of FY-13 up from a loss of Rs 47.16 crore at the end of FY-12, on revenues of Rs 88.62 crore in FY-13, up from Rs 47.1 crore in FY-12. However, Agarwal had said at the time that the company had a GMV of Rs 250 crore.
Teething troubles with the aggregator business
Yebhi customers can now browse products from a number of e-commerce portals on Yebhi, and are redirected to the respective sites in order to purchase the products. In return for making purchases on other sites, Yebhi offers them Yebhi Coins, which they can use to buy gift vouchers and other coupons. However, Yebhi doesn’t seem to be delivering on its promise. A number of customers have posted on its Facebook page that they converted their Yebhi Coins into Flipkart gift vouchers, but none of them have voucher PINs, which effectively makes them redundant.
Also, it isn’t clear what will happen to Yebhi’s MyWallet feature, which was launched in January 2013. Will the amount in MyWallet be treated as Yebhi Coins?
IRCTC e-commerce partnership backfired
Last month it became clear that IRCTC hadn’t renewed Yebhi’s contract to manage its e-commerce portal, which is currently defunct. 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.
IRCTC had partnered with Yebhi for managing the platform in July 2013. The potential reach of the platform made it an exciting proposition. IRCTC had claimed at the time to have 2 crore registered users with 1.2 million daily visits. In fact, in November 2013 Yebhi co-founder and CEO Manmohan Agarwal told Medianama that the association with IRCTC was doing great. He added that within two months of the launch the site was attracting close to half-a-million unique visitors everyday.
What led to the souring of the partnership isn’t clear, as both parties have remained silent. Was IRCTC unhappy with Yebhi’s logistics handling capability?