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Paytm Mall dips into offline-to-online commerce; cues from Alibaba?

The e-commerce division of One97 Communications, Paytm Mall, is now dipping its toes into offline-to-online (O2O) commerce and will catalog inventories of physical shops to enable discovery of products online. The company is aiming to boost the business of local shops by bringing new customers who will be able to discover them on Paytm Mall site.

Customers who walk into the shops to scan the Paytm Mall QR code will be able to follow the store online, place orders and get offers. Retailers also get access to customer analytics for better targeting of existing users.

Consumers can buy products from their local retailers while also getting access to same day or next day delivery through the O2O model. “They will soon have the option to get products delivered from the store as well as pick them from the store directly,” the company said in a press statement.

Meanwhile, Paytm Mall says it will be widening the reach of its QR code across the local shops in the coming months and offer more products to its customers. Note that Paytm started building an offline presence through QR codes payments and at last count, it said that it had over 5 million merchants and it will be looking to leverage them for the O2O play.

Cues from Alibaba? Note that Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba invested $200 million in Paytm Mall and is likely taking cues from them. In 2015, Alibaba said that it is focusing on pushing its O2O model where it partners with on the ground retailers to help with increasing their logistics network. At the time, Alibaba had more that 180,000 offline stores across 330 cities in China as part of its O2O network.

Competition from JustDial: With Paytm Mall entering the O2O space, it might be stepping into territory of more established players such as JustDial which leveraged their listings business and built e-commerce capabilities. JustDial started aggregating offline vendors such as neighbourhood electronics shops: Once a buyer selects a product, she is given the best quotes from vendors from that city. Meanwhile, the company had launched a new product called JD Omni, now on put on ice as it fixes the pricing. Essentially, JD Omni was an inventory management product to help small businesses manage their online and offline sales. Omni would help small businesses and shops get their own website complete with a payment gateway and also provide real-time information on the availability of products in inventory.

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