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Spicejet launches e-commerce portal SpiceStyle; Why?

Low-cost airline Spicejet has launched a fashion and lifestyle products e-commerce portal called SpiceStyle, reports ET Retail. At present, products are available across six categories, including Men, Women, Kids, Electronics, Travel and Designers. The Designers category currently only features Rohit Bal. Products on SpiceStyle will also be sold on Amazon India’s marketplace, and will be available on Amazon Prime at a flat 25% discount for a limited period.

Users can pay via debit card, credit card, net banking and the cash-on-delivery option is also available. The company has tied-up with Delhivery to handle logistics. Shoppers will be able to track their orders at www.track.delhivery.com. The website mentions that currently they ship products only to select locations within India, though they haven’t specified the locations. Note that as of March 2017, Delhivery served 600 cities, 8,500 PIN codes and had a network of 12 fulfilment centres.

Last month, Spicejet had introduced an e-boarding facility called e-Gate at Bangalore airport. This allows users to simply scan their regular paper/mobile boarding pass to self-board a flight.

Why e-commerce?

Given that established e-commerce players in India in the fashion and lifestyle segment are facing downturns, and consolidation seems to the way forward, what’s the point of launching an e-commerce venture at this point? If Spicejet introduces in-flight shopping kiosks, or something on the lines of Ola Play, where each seat has a touchscreen access point to SpiceStyle, passengers might be inclined to makes some purchases. However, since Spicejet reported a 61.43% drop in net profit for the quarter ended March 31, 2017 (Q4 FY17) to Rs 41.6 crore, from Rs 107.87 crore in the corresponding quarter last year, it doesn’t seem they’re in a position to invest heavily. Though it must be noted that the company said the demonitisation had significant impact on business in both Q3 FY17 and Q4 FY17.

This isn’t completely unprecedented: Internationally, Singapore Airlines operates an in-flight e-store called KrisShop, while Lufthansa runs an online shop called WorldShop. Closer home, IRCTC had launched its e-commerce venture with Yebhi in August 2013. The site offered products like mobile phones, electronics, home and kitchen products, men’s and women’s shoes, apparel, accessories, luggage and books among others. Then in August 2014, it silently shutdown the platform.

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