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Paytm to flex offline muscle

By Karan Choudhury
June 14, 2017 17:04 IST
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Paytm is banking on its offline network of merchants to fight bigger rivals Amazon and Flipkart

Paytm Mall, the e-commerce arm of Vijay Shekhar Sharma-led One97 Communications, is banking on its offline network of merchants to fight bigger rivals Amazon and Flipkart.

A day after announcing the appointment of Amit Sinha as the chief operating officer (COO), the company has come out with a revamped offline to online (O2O) strategy, while trying to reduce the delivery time of products through a  hyperlocal model.

Paytm, which had recently hived off its e-commerce firm to make a distinction with its mobile wallet, has close to five million offline merchants. The company plans to expand that base and cover many more pin codes in the days to come.

The idea is to on-board local area shopkeepers and sell their products online. Paytm Mall is working with local shopkeepers to bring their catalogue online, which will enable discovery of their products.

The company will also provide the shops with Paytm Mall QR Code solution, by which consumers will be able to scan and browse their products and place an order.

Besides cutting on delivery time, the hyperlocal model is expected to help the company make greater inroads into grocery and daily need verticals. But company sources said the firm wouldn’t get into perishables.

“It will boost the business of local shops by bringing new customers who will be able to discover them on Paytm Mall and conveniently place an order. Retailers also get access to valuable customer analytics for better targeting of existing users,” the company said.

Paytm Mall started off with the same shareholding as the parent company of Paytm, One97 Communications, and raised $200 million from SAIF Partners and Alibaba Group Holding.

Photograph: Shailesh Andrade/Reuters

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Karan Choudhury in New Delhi
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