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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Naaptol Online Shopping raises Rs 136 crore from Mitsui & Co

NEW DELHI: Naaptol Online Shopping, which owns and operates TV shopping and ecommerce platform, has raised Rs 136 crore from Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co, the latest example of global investors continuing to back Indian online retailers.

Existing backers New Enterprise Associates, Canaan Partners and Silicon Valley Bank also participated in Naaptol's Series C or third round of institutional funding, which closed last month. The Mumbai-headquartered firm will use the money for expansion.

"We are already in 24/7 format across languages, and in this fiscal, we hope to be the largest home shopping network in India," said Manu Agarwal, founder and chief executive of Naaptol.

While Agarwal did not disclose exact stake sold to Mitsui, dilution is believed to be in single-digit percentage points. Investment bank Jefferies India was the financial adviser in the transaction.

Mitsui owns a sizeable stake in Japanese TV shopping retailer QVC Japan as well as home shopping networks in China and Japan. Naaptol competes with Reliance-owned HomeShop18, the country's largest TV shopping firm, as well as with TVC SkyShop and StarCJ. "Automation of our supply chain is also right on top of our agenda. We will be focusing on doing more creatives across more products," said Agarwal.

Naaptol is targeting commission revenue - which is net revenue, not gross - ofRs 530 crore for fiscal 2016, a 54% increase over its 2014-15 revenue. "We're not losing a significant amount of money, and expect to get into profitability by the end of this (financial) year," Agarwal said. The company derives about 85% of revenue from television, which it expects to grow to 90% this fiscal.

Indian home shopping grew by 6% in 2013 to Rs 1,210 crore last year, according to market research firm Euromonitor.

In June last year, global private equity firm Providence received approvals from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), the regulatory agency mandated to clear foreign direct investments in the country, to buy out Star Group's 50% stake in home shopping network StarCJ for an estimatedRs 300 crore.

Prior to the latest round of funding, Naaptol had raised $38.5 million from its existing investors. Institutional investors now hold a majority stake in the seven-year-old company, which sells a variety of products, including apparel, consumer electronics, home furnishings and kitchen appliances.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How Does the Biscuiteer Ensure Attractiveness of the Cookies in Market

Going by the demand of the market, it is seen that a lot of people are nowadays favouring the use of cookies in different occasions. Starting from weddings to birthdays, almost every occasion is marked with the servings of delicious baked biscuits and suitable cakes and confectioneries. All of such products can be brought from the bakeries these days because of improvised menus and methods of preparing. Since there are plenty of such bakeries, which are concentrating on the personalised cookies, designing, making and selling, it has been a boon for people looking out to provide cookies as gift items to their near and dear ones. Adding to the beauty and attraction of these cookies, the biscuiteer adds the necessary ingredients and designs for making it the best gift possible. 

•    Aware of demands of different varieties among the public 

Since the biscuiteer nowadays has different perspectives of baked items as per the changing requirements of the people, the preparations of such products have undergone significant change. Most of these changes have been brought about by the traditional way of gifting cookies or baked items, but in fresh manner. These days, there are cookie gift boxes being designed by the bakeries, in which there are personalised cookies, besides a few other items, which can vary from person to person as per the wishes. But, the factor of looks has always been the most important feature behind the cookies being given out as gifts, in a packing or wrapped in special papers.

•    Adding variations to the taste, shape and designs 

Best feature behind the personalised cookies being designed by the cookies for gift is the taste and shape that is possible with these items. With cookie cutter, bakeries are able to come up with all and any design that people want. This can range from the miniature robots to the shapes of plants and people. Hundreds of imaginable shapes and designs can be used in the cookies, especially when baked. Since these are prepared by special orders or during special occasions, people will find their choicest cookies in cookie gift boxes in all these occasions. On the other hand, there are bakeries that keep special order for designing special occasion cookies, which is an essential feature about these biscuits. Shapes of different types are of significance, because it helps in giving unique feel for the cookies, which is liked by young and old alike. 

•    Attractive designs and icing on the cookies 

Another contribution by the biscuiteer, towards the popularity is the special designs that can be put by means of baking or icing. This is supposedly an important part of most of the demand for cookie gift boxes, where people want to write names or have pictures or images or some other features on these cookies, so that they can convey the messages freely and clearly to their loved ones. These added features are hugely valuable as the cookies become attractive and tastier and are liked by one and all. This has ensured that the bakeries and biscuiteer give unique charm to these kinds of biscuits as gift items. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Attracting Cookie Lovers for Various Occasions with Decorated Biscuit Gifts

Gifts can be of varied types and each of these is filled with warmth and love when given to friends and families. So, when people find that there are certain items that bring such feelings, they gladly make it a point to gift them during different occasions. Usually during very close and personal occasions like baby showers, weddings and anniversaries, people are tending towards the purchases of biscuit gifts. In very large numbers of occasions, these items have become extremely popular and are being designed and made by bakeries and confectioneries in many places.

•    Decorations in the tasty cookies make them further alluring

Although the cookies or baked biscuits are popular among people, these items are being decorated and made attractive to allure buyers. This is the upcoming trend these days. When going for the purchase of the cookies, people can find plenty of designs already made and variety of other possible decorated biscuits that can be ordered. In this way, the market for decorated cookies has not only grown by leaps and bounds, but also seeing plenty of cookie lovers, with intent interest for buying such items so that they can gift their loved ones.

•    Cookies gaining popularity as gift items across occasions

It is because of the availability of variety of decorated cookies that their popularity as gift items has grown significantly. People are choosing to go along with these items as the safest choices of gifts because such biscuits are liked by all. Irrespective of the age and gender, all like these baked biscuits. When people receive cookies as gifts, it is an exchange of love and warmth, which will make it possible for them to express the feelings. Such feelings are possibly the basis of the popularity of these items as gifts in special occasions. Their popularity has grown to such an extent that almost in all occasions, there are cookies in the menu, to be served to the guests and in bakeries as gift items.

•    For special occasions, feelings are well represented with cookie gifts

For a lot of occasions nowadays, people choose to purchase the biscuit gifts, so that they can ensure that along with these cookie products, there is also warmth and lovely feelings exchanged. In an occasion as important as the baby shower for the parents, baby shower cookies are being designed by many bakeries and biscuiteers, which are hugely impressive. But, more than that, it is the cute little design that can be put on these biscuits, which are liked by the parents. Along with the cookies, all the best wishes and blessings for the parents and their to-be-born child is also mixed. This kind of feeling can very well be portrayed with these kinds of gifts.

•    Resources available to come up with beautiful designs of cookies

It is possible nowadays to decorate the biscuits with variety of designs, especially with icing instruments and baking machines in the market. Some of these can also be purchased for home use, while a lot of these are found in the commercial biscuit maker shops. With the help of such equipments and features, it is but natural that decorated biscuits are the flavour of gifting.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Now, companies hiring counsellors like Optum International to wean staff from online shopping

MUMBAI:For 32-year-old Anirudh Sehgal (name changed), an executive with a multinational corporation, online shopping brought distraction to his work and distress to his personal finances.

Sehgal would always have multiple shopping apps open on his mobile phone and shop secretly for thrill, spending a bulk of his salary buying unnecessary stuff. An online shopping de-addiction programme conducted by his employer last quarter came as a life saver. Optum International, the organisation that conducted the de-addiction programme, has since also connected him with a counsellor.

"We not only made him realise the long-term impact and possible ways to tackle this addiction, we also connected him to our financial advisors who helped him plan his expenses better," says Amber Alam, head of business (India), Optum International (formerly PPC Worldwide), a provider of employee counselling.

It has so far conducted online shopping de-addiction programmes for about 500 executives.

The tribe of such compulsive online prodigals is slowly growing, say counsellors and psychiatrists. This is forcing companies to come alongside and offer help to executives addicted to buying stuff online.

"Shopping addiction exists in our study on exploration of behavioural addiction in community," says Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, additional professor, department of clinical psychology, NIMHANS, Bangalore.

About 4.7% of female respondents and 3.5% of male respondents admitted to online shopping addiction in a NIMHANS study of 2,750 people in the age group of 18-65 years. The study was funded by Indian Council of Medical Research, Delhi.

Every day, Sameer Malhotra, who heads the department of mental health & behavioural sciences at Max Healthcare, treats at least two patients struggling with compulsive online shopping disorders. Leading multinational corporations are seeking de-addiction and counselling assistance for their employees, companies that provide such assistance say.

'A lot of anxiety'

Optum International recently did a workshop for two leading multinationals in India. Each workshop is facilitated by a psychologist, who advises participants on behavioural aspects, and a financial analyst, who advises them on budgeting and shopping responsibly without going overboard. These are typically 90-minute sessions with 30-35 participants. Counselling sessions are also offered at the end of such de-addiction sessions.

"There is a lot of anxiety because people are spending money buying stuff on the Internet sitting in offices, airports, washrooms, wherever they can, and damaging their finances," says Alam.

Typical signs of online shopping addiction include loss of self-control, ignoring other tasks, binges of buying unnecessary products followed by stressed finances and guilt.

"This is a kind of compulsive behaviour where consumers get a kick or are compelled to buy things they do not need in abundance," says Max Healthcare's Malhotra. "It sometimes boils down to keeping them under supervision or keeping away plastic money from them," he adds.

Online retailers claim to be unaware of this syndrome. "We haven't come across any cases of online addiction among consumers so far," says Praveen Sinha, co-founder and managing director of "But we are better prepared in their recovery process by digging data of their shopping behaviour. I doubt this will ever become an alarming issue for the ecommerce sector in India," he adds.

An email query and calls to Amazon and Snapdeal went unanswered while Flipkart said it cannot comment since the company hasn't encountered such instances.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Online Shopping: Safety Tips

India is witnessing an unprecedented economic boom. We can see the effect of this boom all around us. Among others, there has been an exponential rise in consumer spending. At the same time, more and more consumers are looking for easy way to shop since their time is increasingly under pressure.

E-commerce or online shopping provides a way out. Given the near universal availability of Internet connectivity, consumers save time and efforts by shopping online. More and more merchants are realising the enormous potential of the medium of Internet and are gearing up to offer products and services.

As the potential of online shopping is being grasped, the risks are going up too, particularly for consumers. Sadly, many online shoppers ignore the pitfalls and do not follow even minimum risk protection norms. If anything, online shopping frauds are more dangerous, because once the security is breached, fraudsters can siphon off a lot of money without the victim realising it.

Following some non-negotiable security norms is not an option; it is a pre-requisite for a delightful online shopping experience. So, the next time you shop online, do follow these tips:

1. Link Of A Website: Avoid going to an online shopping site through a link or pop-ups, howsoever interesting the offers are. Always type the website address into the address bar. Be wary of tempting offers, as they may be from fraudsters who have created a fake site.

2. Look For The Image Of A Lock At The Bottom Right Corner: To make sure your website is safe, look for the image of a closed lock in the browser window. Click on the icon and ensure the security certification is displayed. You are vulnerable to identity theft when you are entering your information on a spoofed site.

3. Check Privacy Policy: Are you sure the seller of a website where you have given personal details is not sharing them with others for money? Check the Privacy Policy of the website to make sure what the seller will and will not do with details about you.

4. Be Wary Of e-mails: You may receive an e-mail that appears as if it is from the seller that you have shopped online. You may be asked for your personal information to "verify" the accounts or "clear-up" errors that have occurred. Before responding, reconfirm with the seller. Call up and confirm if necessary, or send a mail and act only after you get a response.

5. Secured Programs: If the purchases are through a debit or credit card, then make sure that you sign-up for the "verified by VISA" and/or "Master secured code program(s)". Each transaction will then be authorised only by you.

6. Anti-Spyware/Trojan Software: Make sure that the latest version of antivirus, anti-spyware or anti-Trojan programs are installed on your PC or laptop and are regularly updated.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Online shopping is the next big thing

It's late afternoon on a Sunday . and you are in the middle of IPL's final match between Rajasthan Royals and King's Punjab XI, and the wife reminds you that you have to go shopping. However bored you are, you know that it's month end and you are left with no choice but to go shopping. You switch on your laptop, visit at least three retail outlets' online shopping portals, shop for the best prices, and all this without missing even a single Shane Warne delivery to Yuvraj Singh.

Online retailing or e-tailing has been a distant concept in India , except in the travel and ticketing sector. The Future Group has been an early mover while others such as Reliance Retail, RPG Cellcom, and Tata Woolworths are gearing up to launch their own online shopping portals.

Importantly , smaller players such as Vishal Retail, Subhiksha and Spinach too are seriously looking at e-tailing as a future revenue generator. Says R Subramanian, MD, Subhiksha, "We are investing Rs 12 crore into this venture and expect 3-4 % of total business coming from online. We'll deliver across 400 towns we are present in."

Other than shopping the website will be designed to provide buyers with information such as new store opening, offers and promotions and so on. Vishal Retail is also looking at internet shopping, confirms its MD Ramesh Chandra Agarwal, "We plan to launch our online shopping portal in the next 4-5 months, and have already appointed a person to head the new venture."

He says prices on the portal will be 5-15 % lower than what a consumer pays in their stores. Figures released by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) state that the ecommerce market is expected to reach the Rs 9,210 crore mark by the end of 2007-08 , a growth of 30% over the current year.

Online is the largest contributor to the B2C e-commerce industry at Rs 5,500 crore for the year 2006-07 and is expected to rise to Rs 7,000 crore by the end of 2007-08 . Etailing stands at Rs 850 crore in the year 2006-07 and contributes maximum to the on-line nontravel industry. It is expected to be Rs 1,105 crore by end 2007-08 .

Reliance Retail is on the verge of rolling out its integrated e-tailing website that will include Reliance Fresh, Digital, Trendz and other verticals. The company will set up its own call centre and a separate team for it, says Ajay Baijal, president, Reliance Digital: "Cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune are going Wi-Fi and we see a massive opportunity here for online shopping."

Speciality mobile retail store chain RPG Cellcom too is making its on-line foray soon. Its marketing head Bishwajeet Pandey says, "The prices on-line will be no different from our store price, and we plan to charge a little extra for home delivery."

The challenges in replicating the success of physical stores online are very different, and retailers are eyeing a different set of value adds and experience to hook customers. Some are planning to introduce virtual shopping , where the customer can get a feel of moving around in a mall, and can click on the items he/she wants to buy.

Mumbai-based Spinach is among those looking at virtual shopping. Says its CEO Pushpamitra Das, "There's big business in on-line retailing and it's still untapped in India. We're planning a virtual shopping experience which will be launched very soon."

Retailers have begun viewing IT as one of the areas, which could strengthen their market position, and market share thereby. Most of the spending would be in supply chain management , point of sale systems, strategic merchandising and facilitating customer relationships.

It is estimated that India, China and Russia would be spending over $1.57 billion in 2010 on software, says a research report by AMR. The report mentions that retailers would hike their IT budget by 25% by 2010. Says Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of retail strategies at AMR Research, "To support growth initiatives, retailers in India, China and Russia are focusing on building a technology architecture."

Says Ajit Joshi, CEO, Tata Woolworths , "We'll either partner with TCS or IBM or a combination of both for our e-commerce venture. We are conducting a detailed study since an online business should be supported by excellent delivery systems."

Online retail is also expected to benefit the credit cards business. According to credit card companies, retail has been instrumental in boosting average consumer spending per card at stores. According to an AT Kearney report credit card transaction value in organised retail has been is growing at 35% in India.

So card issuers have been tying up with retail chains with an eye on larger prospects when online shopping opens up in a big way by 2010.