Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a subsidiary of the government controlled Indian Railways, that handles the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations, is now going beyond its core competence of train ticketing to add general e-commerce to its site. The idea seems to be to capitalise on the huge eyeballs the site gets through its train ticketing platform.
It has signed up with Yebhi.com to launch its online shopping platform. This is through a partnership between IRCTC and Shop Online Trading Pvt Ltd. (SOTPL), the company that runs Yebhi.com (under brand rights from Big Shoe Bazaar India Pvt Ltd to comply with FDI norms in the sector).
IRCTC will add a 'Shopping' section on its existing portal and will have all the product categories present on Yebhi as of now, shared Nikhil Rungta, chief business officer, Yebhi.com.
He also said the entities are looking at gross merchandise value of around Rs 200 crore in the first year of this venture. As per the deal, SOTPL and Yebhi.com will be responsible for developing and managing the e-commerce platform for IRCTC. The front-end will belong to IRCTC and the whole back-end supply-chain will be managed by Yebhi.com. Rungta said the interface should go live in a few weeks.
"With this association, IRCTC is getting a readymade supply chain with all products offering at one go powered by Yebhi.com and at the same time Yebhi.com is able to reach out to real India that starts from tier II, tier III cities and goes deep into tier IV and tier V locations," said Manmohan Agarwal, co-founder and CEO Yebhi.com.
This partnership follows a tender process initiated by IRCTC in February this year to shortlist a partner for its online platform. The tender was open for e-commerce companies with a minimum annual turnover of Rs 40 crore in the last financial year via their B2C e-commerce business.
IRCTC has been talking about foraying into product ecommerce for some time now. Earlier this year, reports suggested that IRCTC has initiated a proposal wherein it was planning to sell footwear, furnishings and electronic items such as mobile phones through its platform.
IRCTC gets close to 1.2 million daily visits generating 180 million transactions every year. Thus, it is the largest e-commerce site in the country focused on the train ticketing business. It had added air ticketing sometime ago. With this move IRCTC is looking to leverage this platform for selling other goods, becoming a one-stop e-tailing platform.
Yebhi.com raised $12 million (Rs 65 crore) from its existing investors in a bridge round earlier this year. It has in total received a capital influx of over $39 million (Rs 214 crore). It started as a shoe e-tailer but expanded latter to a lifestyle e-com firm with multiple categories like home, lifestyle and fashion and electronics along with mobile recharge on its platform.
Earlier, Agarwal told Techcircle.in that the portal is doing five-figure (over 10,000) orders a day. Will this partnership spell big success for Yebhi? We will have to wait and watch.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)