Airtel to offer DIY e-com platform Shopify to its SME customers

Telecommunications services provider Bharti Airtel has announced that it will offer Shopify, a do-it-yourself (DIY) e-commerce platform, to its small office/home office (SOHO) and small and medium enterprises (SME) customers. The service will be offered via Airtel's cloud platform, and will enable the company's customers to create and launch their own e-commerce sites.

The platform is the latest addition to Airtel's software as a service (SaaS) portfolio, which is host to a bouquet of services (on a cloud enabled platform) like ERP, Tally, accounting packages and CRM management. The Shopify platform is powered by Airtel's internet products like DSL and ILP, and according to the company, its key benefits include:

End-to-end e-commerce platform for as low as Rs 818 per month.

Over 100 customisable site templates to choose from.

Integration to major payment gateways.

Enables social media integration with $50 (Rs 3,112) worth Facebook credit (used to purchase virtual items on the social networking site).

Search engine optimisation (SEO) and email marketing.

Inventory management and analytics to track, measure and upsell products.

In addition, according to Airtel, its internet products and Shopify's content delivery network will ensure the website's load time is quick from anywhere, anytime.

"In India, today only 5 per cent of SMEs have been able to expand on the digital platform. Airtel's data solutions such as DSL, ILP, 3G and 4G bundled with Shopify will offer all the features needed to host an e-commerce platform (such as built in m-commerce shopping cart, payment gateways and social media integration), which will be backed with requisite logistic support," read an official statement from the company.

shopifyFounded in 2006, Shopify offers a professional online storefront, a payment solution to accept credit cards, and the Shopify point of sale (POS) application to power retail sales. According to the company, its platform currently powers over 70,000 retailers in 100 countries, including Tesla Motors, Gatorade, Forbes, Amnesty International, Encyclopedia Britannica and CrossFit. It has received $22 million in Series A and B funding to date, from investors like Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, Felicis Ventures, and Georgian Partners.

Earlier this year, online marketplace GetitBazaar had partnered with Shopify to offer the company's platform to its (GetitBazaar's) merchants. Shopify had entered India in partnership with SingTel.

Other DIY e-com platforms in India

Delhi-Based startup BigFoot Retail Solutions Pvt Ltd, which owns and operates, a DIY e-commerce platform for Indian SMEs and retailers, had raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from 5ideas Startup Superfuel and 500 Startups in July 2013.

Prior to that, Goa-based PowerStores E-Commerce Pvt Ltd, which owns and operates PowerStores, a DIY e-commerce platform that allows anyone to create an online store in a short time, had raised $2 million from a Hong Kong-based investor.

Other players that offer similar DIY platforms include Zepo and Infibeam's BuildaBazaar. Online payment company PayU India had also launched (in April 2013) PayUPaisa, a web-based product that enables small and medium sellers to put their stores online in minutes and transact through the PayU gateway.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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