Friday, 14 April 2017

The Idea No Entrepreneur Can Afford to Ignore

Experts have already started writing the obituary of Indian e-commerce companies like Flipkart and Snapdeal. They say that these companies have survived so far due to the access to venture capital. These companies don’t make profits and burn their capital at an alarming rate. They also tend to undercut competition by selling stuff at less than what it actually costs. This has led to the closure of many brick-and-mortar stores. 

The early signs of the demise of these companies are also visible. With diminishing valuations and increasing retrenchments, e-commerce companies are in news for all bad reasons. Yet these companies, in my view, won’t just survive; they are also going to become even more crucial with time.

How? Because these companies are all about the new way of doing business. I remember the times when I had to go to multiple stores to find the book I wanted. Let alone having the book, most shopkeepers had no idea of it. Then I came across Flipkart, which had started off lately and sold books. I also came across Infibeam, Rediff books and Bookadda. Soon, getting a book wasn’t so painful. E-commerce solved my problem. Now if it led to the closure of bookstores, I don’t find anything bad in it because bookstores weren’t fulfilling consumer needs. They had become complacent and stopped evolving. They eventually met their destiny.

It’s not about just books. E-commerce has changed our lives meaningfully, and many of us can’t imagine a life without it. That’s the true power of any business idea—how deeply ingrained it can get in consumers’ lives. Look at what Ola and Uber are doing to transport. I have recently figured out that travelling by Ola could actually be cheaper than public transport—and more comfortable also. So why not? The lesson for the entrepreneur is not to underestimate e-commerce. By all means, every entrepreneur should embrace it.

It’s true that the e-commerce industry is going through certain hiccups. But that’s normal. Any new idea limps before it takes off. With time, as e-commerce matures, it will make everyone’s lives much better, easier, more comfortable and convenient, including the lives of those who are currently writing its obituary.

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