In a country where the concept of online buying was deemed to fail until a few years ago, seven of the 10 Internet unicorns with valuation above $1 billion today are consumer-facing Internet businesses.

From electronics and fashion to food, travel, healthcare and education, there’s no sector that e-commerce has not touched in India.

In fact, India is the third-fastest growing e-commerce market in the world after China and the US. According to a recent study by research firm Forrester, Indian e-commerce market is projected to touch $64 billion by 2021, growing at a five-year compound annual pace of 31.2%.

The consumer Internet business will likely grow at a fast pace as Internet penetration is increasing, smartphones are becoming ubiquitous and mobile data is getting faster and cheaper.

However, the overall investment scenario is difficult. The number of private investment deals have dropped to 238 in the first quarter of 2017, down 45% from a year earlier and 26% sequentially, according to the Quarterly Deal Report by VCCEdge, the data research arm of News Corp VCCircle. Venture capital deals fared the worst with the number of transactions falling 31% from a year earlier.

The total amount of money invested by private equity firms, venture capital and angel investors fell 27% from a year earlier and 22% sequentially to $3.04 billion in the January-March period.

Private investments, particularly in startups, had started slowing in the last quarter of 2015 as valuations hit the roof and investors worried about the lack of visibility on profits. The trend became more entrenched in 2016, as startup shutdowns and valuation markdowns made matters worse.

It’s at this critical juncture of India’s e-commerce story that News Corp VCCircle is organising the 9th E-commerce Summit on Friday in Mumbai.

The event will have the best of minds from the industry engage in debates and interactions on a bunch of topics ranging from the rise of new business models to customer-centric unit economics, investments, valuation, consolidation, exits and more. It will bring together an impressive line-up of entrepreneurs, angels, VC and PE investors who have helped transform the e-commerce landscape in India.

The biggest event on e-commerce in the country will also feature attractive platforms for investors and entrepreneurs to connect wherein a set of handpicked innovative startups will have the opportunity to make an elevator pitch to select jury of angel investors, houseful of VCs and fellow entrepreneurs.

Representing the e-commerce sector will be the likes of Falguni Nayar, CEO, Nykaa.com; Sandeep Aggarwal, founder, Droom.in; Ambareesh Murty, founder and CEO, Pepperfry.com; Saurabh Kochhar, CEO and co-founder, Foodpanda; Chinmay Agarwal, co-founder and chief technology officer, Jugnoo; and Pankaj Naik, co-head of digital and technology investment banking practice, Avendus Capital Pvt Ltd.

The summit will also host some of the top investors in India’s e-commerce sector as speakers including the likes of Anshu Prasher, director, InnoVen Capital India Pvt. Ltd; Navin Honagudi, investment director, Kae Capital; Rajinder Balaraman, vice president, Matrix Partners; Rutvik Doshi, director, Inventus Capital Partners; and angel investor Sanjay Mehta.

There is little doubt that e-commerce has been a consistent performer in the Indian Internet market over the year. And it is now penetrating rural areas, a vast opportunity that’s slowly opening up.

The country is likely to receive investment of $6-8 billion by e-commerce companies in logistics, infrastructure and warehousing in the next few years, reveals an Assocham-PwC study.

According to an estimate by Morgan Stanley, last year’s e-commerce sales were around $16 billion with chances of the market expanding up to seven times.

Clearly, the e-commerce sector is going to be a significant contributor to the country’s economy, especially after implementation of reform measures such as the new foreign direct investment policy and the goods and services tax that will bring uniformity in indirect taxes nationwide.

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