Indian Startups Vie to Win e-Commerce Battle

Venture-backed Indian e-commerce firms struggle to turn a profit in a country fraught with logistical obstacles

The Wall Street Journal
iStock ecommerce 562a44c55d239

Madurai, IndiaOct. 23, 2015—The future of India’s booming e-commerce market is in the hands of small-time customers like 27-year-old Gayathri Rajamansingh.

Each Sunday, the owner of a small hair salon browses the Shopclues website from her home, hunting for bargains. Recently, she fixed on a floral-print sari, a traditional Indian one-piece garment, and clicked buy now.

Ms. Rajamansingh’s impulse purchase of the 199 rupee ($3.06) sari set in motion a logistical operation that is complex and costly. Delivering the item involved a three-day, roughly 1,200-mile journey from Surat, in the western state of Gujarat, to her home in Madurai, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. More than 30 people moved the package, through two overnight truck journeys, a long-haul flight and, finally, a motorbike to her doorstep.

It cost Shopclues 45 rupees to deliver the sari to Ms. Rajamansingh or about a quarter of the item’s price.

To read the full story, please click here.