Local Commerce is quite the buzzword in Silicon Valley today. From startups such as Foursquare and Groupon that were posterchilds of the US tech industry before becoming the ignored foster children to sustainably successful companies such as Yelp, the local commerce space is still open to innovation and disruption. In India, while clones of Groupon and Yelp have abounded, the models that will succeed will definitely be different than in the U.S. This is largely due to the fact that local commerce has traditionally existed in very different forms in both these countries. So its hard to take inspiration from theU.S. in imagining how the local commerce game might play out in India.
JustDial has been the major success story in the local commerce space in India, but beyond that, there aren’t any bigwigs to speak about. Local classifieds such as Quikr and Olx continue to battle it out over TV and radio and outdoor hoardings, with constant appeals to either “Olx pe bech de” or “Photo khench, Quikr pe bech”. Groupon India continues to move along nicely – while players like Snapdeal that started out with local deals have moved on to greener pastures like e-commerce.
The factors that determine the success or failure of players in local commerce have been written about but there is still not a deep understanding of the models that are likely to succeed in India. Some factors that I think will be critical are:
1) Aggregating content that doesn’t exist elsewhere (like JustDial managed to do over the last decade)
2) The ability to provide the users unparalleled convenience (the way JustDial does when you call them anytime!)
3) The local retailers will have to be included, not excluded, from such a model.
4) Successful models will be built on the mobile platform, not on the web.
5) The closer the models get to closing the loop, the higher the likelihood of success.