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Slow and steady wins the race… Not

 Dominick Rodrigues |  2016-06-05 18:21:58.0  |  New Delhi

Slow and steady wins the race… Not

India’s wait for buying groceries online became easier through AskMeGrocery portal tying up with 10 popular brands in Mumbai as part of the company’s commitment in promoting local brands and help scale their business.

 “With two lakh Stock Keeping Units (SKU) nationally on our portal and delivery within four to six hours since we started pan-India in September 2015, we are fostering an ecosystem to cater to the huge demand through such brand alliances”, Ankit Jain, co-founder, AskMeGrocery, said.

The portal began from Delhi and spread to 38 cities. It plans expansion to 80 cities by the end of the year, while registering one billion searches per month and an average of 20,000 orders daily. In May 2016, AskMeGrocery was awarded ‘Emerging Retailer of the Year’ award at the India Retail Congress 2016, organised by Franchise India.

 Research showed that India’s online grocery market is set to be an Rs 2.7 billion market by 2019. The grocery segment commands 60 per cent share of the total market value of the Indian retail market. “Consumers are not shying away from trying new products that are conveniently available online, and we have a rigorous three-point quality control check for products assurance while growing our business between Rs 1800 crore and Rs 2,000 crore soon.

 We tied up with Mother Dairy recently for supply of fresh fruits and vegetables and will be doing this in Mumbai as well,” he said, adding: “In online versus kirana, online offers convenience, comparison, no unwanted buying, wider range and more deals. However, we are not against kirana stores, but rather for the store-owners to build kirana firepower.” 

“AskMeGrocery, which is part of the AskMe group that was founded in 1986 and is at the forefront for championing the cause of the SME community in India, runs on a pioneering and capital light business model with no inventory, no warehouse and no delivery vehicles involved, while being designed as a modular model with good margins and highly scalable where buyers have no minimum order value but get lowest prices”, Jain said while pointing out, “while sellers on the portal have absolute control over product price and no worry about investing in logistic for product delivery to customers”.

Maharashtra became the first state in India to use E-SBTR (Electronic Secured Bank Treasury Receipt), an example of e-technology when Union Bank of India recently launched the single window payment facility of both stamp duty and registration fee without any ceiling on 24.7 basis through Internet banking.

 Vinod Kathuria, Executive Director, Union Bank, said Rs 21,700 crores was being collected earlier in the manual/personal method of payment for stamp duty and other work, and with the introduction of the E-technology, 65 lakh transactions worth Rs 13,742 crores had been done in a one-hour process instead of the normal two days time. Dinesh Kumar Rajan, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Finance said, “while people could now pay E-revenue online even from their homes, the Maharashtran government was now looking at computerising its Transport Department and going ‘paperless’. Land records have been computerised in all rural areas of Maharashtra and 100 per cent registration is being done online”.

Mahindra & Mahindra Finance recently launched its latest financial services through public issue of unsecured subordinated redeemable Non-Convertible Debentures (NCDs) of Rs 1,000 each for Rs 250 crores, with an option to retain oversubscription upto Rs 750 crores aggregating upto Rs 1,000 crores. 

The funds – from the public issue  which opened May 25 to close June 10 – raised through this Tranche I issue will be used for onward lending, financing and refinancing the indebtedness of the company, long-term and working capital and general corporate purposes, said Ramesh Iyer, vice-chairman and managing director, M&M Finance, adding that the future focus was on rural market while eyeing good monsoon this year.

 “This is another financial conclusion approach and the idea is to also reach the retail customer while fulfilling market demands. About 17-18 per cent of our portfolio is in tractors where about 70 per cent rural population depends on farming income, though our NCDs will also focus on SMEs and commercial vehicles segment,” he said, while describing NPAs as “timing mismatch” and not necessarily “credit write-offs.”

Birla Sunlife launched its unique BSLI SecurePlus Plan – a non-participating traditional insurance plan that provided customers with a guaranteed second income (during payment period) – which is twice the annual premium paid along with a life cover. Pankaj Razdan, MD and CEO, Birla SunLife Insurance said, “this plan provided both security of life cover and guaranteed income, twice the premium paid and also having a built-in accidental death benefit while helping customers multiply their money”. 

After 2009, financial markets showed fall in the insurance industry, despite millions of people still needing insurance and such products not reaching them. “India is witnessing huge requirement for savings products – even as interest rates head south – and we came out with a Capacity Sustainability Mode’ in a cluster approach designed to solve people’s problems through counseling and empowerment,” he said.

Meanwhile, for the first time, computer software technology literally promises “hearing to the deaf” through a path-breaking App on android and iOS platforms. “This Q+ app, launched by Quadio Devices Pvt Ltd, is a one of its kind free holistic mobile-based hearing solution that is ultra advanced, affordable, accessible, controllable and customisable in using latest Internet and mobile technology to push the boundaries of telemedicine and hearing care while merging the worlds of healthcare and technology”, said Anurag Sharma, co-founder and CTO, Quadio Devices.

 While hearing loss is the second-largest disability in India affecting over 120 million people where majority of sufferers are over the age of 60, the country has less than 2,000 practicing audiologists and most people never receive treatment until their hearing has degraded severely with age, Sharma said this Q+ app could be accessed by anybody with a smartphone. 

“India has three of the four noisiest cities in the world and by 2025; over 900 million will be hearing-affected. The American Medical Association has linked hearing loss to depression, and today’s lifestyle choices and noise pollution is affecting the youth. So our focus is to provide technological solutions to disrupt the hearing care industry through this game-changer high quality, low cost app which would be free for three months before being charged for either of the two versions, costing Rs 500 and Rs 5,000, for one-time downloading,” said Neeraj Dotel, CEO, Quadio Devices, said while noting that 60 per cent Indians have invisible hearing loss and need hearing aids.

 “We are relying on NGOs and others to provide the last-mile care. It took us one-and-half year to build this model and we are a startup that will be having a turnover of Rs 3 crores by 2016 end,” he added.

The Tata Group launched its E-commerce portal – TataCLiQ.com – as a first-of-its-kind multi-brand Phygital E-commerce marketplace to provide both online and in-store shopping experience for discerning customers of top including international brands across apparel, electronics and footwear categories. The online services would cover 500 plus stores of 12 partner brands in 6,856 pin codes across 689 cities and towns, 23 states and two union territories. 

Cyrus P Mistry, Chairman, Tata Sons, inaugurated the portal while noting that currently there are only 30 million regular online shoppers in India, which has immense potential to bring the next 100 million an offering that builds from their current path to purchase rather than expecting them to change their behavior.

 The E-commerce market is still at a nascent stage and shopping is converging across 44 per cent people researching online and buying products online, 51 per cent researching online and purchasing in stores and 17 per cent visiting stores and purchasing online.

In another Tata offering, Tata Sky, which is a Joint Venture between the TATA Group and 21st Century Fox recently introduced a Kids’ showcase, an exclusive array of kids-based cinema, highlighting over 40 national and international films catering to children of age four to 14 years. Paolo Agostinelli, Chief Content and Business Development Officer, Tata Sky said, “this new showcase service will air children’s films selected with the help of eminent children’s content curator, Monica Wahi, who is the founder of South Asian Children’s Cinema Forum and curate kids’ content at festivals such as The Mumbai Film Festival. 

The Kids Showcase will run movies all day back-to-back where children can watch what they like on both the television and the Tata Sky Mobile App. With a bouquet of 21 kids’ channels, and four unique interactive services, Tata Sky currently has a presence in over 50,000 towns with over 15 million connections.” 

On the power front, PowerGrid Corporation of India Limited announced its PAT (Profit After Tax) crossing Rs 6,000 crore for the first time, with net profit of Rs 6,027 crore (21 per cent growth) and a 20 per cent turnover growth with Rs 21,281 crore for FY 2015-2016. I S Jha, Chairman and Managing Director said, “The company achieved highest ever yearly capitalisation of Rs 31,788 crore and today every corner of India has its transmission lines and substations where 45 per cent power generated in the country passes through PowerGrid”.

 He added that the company had signed 13 joint ventures with other companies and had added 33 per cent of transmission infrastructure (13,717 km) in this financial year. Besides the main reason for power congestion in the Southern region being rejection of costly power supply, major constraints occurring were forests lands in the path of transmission coverage, which now had compensatory afforestation in the TBCB projects. 

The company has also been assigned work on transmission system for Ultra Mega Solar Parks in seven states (UP, MP, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Meghalaya) where implementation has commenced. In the international arena, the company has extended its footprint to 18 countries in Asia, Africa and CIS countries.

Dominick Rodrigues

Dominick Rodrigues

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