Move Over, Amazon and Alibaba – India Brings New E-Commerce Talent

With the highly publicized reign of China and the U.S. in the world of e-commerce, analysts predict the two leaders of online shopping to see significant gains in the next few years that will solidify their top positions in online sales. But India is the black horse of the e-commerce world, and is bringing big talent to rival the likes of Amazon and Alibaba.

A new report from re/code shows that Indian e-commerce conglomerates Flipkart and Snapdeal are both rivaling to make their mark on the world’s digital markets. Top online retailer Flipkart announced last Saturday (Dec. 20) that, just months after a $1 billion investment, another $700 million investment landed on its books. Competitor Snapdeal announced a $600 million investment from Japan’s SoftBank last October, several months after eBay offered its own $133 million investment in the company.

The big-cash deals are indicative, reports say, of a market in India with prime conditions to become the next e-commerce behemoth. As the world’s second most populous nation, India has pumped effort and funds into strengthening its Internet infrastructure and, with that, the presence of mobile phones. The devices are crucial for online shopping growth in the nation, experts say; Snapdeal says about one quarter of all of its transactions occurred on a mobile phone at the beginning of this year. By August, that number spiked to 60 percent.

India saw only about $3.2 billion in online sales this year, but experts say e-commerce will grow by 50 percent in each of the next four years.

But the anticipation of a booming online marketplace in India isn’t all bad news for China’s Alibaba and the U.S.’s Amazon. Reports say the companies instead are tapping into the sector – Amazon launched its online marketplace in India in 2013 and announced only months ago it is looking to invest $2 billion into the venture. While Alibaba’s marketplace includes India buyers and sellers, the company’s presence in the nation is lackluster. The company announced last November that it plans to invest more in the nation, but declined to offer specifics on the plans.

So, is an acquisition on the horizon? Could Amazon spend billions to purchase operations in India? Or could Alibaba, with its largest shareholder also being SoftBank, invest in Snapdeal? Reports emerged this week that Alibaba and SoftBank held joint meetings with banks in the nation, but details on those discussions are scarce. Whatever happens, experts agree that all eyes are on India.


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