The much hyped IRCTC shopping site has stoppedworking for the last few days.

When you access the site, it displays a banner saying that the site is under maintenance andfor queries related to booking, cancellations customer is requested to contact at their customer support.I have sent an email to the given email id but there is no response yet.

IRCTC Shopping Site

According to this NextBigWhat story, the site has stopped working for the last 2-3 days. Even their editors are not able to reach both IRCTC and for clarifications.

IRCTC partnered with Yebhi to sell products online across categories. IRCTC has on an average 4 lakh daily users logging on to their website. They might wanted to leverage these users to the online shopping as well. There are more than 2 crore active users on IRCTC platform.

The business standard reports that Yebhi’s contract with IRCTC has expired and they are not ready to extend thecontract. This means there wont be any takers for IRCTC shopping fornow. That could be the reason that the website is down.

IRCTC is the largest eCommerce website in India based on the daily and monthly transactions it handle.

In the last railway budget, the Union minister for Railways, Sadananda Gowda presented that the railways will start shop while you ride program. Railways will partner with eCommerce players to offer dedicated pick up spots at stations. That means passengers can order while travelling and they will be delivered at designated stations before the end of journey.

Yebhi was selected from a list of 3 final bidders and only eCommerce companies with a minimum turnover of more than Rs. 40 crore, a catalog of 500 brands and at least 5 product categories could bid for the tender floated by IRCTC. Yebhi was attracted towards the IRCTC users who are mainly from Tier 2 and 3 cities of India. But unfortunately this marriage did not last longer!

Where did IRCTC went wrong?

For Yebhi, this was an opportunity to get the real-time data of almost 3 crore Indians who buy tickets online and an opportunity to enter the Tier 2 and 3 customers whose data might be missing for other online retailers.

For IRCTC, this was an opportunity to expand their own business units. They are the pioneers of eCommerce in India. Yebhi provided the supply chain and inventory for IRCTC on a revenue sharing basis. Even if this is not their core competency, this was an opportunity for IRCTC and with some innovative technology behind this can help them to enter the untapped markets better than leading online retailers.

IRCTC lacked the basic awareness of eCommerce. We are living in the world of Flipkart and Amazon when they are competing to reach the customers and treat them faster and with better quality. For any eCommerce to be successful, as a user I want the best products to be available, best customer service and the best user experience. IRCTC website has mediocre products when I visited their websites and the lack of trust was one of the biggest factor which made me to be away from that website. A better marketing would have helped them. Because their main asset, the millions of trains running to and fro India are their best marketing tool. The free of cost marketing could have helped them better.

The lack of innovative approach might have caused them to review their strategies. They might reopen the store with better products and a new partner soon. But it all depends on the countries politics as well.

Meanwhile the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises has joined the bandwagon of eCommerce by starting their own online marketplace to connect MSME’s to customers.

MSME Shopping

MSME Shopping powered by NSIC (National Small Industries Corporation) is an online store where MSME’s can directly register and list their products. The idea is to connect these companies with the customers directly thereby creating more visibility to the MSME’s.

The portal can be accessed in 11 languages including English and the other regional languages. The sellers can join the platform by paying a membershipfee of Rs. 5000 plus taxes per annum.

MSME Shopping

The website is simple and the product line is not attractive to normal customers who are used to buy from the established eCommerce players. The platform currently handles only Cash on Delivery. Hopefully they will add payment gateway soon.

Hoping that MSME shopping won’t be another IRCTC shopping site!

Has anyone purchased from IRCTC shopping site? If so how was your experience.

Would love to hear your feedback’s and comments.