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Monday, June 25, 2018
Kiranas deliver the goods for ecommerce giants like Amazon, Myntra

Kiranas deliver the goods for ecommerce giants like Amazon, MyntraThe friendly neighbourhood kirana store is getting increasing attention from ecommerce behemoths such as Amazon India and Myntra for handling the last leg of their deliveries.  Ecommerce companies have over the past year significantly scaled up their use of this channel for last-mile delivery, allowing them to reduce their delivery staff or engage them for more advanced tasks. Amazon engages its neighbourhood store network for onethird of its deliveries, and Myntra for about two-thirds, according to industry estimates. 

Amazon’s ‘I Have Space’ (IHS) programme grew 40% year-onyear to 17,500 neighbourhood stores in 225 cities at the end of 2017, wherein it partners with local stores that will deliver products to customers within a 2-4 km radius. 

Flipkart-owned Myntra has expanded its ‘Mensa Network’ to 6,200 stores in 50 cities since it was launched in April last year, and about 60% of its orders are fulfilled through it. Flipkart said its alternative delivery network, which includes Apollo pharmacy stores, handles 20-30% of its deliveries during its peak festive season sales. 

“Unlike what is said about ecommerce impacting the small kirana store, this programme has helped find a new use case for them, where they can also get predictability of revenue,” said Manpreet Ratia, head of supply chain, customer experience and human resources at Myntra. “(Flipkart and Myntra) leverage each other’s capacities. We have shared our learnings from the Mensa Network with Flipkart.” 

The fashion retailer’s neighbourhood store partners earn `15,000 a month on an average, and the income increases in geographies with higher volume of deliveries, he said. Amazon did not disclose how much of its deliveries are handled by its store network. 

REDUCING STAFF COUNT 
The company said it chooses mode of transportation based on variables such as time commitment, past performance and fulfilment cost. Amazon’s store partners deliver 20-30 packages a day, the company said, which is as much as average deliveries handled by last-mile delivery staff. “These local entrepreneurs understand their area well and have immense goodwill in their neighbourhood to efficiently deliver and receive products,” an Amazon India spokesperson said. “Some of these IHS stores also double up as pickup points for our customers.” 

Amazon is set to brand these IHS pickup stores as ‘Amazon Pickup’ for easy visibility, the company said. Akshay Sahi, head of Amazon Prime in India, had told ET in March that the company was looking to spruce up its pickup points to improve the last-mile service for customers as well as discoverability of these pickup points during online checkout. This store network model has also helped the ecommerce companies streamline last-mile delivery staff. 

Amazon has reduced the size of its last-mile delivery staff to 4,000 from 12,000 in 2016, as per industry sources aware of the development, who attributed the decrease also to the company working more with third-party logistics firms. Amazon did not offer a specific comment on this, stating that it had thousands of delivery associates. Myntra said it has been able to divert much of its delivery staff to handle tasks such as try-and-buy orders as well as quality audits during product returns. 

It’s not just kirana stores that ecommerce firms are leveraging. Neighbourhood outlets such as pharmacies, mobile accessories stores, tailoring shops, and laundries are being roped in for lastmile deliveries. Investments in building these networks include operating costs such as employing field staff for delivering and reconciling orders, creating apps and tech for the store partners, and sharing training content on customer management. Industry experts say there could be a larger play for companies such as Amazon in offering financial services such as credit or working loans to kirana stores, as well as providing inventory. 

Ecommerce shipments handled through the neighbourhood store channel increased 7-5% over the last year, according to Guruprasad Srinivasan, president of Dependo Logistics, a subsidiary of Quess Corp. “Overall, about 10% of ecommerce orders are being done through this network, and it is expected to grow,” he said. However, the model may not have worked for everyone. 

Online grocery BigBasket piloted a similar network of partner stores two years ago, called ‘AasPaas’, but discontinued it after seeing little customer traction. “We didn’t find many customers interested in this option and hence we don’t do this now,” said TN Hari, head of human resources at BigBasket. (Source: Economic Times)

Vodafone to invest Rs 8,000 cr in India

Vodafone to invest Rs 8,000 cr in IndiaBritish telecom major Vodafone plans to invest €1 billion or about ₹8,000 crore in the proposed joint venture with Idea Cellular that is expected to be in place this month, according to its annual report. The British telecom operator will look at monetising its stake in Indus Towers if it requires to make additional investment in India in case Aditya Birla group decides to put in additional fund in the proposed merged entity--Vodafone Idea Limited.

British telecom major Vodafone plans to invest €1 billion or about ₹8,000 crore in the proposed joint venture with Idea Cellular that is expected to be in place this month, according to its annual report. The British telecom operator will look at monetising its stake in Indus Towers if it requires to make additional investment in India in case Aditya Birla group decides to put in additional fund in the proposed merged entity--Vodafone Idea Limited.

“Idea’s equity raise of €0.8 billion in January 2018, which Vodafone Group will match at the time the merger closes; combined with other adjustments, we currently estimate a net capital injection into India of up to €1 billion at closing in June 2018,” Vodafone Chief Financial Officer Nick Read said in the annual report. The merger of Vodafone with Idea is in the last leg of government approval in which the British firm is expected to have not more than 47.5 per cent stake.

The merged entity will be the largest telecom operator in India with subscriber base of around 430 million. The company’s financial leverage is currently high on a pro-forma basis. In the event that in the future the joint venture partners decide to put in additional funding, the Group would draw upon the value of its stake in Indus Towers,” Vodafone said.

The company has 42 per cent stake in India’s largest mobile tower firm Indus Towers. Indus Towers paid dividends of 138 million euro to the Vodafone Group during 2017-18. On April 25, 2018, Vodafone, Bharti Airtel Limited and Idea announced the merger of Indus Towers into Bharti Infratel.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone will jointly control the combined company and Vodafone will be issued 783.1 million new shares in the combined company, in exchange for its shareholding in Indus Towers. The Indus Tower -Bharti Infratel deal has given Idea Group the option to sell its full 11.15 per cent shareholding in Indus Towers for cash which would be equivalent to a 29.4 per cent shareholding in the combined company. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Ad council panel upholds Airtel complaint against Reliance Jio

Ad council panel upholds Airtel complaint against Reliance JioThe latest salvo follows complaints that Jio had made earlier made to ASCI about Airtel's speed claims and in courts against its campaign of broadcasting IPL matches in partnership with Hotstar.

The advertising watchdog's fast track panel on complaints has upheld a complaint by Bharti Airtel against Reliance Jio's advertisements that claimed its data network being the best and the largest, and said the ads were misleading by "ambiguity" and "implication".

Upholding other complaints of Airtel, the Fast Track Complaints Panel (FTCP) of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) ruled that Jio's claims of "best entertainment" through television commercials and YouTube ads, was not substantiated.

ET reviewed a copy of the interim ruling.  In a statement issued on Sunday, however, Jio said the advertising panel was yet to take a final decision, and termed Airtel's allegations as "frivolous". "This is another instance of an incumbent dominant operator thwarting every initiative of a new entrant to offer state-of-the-art digital services to Indian consumers," it said. 

It's the latest in a series of fights over advertisements between the two. They are involved in a bitter duel for subscribers in the market through tariffs and other means such as content and other services, besides speed of their networks, where, according to experts, perception is sometimes more important than actuals

In mid-May, Airtel had complained that there was no basis - either through clarification or independent third-party data - for Jio to substantiate its claims made in its advertisements, and, therefore, they were violated ASCI code. There are larger networks than Jio in the world and also those that provide better benefits and are faster in terms of speed, it said.

Airtel alleged that Jio was aiming to entice and lure viewers to subscribe to its network through misrepresentation."This complaint was upheld. The TVC and the YouTube advertisement contravened Chapter 1.4 of the ASCI Code," the panel said on the three separate complaints filed by Airtel against Jio's claims of best and largest network, best entertainment and best post-paid offers.

The observations are interim, with the next date of meeting between the panel and Jio set for June 18.

"The FTCP was of the opinion that 'data consumption' cannot be the parameter to claim 'largest mobile data network'. The infrastructure as well as the number of subscribers, are important parameters for which the complainant provided evidence that China Mobile Ltd has larger number of 4G base stations as well as subscriber base," the panel said. It said the claim refers to only "consumption of data" and not the extent and infrastructure of network. The panel said Jio's claims of offering the "best post-paid offers" was misleading by "omission" since it is not clear what aspect of the advertiser's product was being compared with what aspects of competitors' products.

Jio, however, said the matter was still under discussion with ASCI.

"We believe that the recommendations at this stage do not reflect the submissions made and favourable views expressed by ASCI during the course of discussions. We have followed up with further submissions and clarifications so that the right decision is made," a Jio spokesperson said in response to ET's queries. The latest salvo follows complaints that Jio had made earlier made to ASCI about Airtel's speed claims and in courts against its campaign of broadcasting IPL matches in partnership with Hotstar. 

"Telecom is the new cola in the hands of the new consumer of new India. The category is about speed. And speed is therefore the cutting edge USP. The battle happens here," said brand consultant Harish Bijoor.  "Perception, sadly, is more important than the truth. In the category of the TSP, the perceptual is more important than the real. Therefore, this battle and the war," he said. (Source: ETTelecom)

CCI may suggest changes to Walmart-Flipkart deal

CCI may suggest changes to Walmart-Flipkart dealThe Competition Commission of India (CCI) might recommend structural changes to the proposed $16-billion Walmart-Flipkart deal to address possible competition concerns, according to officials. It might also take cues from a ruling in South Africa with respect to the Walmart-Massmart deal, which was announced in 2010.

Last month, Walmart Inc announced the acquisition of a 77 per cent stake in Flipkart for about $16 billion (₹1.05 lakh crore) in the largest-ever e-commerce deal. The retail giant has approached the CCI for approval, saying the deal does not raise any competition concerns.

However, various trade organisations have opposed the deal. While the CCI is yet to take a call on the Walmart-Flipkart deal, officials said the regulator might order certain structural changes in the proposed transaction to address possible competition concerns. Walmart declined to reply to queries on this.

Officials said the CCI might take a cue from the South African example and might even recommend the setting up of a long-term fund to modernise kiranas going forward besides supporting local manufacturing by SMEs. The fund could work under the aegis of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion along with Walmart representatives to build a robust kiranas development programme wherein the US retailer provides knowledge and resources, they added.

The Competition Commission of South Africa had approved the deal between Walmart and Massmart, but it was challenged later. Subsequently, that country’s Competition Tribunal gave its approval in 2011 for the merger subject to conditions proposed by the two companies.(Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Secret Facebook deals gave some firms special user data access

Secret Facebook deals gave some firms special user data access: reportSocial media giant Facebook had customised data-sharing deal with certain companies giving them special access to user’s records, a media report said today. Some of the agreements, known internally as “whitelists,” allowed certain companies to access additional information about a user’s Facebook friends, the people familiar with the matter said, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
“That included information like phone numbers and a metric called ‘friend link’ that measured the degree of closeness between users and others in their network, the people said,” the daily reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the whitelist deals were struck with companies including Royal Bank of Canada and Nissan Motor Co., who advertised on Facebook or were valuable for other reasons. All the sources for the story were unnamed.Such a news report comes days after it was reported that Facebook had data-sharing partnership with at least 60 device makers,
Facebook said it allowed a “small number” of partners to access data about a user’s friends after the data was shut off to developers in 2015. Many of the extensions lasted weeks and months, Facebook said.

It “isn’t clear when all of the deals ultimately expired or how many companies got extensions,” the daily said. Facebook maintained a “consistent and principled approach to how we work with developers over the course of the past 11 years,” Ime Archibong, Facebook’s vice president of product partnerships, told The Wall Street Journal. He acknowledged that a subset of companies were given extensions beyond May 2015.

“As we were winding down over the year, there was a small number of companies that asked for short-term extensions, and that, we worked through with them. But other than that, things were shut down,” Archibong said. Facebook is already facing severe backlash globally for improperly sharing personal data of up to 87 million people with UK-based Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm, is embroiled in a scandal purportedly over its work for US President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and is alleged to have improperly obtained information from tens of millions of Facebook users to develop political ads.(Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

COMPUTEX 2018 Ends with Great Success

COMPUTEX 2018 Ends with Great SuccessCOMPUTEX 2018, organized by TAITRA, Taiwan External Trade Development Council and TCA, Taipei Computer Association, concluded in great success today, as the five-day event attracted 42,284 international visitors from 168 countries, up almost 1% from last year. According to TRITRA, the top 10 countries or regions with the highest turnout, in order, are: the USA, Japan, China, Hong Kong, S. Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Germany, India, Philippines. COMPUTEX 2018 featured six themes, including “AI”, “5G”, “Blockchain”, “IoT”, “Innovations & Startups”, and “Gaming & VR”. Through a series of exhibitions, forums and procurement meetings, the event connected industry value chains by providing technology companies and startups the best platform for promotion and interaction. Moreover, InnoVEX attracted 17,687 visitors in a short 3-day period, an increase of over 18% from last year.

Key AIoT technologies realizes the smart application roadmaps
As AI technology matures and IoT applications proliferate, two technologies converge and become the rapidly emerging AIoT, and COMPUTEX 2018 responded to this trend. In addition to servers designed for AI computing and big data storage, Gigabyte leveraged software resources of its partners and rolled out a hybrid cloud for AI and data analytics, carrying out the company’s AIoT roadmap into practice. Compal introduced an all-round solution that combines professional advanced design and cloud computing. The company also demonstrated various product lines for smart homes and smart healthcare, offering users a brand new sensory experience that is more personalized. VIVOTEK’s next-generation smart camera with image analysis capabilities and built-in deep learning algorithms can generate added value for the retail sectors, as it can accurately calculate the number of people and the length of time they stay in a shop.

At the COMPUTEX Forum, leading companies shared the latest trends and insights on AIoT as technology propels the global technology industry into a smarter future. Deepu Talla, Vice President and General Manager of Autonomous Machines at NVIDIA, said as AI is adopted in more scenarios, GPU is not just about speeding up supercomputers, but it can also be used in the development of AI to make big changes in the technology industry. In particular, NVIDIA sees great potential for GPU in the manufacturing market. Allan Yang, Chief Technology Officer at Advantech, said since the manufacturing sectors account for an average 30% of GDP in most countries, introducing IoT or AI into smart factories or other smart manufacturing scenarios will increase the world’s overall output value.

With a focus on the latest innovations, InnoVEX sets trends for startup technologies
Exciting visions of smart living were everywhere at InnoVEX this year, as one third of the event’s 388 startup exhibitors from 21 countries demonstrated AI-related technologies or applications. And in response to the rise of “girl power”, the InnoVEX Forum added the theme of “women entrepreneurship” for the first time this year. Adriana Gascoigne, Founder & CEO of Girls in Tech— the world’s first non-profit organization that focuses on millennial women’s roles in technology and as business founders— spoke at the forum and shared her decade-long experience in the technology industry. She said gender diversity at workplace can help teams or companies create better products and services. As only 25% of the workers in the U.S. technology industry are women, she hoped to introduce different resources to support women entrepreneurs in the technology industry, and at the same time increase diversity and possibilities for the industry.

To incubate unicorn companies of world-class caliber and the industry’s next new stars, COMPUTEX 2018 teamed up with private companies and the government to raise a prize pool of US$350,000 for the InnoVEX Pitch Contest. This year’s grand prize was awarded to Bioinspira.

 “Since 1981, COMPUTEX has been an important platform of business matchmaking, brand awareness building and product marketing for companies in Taiwan and abroad. A top-choice for companies to launch epoch-making products, the event continues to lead industry trends as it seeks to build a boarder global technology ecosystem. This year, 1,602 exhibitors from 30 countries showcase a total of 5,015 booths. When the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center Hall 2 is open next year, the scale of this event will be able to increase to accommodate more companies to show the world their best. It will bring more innovative momentum to COMPUTEX as we join companies around the world to demonstrate technology power to disrupt businesses and reinvent lifestyles,” said Ms. Leonor Lin, TAITRA Executive Vice President. (Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

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