Google trying to propel ecommerce in India

Probably just what India's local merchants needed as global retailers prepare for India operations.

In the past few months, India has seen a huge political battle regarding new policies on investments from foreign companies in Indian retail. Iconic American brand Walmart is caught in the cross-fire, as are companies like Apple & Amazon . While the debate continues with politicians disrupting proceedings in the parliament, Google India has been working on something that will help buyers in India and India's local merchants embrace the Internet.

Under a program called India Get Your Business Online, Google India was offering free websites to interested retailers and earlier today, the company annoucned results of the initiative. Known to many Indians, also a part of several movies, Chandni Chowk in the capital is part of Delhi's (and India's) heritage; several shops of various sizes are part of this market that has existed since the Mughal period. Google helped bring these merchants online.

The website Chandni Chowk Online is essentially a database of shops in the market with their contact details and links to their websites. Most websites are very basic with introductory information about the business. While it isn't a ecommerce store, exposing these local retailers & businesses to the Internet and having a central database for shoppers to refer to, is quite an accomplishment in itself for India. As India prepares itself for bigger brands, it is important for these SMBs to adopt ways to promote themselves; and websites are a necessity today.

This wasn't Google's only announcement. Last week, Google India held an online shopping festival bringing online retailers under one roof for a day. Promoted as the Great Indian Shopping Festival (GOSF), the event gathered a lot of attention but failed to deliver since there were no good deals. In fact, one retailer was selling the iPad at a price higher than the retail price:

There were reports of popular online retailer Flipkart dropping the ball too. For what it's worth, I've seen JC Penny make a similar blunder during last year's holiday sales where a friend bought a jacket a week before at an MRP cheaper than the holiday offer. 

Despite these issues from the retailers, Google's attempt was good and successful at getting the word out and bringing more people to shop online.

(Thumbnail credit: Travel House UK)