New shopping site in town, log on to Indian Railways - The New Indian Express

New shopping site in town, log on to Indian Railways

Published: 01st Sep 2013 10:11:18 AM

The world of online shopping has a new entrant, the Indian Railways.  To leverage its huge user base on train ticketing website, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has tied up with an online shopping company to sell consumer products ranging from bed sheets to shoes, tablets, and jewellery.

The online shopping mall of IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation) website, currently see 12 million train tickets booked every month, became operational this week.

“We have tied up with online shopping company Yebhi to starting a shopping channel. Our website has the largest user base of 2.5 crore people in the country. The IRCTC will provide the front operations, while the backend operations will be provided by the Yebhi,” an IRCTC official told The Sunday Standard.

Under the arrangement between the two, for every product sold through IRCTC, Yebhi will pay certain commission to the railways. We are keeping a watch on the experiment. The profits may flow in slowly, the IRCTC official added.

The e-commerce is expected to be worth over 12 billion US dollars in the next few years.

To lure train ticket booking visitors on the website, the shopping channel is even offering inaugural Rs 2000 discount and up to 85 percent off on various products. The website www.shop.irctc.co.in claims to offer 30,000 products from over 500 brands.  A new user has to log into the site and create a username to start shopping. After the orders are placed, Yebhi with its backend staff would ship the product through courier companies at the users’ doorsteps.

The IRCTC officials say if their online shopping channel catches on, it will change the existing market. Unlike the other online shopping stores, our users are spread over every nook and corner of the country. Currently, the online shopping is limited to metros and urban centres, but the products are likely to reach even villages and smaller towns owing to IRCTC’s presence, an official said.

The IRCTC is upbeat about the new venture. But if the business model starts giving problems, the Railways is set to get flak for the poor services.

As announced by the rail budget, the IRCTC is in the process of upgrading its website to handle more users through its website.  A whopping `100 crore were earmarked to make the site book 7,200 tickets per minute. This has been done to address the problem of the IRCTC website often crashing owing to the rush of users.

After IRCTC was stopped from providing food on the trains, it has started to diversify in other products. The IRCTC website also provides online booking of hotels and air tickets.

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