Customer engagement start-ups in high demand

E-commerce majors have sought to bring customer engagement companies under their larger fold over the past few years
(From left) EasyRewardz founders Sapan Kadakia, Angad Singh, Soumya Chatterjee and Tejas Kadakia | EXPRESS
(From left) EasyRewardz founders Sapan Kadakia, Angad Singh, Soumya Chatterjee and Tejas Kadakia | EXPRESS

Sprawling e-commerce enterprises, still hankering to scale up their customer bases in a budget-conscious Indian market, have begun ramping up investments in ancillary customer-focused platforms. Especially like those offered by customer rewards and engagement startup EasyRewardz, which saw Walmart-backed Flipkart invest an undisclosed amount for what sources say could be a 20 per cent equity stake. According to the startup, the capital infusion will help it develop new products and expand its operations.

EasyRewardz’ business model and customer base are intrinsically linked to the ecosystem Flipkart, and other e-commerce majors, operate in. Founded by Tejas Kadakia, Soumya Chatterjee, Angad Singh and Sapan Kadakia in 2011, EasyRewardz enables members to manage their loyalty balances across airlines, hotels and shopping programmes from a single dashboard. The investment by Flipkart is only the latest in a series of similar deals in the space over the past few years, as e-commerce majors have sought to bring customer engagement companies under their larger fold.

“Such firms offer a lot of synergies to e-commerce majors, especially since a lot of these rewards are derived from e-commerce transactions. It increases the benefits these firms can derive from loyalty programs, both on the fiscal and customer acquisition side,” said an industry executive. The EasyRewardz deal comes in the wake of the recent acquisition of Bengaluru-based QwikCilver, a gift card technology startup, by Payments startup Pine Labs in March this year for $110 million. One of QwikCilver’s backers before the deal was e-commerce major Amazon.

“We have built a robust and versatile stored value and gift card technology platform. We have also built a strong network and enduring strategic brand relationships with the best brands in India, in the Middle East and in the South-East Asian markets. With Pine Labs, we have the potential and ability to significantly scale the gift card category and drive consumer adoption with novel products and solutions,” QwikCilver’s co-founder and CEO Kumar Sudarsan had said then. Another similar investment in the space came in 2017, when One 97 Communications Ltd, the parent of digital wallet firm Paytm, invested an undisclosed amount in Noida-based mobile loyalty and data analytics startup Mobiquest Mobile Technologies.

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