It is a typical Wednesday summer evening in Delhi. Hot. Dry. Crowded. The place is Sarita Vihar. Specifically, a Red Tape store.
On the face of it, it doesn’t look like a busy day. But just then, a 30-something-year-old man walks into the store and starts looking at shoes. He is smartly dressed. In jeans and a shirt. He mumbles something about needing a size 10. The salesman points to a rack stacked with shoes and steps back. The man looks at the merchandise. Likes one. Picks it. Turns it over. Nods. Takes his phone out, taps on the Paytm* app, scans the Paytm QR code kept next to the shoes on the rack. It says: “Get exciting offers on sports shoes!” The app registers that this is the Sarita Vihar store. The man then picks the shoe he wants and taps the icon: Buy for… almost immediately, a code is generated. Incoming: Text message, email, and of course, the exact code on the app itself. The man walks over to the billing counter and repeats the code. The guy at the counter feeds the code into the system. All clear. The salesman packs the shoes neatly in a box and hands it over to the man. Nobody says anything. The man walks out of the store.
It would be fair to say that the Red Tape store in Sarita Vihar is seeing a slew of such customers.
This, of course, is Paytm Mall’s new business idea and the company’s latest adventure, offline-to-online (O2O).
Human beings are complex animals. Technology companies chasing Gross Merchandise Value (GMV), more so. And this is not to be said lightly. Because in a normal world, this is how the above transaction would have unfolded. Man enters shop. Picks a shoe he likes. Pays at the counter. Either in cash, or with a debit or credit card. Picks the shoe. Fin.
But, where’s the fun in that?
If more and more Indians are to shop online, beyond the 50-60 million urban consumers who currently already do, Paytm believes O2O is the way forward. And if there’s one company which can truly make digital commerce happen, across the length and breadth of the country, Paytm believes it is them. This is that story. The story of Paytm’s billion-dollar bet on Paytm Mall. Only last month, Paytm Mall raised $450 million (Rs 3,000 crore) from the company’s existing investors, Japan’s SoftBank Group and China’s Alibaba Group Holdings.
Another matter altogether that before Mall, there was wallets. And there, first, let’s get the dead out of the way.
Mobile wallets are dead. Long live mobile wallets!
Second, let’s ask the question, so what’s next? What next when you have spent a significant part of your organisational history solving for how to incentivise users to use wallets.