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E-com players gear up for record festive sales as India reopens

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New Delhi, Oct 1: Amid the pandemic last year, Indian shoppers helped e-commerce platforms clock $7.4 billion (about Rs 52,000 crore) in total gross merchandise value (GMV) during the festive months (October-December). This year, as retail shops reopen and Covid cases slow down, Indians are expected to buy goods worth a whopping $9 billion (Rs 64,000 crore) across online platforms.

Strong online festive sales are expected despite offline opening up to nearly pre-Covid levels and in the first festive week alone — that starts from October 3 with Flipkart’s ‘Big Billions Day’ (BBD), Amazon’s Great Indian Festival and Reliance Group’s online fashion e-retailer Ajio as main players — e-commerce players are expected to clock sales worth $4.8 billion (Rs 33,600 crore) which is a 30 per cent increase from last year, according to latest data from Bengaluru-based market research firm RedSeer.

In 2020, e-commerce platforms clocked almost $3.7 billion (about Rs 25,900 crore) in GMV in the first week of festive sales.

Ahead of the festive season, Amazon India has significantly expanded its operations network. It has increased storage capacity by 40 per cent with more than 60 fulfilment centres in 15 states, offering 43 million cubic feet to its sellers.

It now has more than 1,850 delivery stations, both owned and operated by Amazon as well as delivery service partners, to further its direct reach, including in remote towns.

“Our continued investments in infrastructure across our fulfilment and delivery network will enable us to support our customers even better, with the convenience they need and deliver safely with a seamless, fast and reliable experience during the festive season,” said Akhil Saxena, VP, Customer Fulfilment Operations, APAC, MENA and LATAM, Amazon.

Walmart-owned Flipkart said it is connecting more than 5,000 offline branded retail stores from more than 300 cities on its platform. This includes small and large format brand stores offering products from fashion, large appliances, mobiles and consumer electronics.

“We are proud to facilitate pan-India consumer market access for over 5,000 branded retail stores. We look forward to scaling this programme over the next few months and making products from branded retail partners that may be available to a much larger audience across India,” said Rajneesh Kumar, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Flipkart Group.

Reliance Group’s online fashion e-retailer Ajio is also geared up for its ‘Big Bold Sale’ till October 4. The company provides a catalogue comprising over 6 lakh styles from more than 2,500 brands.

According to RedSeer, the growth this year will be mostly driven by the accelerated online adoption, which has been witnessed as an effect of Covid.

“Tier 2+ cities will continue to drive growth as they are 55-60 per cent of the total shopper base this year, similar or higher than 57 per cent in 2020 festive days. On the other hand, as offline retail and mobility is recovering almost upto Pre-Covid levels, this will impact the online festive sales as customers may opt for offline shopping as well,” the report noted.

While mobiles will continue to dominate driven by new launches, electronics are expected to see the second highest demand driven by the wide range of selection, easy payment options including EMIs and Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), among other factors.

Additionally, fashion is also expected to see a steady recovery this festive season with greater outdoor mobility of consumers and steady rebound of fashion and office wear.

“We believe that the 2021 online festive sales will continue to ride on strong tailwinds of greater consumer digital adoption supported by an increasingly positive macro and consumption sentiment post the Covid second wave has passed,” said Mrigank Gutgutia, associate partner at RedSeer.

Nearly 80 per cent of the sellers agree that festive sales will play a key role in recovery from Covid losses, while 70 per cent agreed that the bigger online players have been supportive and positive which led up to the sales event.

The overall online GMV this year is expected to touch $49-52 billion which is around 37 per cent growth from last year, primarily driven by strong consumer funnel expansion and the high adoption of online shopping post-Covid across the categories.

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realme expands India footprint, opens 100 exclusive retail stores

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New Delhi, Oct 8: Smartphone brand realme on Friday announced a new milestone with the launch of 100 new exclusive stores pan India.

All of these stores will have the latest products from the realme TechLife ecosystem, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other gadgets.

“I am proud of achieving this new milestone, as it testifies to our capability to meet consumer needs despite all odds and challenges during the pandemic period. We will continue to maintain the strong pace of mainline expansion and deepen consumer experience. The love we have received from our users has made us more enthusiastic and energetic towards this offline expansion,” Madhav Sheth, Vice President, realme and CEO, realme India, Europe and Latin America said in a statement.

realme has focused on offline expansion into Tier II and Tier III cities. realme will also open its flagship store in Gujarat, where customers can experience a smart and connected life through smart gadgets.

The smartphone maker has set targets to unveil 300 realme exclusive stores by 2021 and expand it to 1000+ stores by 2022.

realme led the India market in 5G smartphone shipments, capturing more than 22 per cent share in Q2 2021, as per a report by Counterpoint Research.

The company said that its next goal is to achieve a dual-100 million target — shipping another 100 million handsets by the end of 2022 and completing the same milestone within the 2023 calendar year.

According to Counterpoint, realme took the sixth spot with 15 million shipments and 135.1 per cent year-over-year (YoY) growth in the second quarter of 2021.

Out of 100 million realme users worldwide, 50 million users are from India alone.

Amid the chipset shortage, the company is targeting six million handsets and two million IoT products for the upcoming festive season.

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Android 12 will provide robust enterprise trust and security: Google

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New Delhi, Oct 8: Google has made Android 12 open-source earlier this week and now, the company has said it is focused on helping organisations achieve the right balance between protecting employee privacy and equipping IT with necessary security and controls.

Android 12 introduces user privacy enhancements for all managed devices, including improved transparency of admin controls.

“Work profile users will be able to approve (if allowed by their IT admin) or deny sensor-related permissions, such as location and camera, to work profile apps. On fully-managed devices, IT admins can choose to give their users this same control,” Google said in a statement late Thursday.

To further protect user privacy, admins will be able to set up WiFi networks for employees through a new network API that doesn’t require user location permissions.

Hardware device IDs for personal devices have also changed.

“Now, instead of solely hardware-based identifiers, companies can use a combination of hardware and employer-specific identifiers that help preserve employee privacy if they leave their organisation,” said Google.

For Android 12, Google has added additional controls to help enterprise IT teams reduce security risks and ensure tighter monitoring of business data.

A key addition is network logging for the work profile, to give organisations added control and reporting for their work data, while still protecting user privacy in the personal profile.

“We’re also empowering IT to decide what input method editors (IMEs) employees can use in their personal profiles to reduce the risk of using a rogue keyboard that could capture data on the device. IT will also have the ability to disable USB signaling for anything but charging, reducing the risk of USB-based attacks,” the tech giant explained.

Admins can now easily set password requirements that meet modern security best practices by choosing between pre-set password complexity levels.

IT admins will also have the option to slice their 5G network and dedicate connectivity to all apps on a fully-managed device, or specifically to apps in the work profile.

“In partnership with their carrier, admins will be able to have wider control over quality of service and security of work data,” Google noted.

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Bitcoin reclaims $1 trillion cap, Indian crypto players cheer

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New Delhi, Oct 8: As Bitcoin once again reclaimed the $1 trillion market cap, crossing $54,000 per digital coin, Indian crypto leaders on Thursday expressed hope that India and its neighbouring countries will continue their dominance because of the large number of active crypto investors in the region.

The Indian cryptocurrency market is expected to reach up to $241 million by 2030 in India and $2.3 billion by 2026 worldwide.

According to a report by IT industry’s apex body Nasscom, there are 15 million retail investors in India investing in the cryptotech space.

“The recent jump in Bitcoin price has a larger message for the world. In the post-pandemic world, Bitcoin has emerged as the best performing asset class of 2021, as a result of which institutional and retail investors are moving from slow/traditional assets to high growth/technology-led assets,” said Shivam Thakral, CEO, BuyUcoin.

There has been a paradigm shift in the investment patterns across the globe which is underlined by the data shared by crypto exchanges from time to time.

“India is home to around 1.5 crore active crypto investors, which amounts to $40 billion in investment in crypto, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. India’s middle-class population is willing to explore digital assets for creating long-term wealth to fulfil their goals, which may not be possible through any other asset class,” Thakral added.

Crypto asset exchange ZebPay has also launched India’s first global Electronic Over-The-Counter (OTC) Desk for large volume traders and institutional investors globally.

Avinash Shekhar, Co-CEO, ZebPay, said that the company aims to create a robust crypto ecosystem and a multi-faceted business where the needs of both the retail and institutional investors are met seamlessly.

“With the ZebPay OTC Desk, we are addressing the growing institutional interest in crypto globally and in India. This will further encourage adoption of crypto in the country and help create a mark for India as a major player in this emerging space,” he added.

Jay Hao, CEO, OKEx.com, said that during the slight dip last month, crypto-related investments witnessed record inflows owing to the growing global acceptance of crypto assets.

“The same momentum is boosting the prices of other popular crypto assets like Ethereum, Dogecoin and Shiba Inu, among others. India and its neighbouring countries are the main growth drivers of the crypto economy in South East Asia and they will continue their dominance because of the large number of active crypto investors in the region,” Hao noted.

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