Sunday, June 23

Funding Squeeze Causing Stricter Evaluation of E-commerce Models

A tightening funding environment has prompted Indian e-commerce ecosystem to adopt stricter evaluation norms for business models, with focus on profitability and consolidation, a report said.

“We believe this (e-commerce) shake-up may intensify further, leading to the emergence of one or two strong companies within each sub-sector,” said the research report by Kotak Institutional Equities.

A lack of fresh funding as well as stricter focus on profitability by investors is leading to swift business model changes by companies, it said.

Further, the current wave of consolidation among e-commerce players may intensify, leading to fewer, stronger players emerging within each category.

“Low valuations may prompt brick-and-mortar companies to take over some e-commerce rivals, in a bid to make an online presence for themselves like Titans purchase of Caratlane and Future Retails purchase of Fabfurnish,” it said.

Further, recent government regulations clamping down on discounts and dependence on single large vendors may necessitate further changes in strategy and could impact sales growth in the near term, the report added.

The hyper-valuations seen in successive funding rounds in 2014-15 also seem to be correcting, it said.

Fidelity had marked down its holding in Flipkart by about 40 per cent as of February 2016 (compared to August 2015), implying that the firms valuation may now be significantly lower than peak valuation of USD 15.2 billion attained in 2015.

Valuation of Rocket Internets Global Fashion Group (parent company of Jabong) plummeted by about 67 per cent during its last fund raise in April 2016, while Fabfurnish was acquired by Future Group at a substantial discount for USD 3 million, the report noted.

The report also indicated that hyper-local category seems to be the worst-hit among e-commerce players.

Companies like grocery delivery firm PepperTap shut its delivery business and is focusing only on logistics, while delivery company Roadrunnr has merged with food-ordering app Tinyowl.

Several other portals such as Foodpanda, Jabong and Housing are also reportedly on the block, it noted.