While Amazon and Flipkart are battling it out for India's top online retail spot, Snapdeal, the country's third most popular e-commerce website, has been in news more for losing ground. It was reported earlier this year that the company had lost market share in the previous year, with competitors such as Shopclues and PayTM, along with Amazon, being the main beneficiaries of that loss.
Snapdeal has revamped operations since then and in September it unveiled a new look, sporting a new logo and a new tagline, 'Unbox Zindagi'.
Whereas on the front-end, Snapdeal reportedly spent almost ₹200 crore on re-branding, on the back-end it underwent a technology revamp. In the thick of all this activity was the company's CTO, Rajiv Mangla.
In early September, Snapdeal launched its own cloud service called Cirrus. The aim behind this was to invest more in innovation and better handle traffic. Cirrus was built using OpenStack solution, which means that all the software used to make it was free and open-sourced. The solution is hosted on the hybrid cloud -- a mix of local or on-premise storage, company's own cloud and a third party cloud service such as Amazon.
"This is the world's largest OpenStack implementation of hybrid cloud," Mangla told HuffPost India. "Our solution was hosted on services such as Amazon Web Service. But it was proving costly for us as we scaled ahead. Apart from that, there are many limitations on third-party clouds. So that was holding us back in terms of innovation."
"Some of our core services are still hosted on the third party cloud, so while we innovate, the customer shouldn't feel that there are many operational hindrances," he added.
Some years ago when Flipkart launched its first iteration of the Big Billion Day sale, a major problem it faced was server outage. Snapdeal has had to confront similar issues on big sale days. So, this year they wanted to be ready.
"We have been working on the infrastructure since a year to handle 10X more traffic on the day of sales," Mangla said. "It is frustrating for everyone when there are server error messages on the screen."
Snapdeal has had a successful Diwali sale that lasted from 1 to 5 October. While Flipkart and Amazon sold over 15 million units, Snapdeal managed to sell over 11 million units. According to reports, the gross sale was worth ₹1,700 crore.
And, while historically Snapdeal has been rated low in customer satisfaction and service, a recent report suggests that it delivers products the fastest.
Mangla pointed out that a lot of thinking has to go behind rebranding and streamlining logistics. For instance, while creating solutions for warehouses and logistics, the team is in constant touch with the ground staff to ensure that the changes make the life easier for them.
"We show them videos and take feedback before launching the app or the solution," he explained. "We also reach out to them every few days after the roll-out to make sure that they are comfortable with it."
The company is also working heavily on mapping solutions. It arranges warehouses according to the demand and trends from different areas to achieve faster delivery. Besides using its own data, it has tied up with third party map data providers as well to improve last-mile services.
Another focus for the company is in low Internet connectivity areas. Last year it launched a Snapdeal Lite website for the benefit of customers on slower networks.
"Our aim is to give the best personalisation and experience," Mangla said. "Our path is to build quality apps, thinking what will be the best when every citizen in India has a 4G connection."
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