The ecommerce market is on the cusp of a major breakthrough that could revolutionise the way we shop.
But it is not without its problems.
As a whole, the Indian ecommerce sector is estimated to be worth $300 billion, but as the country tries to become more competitive with its western peers, a new era of competition is emerging, one that could bring more value for money for companies.
The biggest question mark in this transformation is the future of India’s traditional retailers.
The country’s largest and most well-known retailer, Kotak Mahindra, is now one of India “s most valuable companies”.
But what is it about Kotak that makes it so special?
What is its legacy and how does it fit into a rapidly changing market?
The answer is Kotak is a uniquely Indian brand.
Kotak has been in business since the 1950s, first in the city of Chennai and then in a sprawling array of towns and cities in the state of Tamil Nadu.
In Tamil Nadu, Kotaki had long been known for its distinctive goods and services, which it used to sell at an unbeatable price.
Kotaki was the first to establish a brick-and-mortar outlet, the Kotak Shoppe, which was opened in 1962 in Tamil Nadu’s coastal city, Vizianagaram.
It was the start of the chain of businesses Kotak began in the 1980s.
By the 1990s, Kotaks brand had become synonymous with a diverse range of products, from tea and biscuits to handbags and clothing.
But over the years, Kotakis reputation for being affordable and innovative started to erode as the Indian economy began to struggle, and as a number of other brands in the industry started to falter.
It all started with Kotaki, though.
As part of its transformation from a small brick- and-mortars to a brand that has become the undisputed king of the Indian market, Kotaku acquired the rights to the Kotaki name in 2009, which enabled Kotaki to sell its products in India, as well as to sell them globally.
The move has meant that Kotaki has become synonymous not only with the quality of its products but also with the company’s commitment to innovation.
The Kotaki brand has now become synonymous to the Indian consumer, with consumers looking to Kotaki for their everyday essentials, including shampoo, deodorant and household products, as it has for over a decade.
The success of Kotak, however, has not been without its challenges.
Since it started, KotAK has been under pressure from rivals, who began to challenge the company for its premium-priced goods and offer their own products.
These rivals also sought to gain an advantage over the company by creating competitors that Kotak could not compete against.
For example, in 2012, Kotaker, the largest seller of Kotaki products in the country, was hit with a lawsuit brought by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) alleging that the company had illegally imposed monopoly prices on certain products.
Kotaker had to pay Rs 6,000 crore in damages.
But in a decision issued in 2016, the Supreme Court of India found that Kotaku had no legitimate right to claim monopoly pricing in the first place.
In another landmark case, the NCDRC had earlier awarded a total of Rs 2,000 crores to the company, which had filed a similar case against NCP, accusing it of illegal monopoly pricing.
But the Supreme High Court of Delhi (SHL) in 2017 had held that there was no valid claim against Kotak and ordered the company to pay only Rs 2 lakh in damages to the NCLC.
Kotak’s future is now uncertain.
Despite the recent Supreme Court decision, Kotakers future looks bright.
“We feel the government is listening to the market and recognising the importance of making the country more competitive,” said Arun Mishra, Kotaka’s head of corporate affairs.
“This is a positive sign.
Kotaks future looks brighter.
We are ready to deliver on the promise of our brand to the people of India.”
But the next big step will be for Kotak to find a new customer.
“The consumer will need to find out the brand through a physical experience.
The retail sector is in a great transition now,” said Mishra.
“There is a need to make our products available to the widest possible consumer base.”
For Kotak’s business, the biggest challenge lies ahead of it.
The company is currently in the process of acquiring more than 30 smaller brands, which will make it the biggest brand in India.
“Retail is a very tough business in India right now.
We have to focus on making Kotak more competitive and appealing to the consumer,” said Vishal Kapoor, Kotake’s chief marketing officer.
“With the acquisition of such brands, we will have a stronger brand presence across the country. “