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Paytm Mall rejigs team to focus on ‘Offline to Online ’
Posted on 29th January 2019
NEW DELHI & BENGALURU: Paytm Mall, the ecommerce arm of Paytm Group, is undertaking a significant restructuring of its top and mid-level executive teams, amid speculation that the firm plans to focus on catering to its merchant ecosystem through B2B category and on offline-to-online consumer businesses.

The Alibaba Group and SoftBank backed company has moved Sudhanshu Jain, chief financial officer of Paytm Bank, as the financial comptroller of the online business, company executives have said.

Paytm Mall has also brought on board Bharti Balakrishnan, senior director with Alibaba Group, to lead certain unstructured categories including fashion, home and kitchen, while Varun Gupta, a three-plus-year veteran at the company, has been elevated to lead its groceries vertical. Sirinivas Mothey is now the firm’s chief marketing officer.

Meanwhile, Saurabh Vashishtha and Amit Bagaria, both senior vice presidents who had been tasked to lead critical functions such as marketing and customer acquisitions, have quit Paytm Mall, company executives said.

The developments come at a time when there have been reports that Paytm — which at one point was gearing up to challenge market leaders Amazon India and Walmartowned Flipkart — is looking to scale down, or even completely exit its consumer-facing business, and will, going forward, focus more on the wholesale and O2O (online-to-offline) segments, due to a combination of mounting losses and inability to close the gap with market leaders.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm, denied the speculations that the firm was considering options to exit B2C business, but disclosed that Paytm Mall will increasingly focus on its O2O business, going forward.

“We will focus on expanding on our O2O success,” he told ET. “Small shops and sellers have unprecedented opportunity to expand online. Our O2O technology suite and mall as consumer destination will give them necessary support to expand to new consumer base,” he said.

“Majority of our business is expected to come from our O2O (delivery from local store), 15% wholesale and 35% from warehoused items,” Sharma said. According to him, the Mall platform expects to hit $2 billion in gross merchandise sales this year.

Raghu Chakravarthi has joined the retailer from leading online grocery retailer BigBasket to build the company’s O2O tech stack.

Paytm Mall's O2O strategy, which is straight out of Tmall, parented by its largest investor Alibaba in China, is primarily to play catch-up with bigger ecommerce players such as Flipkart and Amazon India.

In November, ET had reported that Paytm had set up a wholesale entity for its ecommerce business, joining the likes of market leaders Flipkart and Amazon who have increasingly leveraged their wholesale businesses in recent years.

Paytm Wholesale Commerce was incorporated in September with a share capital of Rs 20 crore, regulatory filings show. The shares have been subscribed to Paytm Ecommerce, the entity which runs Paytm Mall.

The filing said the objective of the company is to “carry on the business of buying, selling, reselling, importing, exporting...of goods and luxury brands on a wholesale and B2B basis”.

For the year ended March 2018, Paytm Mall recorded revenues of Rs 776 crore and incurred a loss of Rs 1,805 crore. The entity has till date raised about $653 million from Alibaba Group, SoftBank Group and SAIF Partners, among others.

Its last funding round was in June 2018, when it raised Rs. 1,509.1 crore at a valuation of Rs 12,695.9 crore, diluting 11.9%. SoftBank led the round with an investment of Rs. 1,341.5 crore, resulting in a post-round stake of 21.1%. Alibaba Group invested Rs 167.7 crore, resulting in a post-round stake of 46.1%.

Its last funding round was in June 2018, when it raised Rs. 1,509.1 crore at a valuation of Rs 12,695.9 crore, diluting 11.9%. SoftBank led the round with an investment of Rs. 1,341.5 crore, resulting in a post-round stake of 21.1%. Alibaba Group invested Rs 167.7 crore, resulting in a post-round stake of 46.1%.

Paytm was valued at $1.9 billion in April last year, following a $445 million funding round led by Softbank, with participation from Alibaba Group, making it, in the process, one of the fastest to reach the unicorn status.

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