IRCTC which is mainly handles online ticketing operations of Indian Railways enters the e-commerce race in partnership with Yebhi.com – an already existing player.
Surprised ? Yes. After having initially revealed its plans to foray into the ex-commerce space back in March, IRCTC has finally made its e-commerce site operational from today – the URL being www.shop.irctc.co.in
IRCTC has partnered with Yebhi.com for the venture and the new website is an exact replica of the actual Yebhi.com website. The similarity does not end here. Looks like the prices and discounts are also the same (including part of the URL).
IRCTC has given backlinks to shop.irctc.co.in from the actual IRCTC website www.irctc.co.in in order to promote referrals to the fledgling e-com website.
Why the entry into Indian e-commerce ?
In the press release, it has been mentioned by the IRCTC Managing Director, R.K. Tandon, that this is one way to monetize the registered user base of more than 2 crores. However the driving reason for this shift is to milk the huge server capacity of IRCTC (which is relatively free for a large part of the day).
Opinion – is this a good move ?
IRCTC, with its huge user base including their demographic data, has the potential to leverage this database into revenue generation. Though this has been the initial plan, currently the e-commerce website does not seem to be using the IRCTC login details. So, it isn’t using the existing logins.
Regarding the server sharing – even this is not being done currently. The URL shop.irctc.co.in points to Yebhi.com server.
A ping test to the two URLs shows replies from 2 IPs which belong to Yebhi.com
So, when none of the claims / reasons cited to justify the IRCTC entry into e-commerce are true, it remains a huge mystery as to what is the rationale behind IRCTC (a government body’s subsidiary) foray into a highly competitive sector.