Making E-commerce Easy


Helping businesses do business online

Sustainable Packaging in Ecommerce

Was at Coonoor (a gorgeous-sleepy hill station town in the Nilgiris) over the weekend, and was amazed at how the entire town, and increasingly the entire region, is saying no to plastic.

They have the same retail chains who dole out plastic bags across India, providing cloth / paper bags at the checkout counters. Incredible. Amazing what a little firm initiative from the local government can do.

Makes me wonder when the same focus is going to come into the world of Ecommerce. Today some of the leading online retailers are still dumping the customer with excessive non-sustainable packaging. Its time all of us in the industry looked into this and did something about it.

I’m starting today by trying to find vendors who supply sustainable packaging materials so that I can recommend them to our clients.

I’m convinced that it will make a difference for the customers as well to know that the company that they shop with is green. It should be a differentiator and for those e-retailers complying with it should be making some noise about it.

The Art of the Cart

Never before has so much attention been given to the shopping cart as now. With the customer’s mail box getting flooded with coupons from deal sites, the customer has become a lot more price conscious. Getting a customer to come to your site, and be excited enough by your product to add it to the cart is great. But to get the customer to carry that cart all the way through checkout is a completely different ball game.

The E-commerce game revolves around the cart. With conversion rates at E-commerce stores ranging between 1% – 7%, and each percentage point becomes ever so important. There are many things that can be done to fix the cart. Here’s a look at what some of the leading etailers in India are doing to keep their shopping carts conversion rates high. We looked at,,,, and Here are the findings:


I loved the bit where they point out the availability of Cash-on-Delivery as a payment option for the items in the cart. I like how “Proceed to checkout” is the main highlighted button, whereas everything else is in a lighter colour, such the “continue shopping” button.


The blue-eyed boys of Indian Ecommerce have a fairly straight-forward shopping cart. Its one of the few that show the cart in a ajax pop-up. ( also does the same). The ajax part is nice, because it doesn’t wait for a page to load. However, I believe that this can somehow reduce the conversion rate.



Rediff’s cart is probably the simplest no-frills cart amongst the major retailers. Not what I would recommend. The only good part perhaps is that they have no other element in the page.


Fantastic cart. My favourite. Not surprisingly its probably the one of the most successful site in the Indian Ecommerce market, and I’m excluding their auction related sales. Its got a bunch of options that a customer might want to see including help through live chat, product thumbnails, payment options, discount / savings information, next steps, and very importantly, it does a very good job of cross-selling.





Probably the most expensive platform in the history of Indian Ecommerce yet. Their cart doesn’t disappoint. Its got almost all the elements laid out well. I think their design could be much better, but they seem to get most check marks as far as the cart essentials go. I like them showing the progressive steps of the cart along with the live chat help icon.

Also like the fact that they provide a very prominent place to add any coupon details. Many site leave this to the final page before they provide this option. I think the earlier you allow your customers to see the benefit the better it is.


Also they do a good job of cross-selling, which is so crucial. If you can even get 10% of your customers to add something from the suggested list, thats a huge revenue.



Murali Balan is a Director at Tenovia, and shares Tenovia’s mission of helping businesses do business online. He has around 10 years of experience in Ecommerce technologies and business practices.

Cloud Computing and Ecommerce in India

Its time that Indian Ecommerce companies started getting up and about on cloud computing. And when I say its time, I mean yes there are a few companies that dabble in it, but I’m talking about something like 25 – 40% of the Ecommerce companies in India using cloud computing in some capacity.

Who is it ideal for?

1. Smaller companies, hungry for growth.  And which is serious about spiking their traffic.

2. Large Ecommerce companies who have built up comprehensive platforms need to start pushing some of their applications on the cloud. Predominantly to get comfortable with it.

Why aren’t more people using it?

A couple of reasons mainly

1. Inexperience amongst the developer community with implementing cloud solutions. They’re still comfortable hosting applications on shared / dedicated servers and are afraid to experiment.

2. Online businesses are confused about the total cost of ownership of a complete cloud based solution. (CPU cycles / data download and upload pricing / pricing with and without CDNs, etc)

Way Forward

Okay, despite last week’s outage of services at Amazon’s Cloud, I believe that Cloud computing is where all of Ecommerce is headed. I believe that there is a huge Mobile commerce play that will consume the Indian market. And all those mobiles would need to interact with a lot of data sitting in servers. And that traffic’s unpredictability will be huge.

Cloud computing for Ecommerce makes too much sense and saves too much money to be ignored. And with Ecommerce at infliction point in India, its more important now than ever that our developer community / Online business heads wake up to this reality.