Success of Flipkart and Snapdeal spawns name-copying in the e-commerce market

01 Sep,2014

By Rasul Bailay


You have an e-commerce business model, you have startup funding, you are all fired up, and now you need a name for your company. Take note – the online bazaar is stuffed full of something ‘kart’ or something ‘deal’, a manic copying frenzy thanks to headline grabbing successes of Flipkart and Snapdeal.


There are at least 15 e-commerce sites that have ‘kart’ appended to their name. ‘Deal’ has attracted at least a dozen ventures. So, you have relatively well-known HealthKart and LensKart to relatively less-known e-tailers such as VeggieKart, SafetyKart, Mygreenkart, Metalkart, Bagskart, Jewelskart, Yaari Kart, AssamKart and even a Spritualkart. Just as you have entedeal, freedealsguru, indiasmartdeal, Dealtz, and the very prosaic, Daily Deal.


Ecommerce entrepreneurs are divided over whether such name cloning works. Some like Arun Chandra Mohan are dead set against ‘kart’ or ‘deal’ or ‘for you’, another awfully common online venture naming strategy. Mohan’s venture went online in 2011.


And the name? Jabong. Jabong, as everyone knows, has done pretty well for itself, despite being nonkart and non-deal.


But e-entrepreneurs still finding their feet in the tough online marketplace differ. There are startups that say naming ventures ‘kart’ and ‘deal’ will quickly identify them as ecommerce websites.


“Many ecommerce ventures now use the ‘kart’ thing so people can easily understand what they are about,” says Bikash Kalita, cofounder of Guwahati-based AssamKart. com.


AssamKart sells e-books in Assamese as well as English language books written by Assamese authors. “If we had any other name then we would have had to explain ourselves. Since Flipkart, Lenskart, etc, are well known, people know from our name what we are about,” Kalita says.


Aasheesh Mediratta, CEO, Fashionandyou. com, takes a ‘it doesn’t matter’ line. ‘Karts’ and ‘deals’ may give short-term advantage to newbies and irritate the established ‘karts’ and ‘deals’, but what matters over time is service quality, Mediratta argues. “This can divert small share of traffic to such sites. But along with the name, it is the business model, execution and offering which make the brand difficult to be cloned or impacted,” he says.


But what about cases where similar sounding names are a coincidence? Then the less-famous ‘kart’ or ‘deal’ just has to live with it. Peyush Bansal, founder of online eyewear seller Lenskart, says his company had registered the domain name in 2008, “years before Flipkart became famous”.


“Were I naming my company today there’s no way I would pick the same name,” Bansal says, “but now I have no choice because our brand is well known.” This Bansal simply didn’t know that the other Bansals, running the big daddy of all ‘karts’, Flipkart, would one day make it so big.


There’s a darker side to the name cloning story – straight copying and infringement. Last year, Shopclues executives were shocked to discover a site registered in Dubai that not only used Shopclues’ logo but even copied the Gurgaonbased firm’s contents.


“They had completely copied the whole thing. That was copyright infringement more than anything else. They had even copied the management profile by just changing the names,” says Radhika Aggarwal, co-founder of Shopclues.


Aggarwal says there are many cyber squatters in China sitting on cloned names – Shopklues and Shopcluss are among the more inventive ones. “Many times we let it go…but if there is blatant copyright infringement we make sure to send legal notices,” Aggarwal says.


India’s largest fashion and accessories portal had a name problem, too. Its Twitter handle was stolen and then restored and on YouTube, ‘Myntra’ was taken. So, the Bangalorebased company had to settle for for its YouTube account. But at least, Myntra is tougher to name-clone than a kart or a deal.


Source:The Economic Times

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