O2O Commerce: Local Services Market Opportunities

The local services market is expanding in India with big players like Paytm. O2O commerce provides big opportunities, even in Tier III cities, with scale. Consolidation and big investments are there for the right players.

Times of India reports that Online payments and commerce player Paytm has acquired Near.in as consolidation sets in the crowded local and home services market. The acquisition of the Gurgaon-based Near.in is in line with Paytm's strategy to strengthen its O2O (online-to-offline) play, a company executive told TOI. The move comes at a time when a number of startups in the local services market have been unable to raise fresh capital as investors pull back.

Near.in had raised seed funding of around Rs 2 crore from serial entrepreneurs like Anupam Mittal of Shaadi.com, Manish Vij of adtech firm SVG Media, Prashant Tandon (CEO) and Gaurav Agarwal (CTO) of Healthkart.com, and Akash Agarwal, global vice-president of the mobile division of enterprise software maker SAP Labs.

Near.in, which was founded a little over a year ago, provides a platform to local services and connects professionals with customers looking to avail services such as makeup artists, dietitians, dance teachers and yoga instructors, among others. Currently, the company offers over 100 categories of local services. It competes with well-funded bigger players like UrbanClap and Housejoy, besides a bunch of vertical marketplaces offering specific services like beauty and laundry.

"O2O is a key focus area for Paytm and Near.in seemed a perfect fit for us, which has a credible team. While funds are not easily coming to a lot of companies, making the right purchase is crucial. Our investments in Jugnoo and Little reflect the same intent as to whoever bridges the gap between online and offline effectively is an attractive target," Reddy told TOI, adding that the Alibaba-backed company is looking to purchase a couple more startups in this space.

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