How MapmyIndia turned to e-com to counter Google

  • Sunny Sen, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 15, 2016 15:22 IST
Rohan Verma, executive director of MapmyIndia. (HT Photo )

Three years back MapmyIndia (MMI) was staring at a crisis. Though the enterprise business of selling navigation systems and maps to carmakers was doing well, Rohan Verma, executive director of MMI was worried. Individuals had started using Google Maps on their smartphones instead of buying personal navigation devices, which was MMI’s big bet.

By then MMI had built the country’s largest digital map repository. Then one day, a transport company asked Verma if he could give a tracking solution to monitor its vehicles.

That was an opportunity he had not thought about. Verma’s team married the maps with tracking devices and started selling them to transportation companies.

Meanwhile, e-commerce had taken off in India. Large companies, such as Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal were promising quicker deliveries – orders had ballooned. This was another opportunity.

Verma grabbed it. Flipkart and Amazon were promising deliveries within a day, Ebay promised it within nine hours. It was impossible for the delivery boys to fulfil the orders if they had to search for each-and-every house. “The e-commerce companies needed to know the exact destination where the orders had to be delivered,” said Verma.

MMI started geo-tagging customer’s addresses, using longitude and latitude, helping delivery boys reach the order-destination efficiently. Details such as the building and the street were provided. Soon, MMI started playing a more pivotal role in deliveries. It started making trip sheets giving sequence of deliveries.

MMI has geo-tagged 15 million locations, since. That also got it a small funding from Flipkart.

In two years, ecommerce and logistics has become 25% of MMI’s revenue. “That business grew at 150% last year,” said Verma. MMI’s revenue doubled.

But to provide such details costs a lot. Smaller ecommerce companies could not afford it. So Verma started a pay-per-use model, where every order that needs to be geo-tagged could be sent to MMI, which provided the exact details to the ecommerce or logistic companies.

Now, Verma is taking that a step forward. It’s doing something called 360-degree view. A three dimensional camera is mounted on a car, which travels through the roads and streets taking pictures every few seconds. These visuals will be then linked to the maps and the locations. “The delivery boys will soon be able to identify address by seeing what’s around that place,” said Verma.

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