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IRCTC is a popular online travel portal of India that is well known for its Online Passenger Reservation System worldwide. IRCTC provides booking facility of Railway tickets online and offers other services like checking reservation status, hotel bookings, details of train etc. The thoughts below are in line with Mr. Sanjay Agarwal’s (Manager, IRCTC) viewpoints who recently shared his views on IRCTC in a summit, discussed the scenario of eCommerce of IRCTC.

The Growth

• As per the statistics IRCTC started in year 2002 when Internet penetration in India was very limited. IRCTC sold 1.99 lakh tickets for 4.17 lakh passengers in between year 2002 – 2003 that summed up to 4.17 lakh tickets and reached revenue model of Rs. 27.16 crore.

• The number of tickets sold in year 2007 – 2008 crossed the boundaries of lakhs and reached to crores by selling 1.89 crore tickets for 3.52 crore passengers and generated revenue of Rs. 704.91 crore. The growth ratio increased by 100% .

• Year 2009 – 2010 showcased 7.20 crores ticket sold for 12.90 crores passenger, highest number of tickets sold with a revenue model of Rs. 6748 crore.

• IRCTC has 16 million registered members today and with a revenue model of Rs, 6748 crore +, it is still 35% of Indian Railways.

• IRCTC ventured into air ticketing services in May 2010 which will add more value to the Travel Portal and will generate more revenues in the coming years as anticipated from the past growth.

The Payment Options

IRCTC has various payment options that could ease the purchase process of a passenger. This is one of the main reasons why IRCTC is a favorite travel portal amongst passengers in spite of the technical and server down glitches. With various options available for people to make a payment IRCTC has following payment options:

1. Credit Cards (Master Card / Visa / Amex)
2. Debit Cards
3. Net Banking (PG Consolidator)
4. Cash cards (ITZ Cash Cards, Done Cash Cards, I – Cash Cards, Oxygen)
5. Rolling Deposit Scheme

38.4% of IRCTC users in India use Net Banking / Debit Card for purchasing tickets online. 22.4% purchased tickets via Credit Cards and 15% via Cash Cards. 23.7% people purchased ticket via other option available such as agents, supported ecommerce etc. In India it is easy to avail Debit card than the credit card thus Debit card is majorly used in transactions.

Assisted eCommerce

Indian Travel Portal has let a smart strategy of being physically available for people for assistance. Not all can purchase tickets online due to lack of payment options or due to lack of internet education. Travel sites like Yatra, Makemytrip, and clear trip have their accessible office in real world and thus helping people purchase tickets with cash. IRCTC works on an agency model, it has got 1, 40,000 outlets thus creating employability opportunities for people and penetrating deep into the market. These agents help people purchase tickets online in urban and majorly in rural India. IRCTC outlet in both rural and urban India brings about 40% contributions with more than three million transactions per month.

Investing in Mobile Commerce

IRCTC ventured into Mobile Commerce as they foresee huge potential in the Mobile Commerce. In India penetration of mobile is three times of plastic and penetration of telephone is 10 times of internet users. There are more than 600 million connections with growth of around 7 million per month. Along with above compelling reasons Mobile is handy and is available 24 x 7 for access. Compelled by the above reason IRCTC entered into Mcommerce with HUTCH – GPRS and Voice, Reliance World, Csam, NGPAY, Atom, Paymate, SMS with ICICI Net banking etc.

Though Mobile commerce is a great concept but it didn’t work quite well for the India market. IRCTC sold 67 tickets via C-SAM, 27,400+ tickets via NGPAY and 26 tickets via Atom. The reasons could be the pace of the process which is too slow and security is the other major concern involved. The current payment eco-system on a mobile platform is tedious and thus does not account for credibility. In addition to above, the lack of awareness about Mobile Commerce is a major concern.

Issues with IRCTC

Till now IRCTC is leading on the growth ladder and an infinite growth is anticipated with the statistics. I don’t remember when was the last time I have gone to railway station to purchase a ticket. IRCTC has been a hit in the country, there are still few obstacles that IRCTC faces today:

• Negative perception by public or press on various issues
• Concerns related to Infrastructure, user interference, website down etc.
• Concerns related to banking, cards, online transactions, payment gateways and internet service providers.
• Refund Issues

My next blog post will indicate how does above facts of IRCTC impacts decision making on eCommerce India.

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