Balakrishnan, Business Standard
20 August 2014
prasad and virtual aarti are passe. To secure a bigger chunk of
the spiritually-oriented, e-commerce sites in the religious segment
are now going beyond commoditised services.
So, ready yourselves for combo offers tailor-made for your kind
of devotion. OnlinePrasad, the largest player in this sector,
has launched a combo offer for devotees of Lord Krishna. Goonjan
Mall, founder, OnlinePrasad, says the site has increased its catchment
area from four temples to 50, as devotees are no longer happy
with prasad from the Mathura temple alone and want prasad from
all leading Krishna temples in India.
During Janmashtami, OnlinePrasad launched a 'two-plus-one' scheme,
which provided prasad from the Vrindavan, Dwarka, Srinathji, Puri
Jagannath, Pandharpur Vitthala and Goverdhan Giriraj Dharan temples.
The company's Zevotion brand accounts for about a third of the
e-commerce site's revenue. Launched six months ago, it offers
rudrakshas and idols. Mall says Zevotion is India's first devotional
Another popular site, Saranam.com, offer services that combine
astrology and pujas. It offers analysis of horoscopes, as well
as pujas, depending on various planetary positions, on an annual
subscription basis. It has a monthly customer base of about 4,000
to 5,000. Such devotion has a material aspect, too. The site charges
$2,750 (Rs 1.6 lakh) a year for this service, Talisman, which
includes pujas, homams, consultation and shipping charges.
"In the recent past, we have seen a lot of interest from
non-resident Indians who are unable to do pujas every month at
their favourite temples in India. The 'Talisman' package will
help them with pujas according to their planetary positions through
the year, with delivery of prasad to their doorsteps," says
Mahesh Mohanan, founder of Saranam.com.
The site also sells rudrakshas, and claims these are value-added
through pujas. Launched in Chennai in 1999, Saranam.com plans
to launch travel services to various temples across the country
soon. When money comes in, can private equities be far behind?
OnlinePrasad plans to raise a second round of PE funding and is
engaged in talks with various firms. Expansion plans include those
for product launches under Zevotion, scaling up temple reach,
logistics, and promotion & marketing. A year ago, OnlinePrasad
raised angel funding from GrowthStory (an investment company founded
by Krishnan Ganesh and Meena Ganesh) by divesting 35 per cent
Devangshu Dutta, chief executive of Third Eyesight, a retail
consultancy, said, "The market related to religion and spirituality
will always see growth, as customers are unlikely to cut expenditure,
even in a downturn." He added these sites could gain significant
margins by selling products and services, as these weren't standard
and varies from sites to sites. In India, temples have seen good
growth in annual revenue.
Last year, Tirupati Devasthanam in Andhra Pradesh earned revenue
of Rs 2,260 crore. Annual revenue of other religious sites such
as the ShirdiSaibaba and Siddhivinayak and Puri Jagannath temples,
as well as the Vaishnodevi shrine, stands at Rs 100-1,500 crore
(Published in Business