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Vertical Integration Is Crucial Agam Berry, Quantified Commerce

Maybe you’ve heard the term vertical integration before. It’s being thrown around a lot, especially in a time when companies are looking for competitive advantages in order to make an impact in global markets like India. With an enormous population and burgeoning middle class, India is shaping up to be the next economic powerhouse. With a market share this big, it only makes sense that companies are looking to get a piece of the action, while also cutting down costs and making their business models efficient and cost-effective. That’s where vertical integration comes into play.

Vertical integration is when a company controls more than one part of the supply chain. There are two facets to this type of integration, forward integration and backward integration.

Forward integration is when a company owns a facet of the supply chain that is “upstream” from them, an example would be an oil drilling company also owning a refinery. Backward integration is when a company owns a part of the business that is “downstream” from them, an example would be a sandwich shop owning a factory that produces bread. When a company owns one or more of these steps in the supply chain that company is considered a vertically integrated one.

When it comes to entering the Indian market it will be essential for companies to vertically integrate to stay competitive and deliver, literally.

The ability to deliver products to customers in a timely fashion is going to be one of the most difficult challenges for e-commerce companies in India to achieve. Due to India’s subpar infrastructure companies are going to have to find creative ways to get products into the hands of their customers in a timely and efficient manner. This is why some companies are looking into drone technology in order to, in the future, own their own reliable means of delivery.

Drone delivery, however, is far off in the future, but there is a way that companies can make it easier for themselves when it comes to navigating India’s tricky terrain right now. Quantified Commerce, a vertically integrated company that builds their own brands and sells directly to the customer via the internet owns its own factories, warehouses, call centers and trucks, the latter of which allows them to keep both the cost and time of delivery down compared to their competition.

We spoke to co-founder of Quantified Commerce, Agam Berry, to see how vertically integrating allows for his company to stay effective in India. “In India, it takes most companies 5-7 days to get their product in customers hands, but because we own our own infrastructure it only takes us two.” The advantage Quantified Commerce has owning the supply chain end-to-end not only leads to happier customers, but also allows for them to hold inventory for a shorter period of time, “we don’t hold our inventory as long as other companies do, which gives us a huge advantage, and since we’re able to sell directly to the customer via the internet we cut the cost of a retailer, and pass those savings on to the customer” said Berry.

Berry also pointed out the benefits his company sees from owning and maintaining their own warehouses and manufacturing, which allows Quantified Commerce to avoid the pitfalls that other companies run into while trying to gain a foothold in India, “other companies don’t realize that price is really key for the Indian consumer, and by owning manufacturing and warehouses we are able to keep our costs down, which allows us to pass that saving to the consumer.”

Those low prices Berry talked about aren’t at the sacrifice of quality or customer experience. “We own our own call centers as well, which allows us to provide superior customer service,” said Berry, “and the fact that we can sell directly to our customers means a better customer experience.” A better customer experience is extremely important, especially in a day and age when the competition is just a click away.

While India is still growing, it is fast becoming one of the bigger markets in the world. The country is complex to navigate, but companies are going to need to figure out how to navigate it if they’re going to thrive in the ever-expanding world of digital e-commerce. While there are many problems facing companies that are looking to make inroads into India, vertical integration is becoming a necessary step to doing it successfully.

( Originally published on Apr 24, 2018 )

Introducing – The New and Improved ET Wealth

Delhi, 5 January 2018

ET Wealth, India’s only weekly personal finance newspaper will now be in a brand new avatar. With a new design and format we plan to ring in 2018 in style. With design changes in typography, page architecture, color and content structure, we have bettered our offerings to create a better experience for our readers as we advise them on simple ways of making money.

The cover story for this edition of ET Wealth is an annual feature that deals with tax savings and tax optimization. The timing of the story is quite apt as tax season is around the corner and most professionals would be preparing their final investments to avoid paying more taxes than they have to.

To book your copy, sms ETWS to 58888, or speak to your vendor.

ET Wealth is the first weekly personal finance newspaper of India and covers news, views and insights on a wide variety of topics relevant to the rapidly changing economic lives of the readers.

For further details, contact Akshant Dhruvraj, akshant.dhruvraj@timesgroup.com.

Media Contact:
Shreya Jha
Deputy General Manager
shreya.jha@timesgroup.com

( Originally published on Jan 06, 2018 )

AQUACULTURE: With tech-savvy Dubai, UAE-India partnership can alter world fisheries scenario

India and the UAE have a long-standing relationship that has reached newer heights especially during the last five years. As the two countries widen their engagement in a number of areas, they can also come together to tackle issues related to food security with specific thrust on aquaculture and sustainable fishing practices. Aquaculture offers a common thread to the two countries because the UAE is still importing 80 per cent of its food while India is looking to pip China as the world’s leading fish producer.

Aquaculture can hasten UAE’s efforts to achieve the self-set target of grabbing the Number 1 position in the Global Food Security Index by 2051 and in the case of India the same can usher in the much-awaited Blue Revolution 2.0. Two key factors, however, will drive the success of the two countries though, namely, Dubai’s inherent technological strengths (in the case of the UAE) and India’s ability to take advantage of its rich inland resources to boost fish production. India’s inland resources include 195,210 kms of rivers/canals, 2.9 million hectares of minor/major reservoirs, 2.4 million hectares of ponds/lakes and about 0.8 million hectares of flood plain wetlands and not even 2 per cent of these are being utilized currently.

This realisation recently had prompted the Indian Government to invest Rs.25,000 crore in inland resources, down next 5 years, to boost fish production. Similarly, UAE too is making serious efforts to expand its aquaculture landscape. Affirming that the UAE’s aquaculture is set for substantial growth, Minister of State for Food Security Mariam Al Mheiri says: “It would be subject to federal innovative measures designed to enhance its operations and output, as well as substantive government initiatives to increase its attractiveness to investors.”

“Food security is very important for the UAE. Even in the ongoing pandemic scenario, it is able to manage its supply chains well. This is because the country is politically and economically stable. But, to achieve its 2051 target, the country has to invest big time in aquaculture,” says Shaji Baby John Chairman and Managing Director, Kings Infra Ventures Ltd, a leading player in India’s aquaculture landscape.

Shaji acknowledges the fact that the UAE for some time now has been actively encouraging innovative, technology-driven agricultural practices which include vertical and smart farming, hydroponics and aeroponics. “But, if you ask me, I will say aquaculture should be the country’s top priority because before the advent of oil, fishing was the key livelihood of people there. It means the country, especially Dubai, has inherent strengths in fisheries sector,” he avers. He believes that Dubai will play a key role in driving UAE’s ambitions because its strong fisheries tradition is matched by innovation, technology and a vibrant startup ecosystem.

Aquaculture experts point out that the UAE will need large investments and strategic partnerships to get desired results. Al Mheiri who expects aquaculture to become one of the country’s “breakout industries” concurs when she says that it is crucial to attract more investment in this sector because aquaculture represents a central component of the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy, with fish identified as one of its 18 strategic food items.

Aquaculture, is one of the key industries for the UAE to reach its 2051 target for a variety of reasons. First, the world’s appetite for fish and fish products has not slowed down as global capture fisheries and global aquaculture production rose by 14 per cent and 527 per cent respectively between 1990 and 2018. The total food fish consumption also witnessed a 122 per cent growth for the same period. What is more interesting is that global per capita fish consumption currently stands at 20.5 kg compared to the 9.0 kg back in 1961. The UAE is one among the 5 countries that account for the highest per capita fish consumption at 25.5 kg, and the gap between production and demand can widen with the growth of population in the region.

It is estimated that the UAE currently consumes about 22,000 tonnes of fish a year, over 85 per cent of which is imported while aquaculture provides only 2 per cent of the fish consumed locally. This is despite the UAE being home to a number of fish hatcheries including Fish Farm LLC in Dubai and Sheikh Khalifa Marine Research Centre and Marine Studies Centre at Abu Al Abyad Island with a combined annual production capacity of 35 million. The government expects this investment to flow from private sector because Al Mheiri herself describes private sector “as a crucial backbone in our blueprint for aquaculture in the UAE.” There is not much doubt that aquaculture sector in the UAE will ride on the shoulders of private sector.

Strategic Partnership opportunities between Dubai and India in the Aquaculture space is a new promising territory with knowledge and technology exchange capabilities in farm automation, IoT, drone management of offshore sites among other processes. Through the 100% FDI norms in the Aquaculture industry in India and Dubai’s robust logistics and re-export infrastructure, including world class airports and seaports, not only UAE’s food security vision but also the global market needs can be addressed by players looking to invest in this emerging industry.

Disclaimer: This article is a part of featured content series on Business in Dubai

( Originally published on Aug 27, 2020 )

Reap the harvest of your hard work by getting a new car

Gudi Padva which is celebrated by Maharashtrian Hindus in spring is a harvest festival that signifies the reaping of Rabi crops sown in winter as well as the time to sow a new harvest. One can interpret this as the reaping of fruits of one’s hard work as well as the preparation for the next cycle of labour. Let us look back on the years gone by. We have to invest energy, time and passion in our work to generate credibility. However, how many of us realize that our families has also stood by us and put in tremendous vigour. Is it fair to ferry them around in a scooter or a bike on the treacherous roads and dangerous traffic of our cities and towns? Buying a car on the occasion of Gudi Padva would not only safeguard your family while all of you are travelling but also signify a suitable reward for all your efforts.

And there are some practical reasons to buy your automobile during Gudi Padva too:

Instant Eligibility: Being the festive season, it is imperative that you have knowledge of your eligibility amounts on the go when you scouting for your favourite car. YES BANK today offers in-principle approval in 60 seconds with YES mPOWER, first of its kind chat based eligibility BOT

Low interest rates: Gudi Padva season is not only critical for automobile dealers but also for financial institutions. This results in delicious discounts being offered for a limited period of time. Therefore it makes sense to take advantage of attractive finance rates which will ensure that you end up paying lower EMIs.

Exchange offers: Certain automobile companies have exchange offers according to which you can exchange your incumbent car for a new one. This can result in savings of upto a lakh on purchase of the new vehicle. However, this depends from brand to brand and one would be well advised to do some research before deciding to exchange.

Deals and discounts: A variety of deals and discounts will be offered by dealers during this time. Even though sales of top automobile companies have picked up in 2017-18, dealers would be looking to end the year on a good note. Therefore one can expect deals across models and variants which you wouldn’t find otherwise throughout the year. You can also expect free insurance, lower AMC costs, cash discounts and gift cheques

Dealers are looking to close: Gudi Padva sales numbers are as important as sales numbers recorded during Diwali. This would mean that sales executives of both dealers as well as financial institutions which are looking to lend would be having steep targets as well as robust incentives on achieving these targets. This would mean that they are looking to close. A serious buyer can not only negotiate hard to get some extra accessories but also on the interest rates being offered to save up on EMI.

To help you make the best of this year’s Gudi Padva, you can depend on your very own YES BANK for financial assistance. We offer faster processing, service guarantee and easy documentation. We offer loans right from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 crore for your auto loan needs. We can even offer favourable tenure so that your EMI is reduced.

To know more, get in touch with us at our nearest branch or you can click here

( Originally published on Mar 20, 2018 )

Health Insurance Renewal – 3 Things To Keep In Mind

Health insurance policy offers coverage for medical expenses incurred by the insured member during a policy year. Depending on the type of health cover one opts for, the medical expenses can include hospitalisation costs, day-care procedures, domiciliary hospitalisation, pre and post-hospitalisation costs, etc. There are various add-ons or riders that can be attached to a standard health insurance policy to get well-rounded coverage.

Health insurance renewal

Like life insurance or car insurance, health insurance has to be renewed at the end of every policy year to enjoy continuous coverage. Health insurance can be purchased online through the insurer’s website or offline through an insurance agent. Similarly, health insurance renewal can be done online through the insurer’s website or offline at the nearest branch office of the insurance company.

Before purchasing a health insurance plan, it is important to compare various policies across the top insurance providers to choose the one that best serves your needs. You can compare health insurance policies online through a third-party website and get an instant quote on your chosen policy

3 things to consider at the time of health insurance renewal

Although health insurance renewal is a simple and easy process, especially when done online, there are few things to keep in mind before renewing the existing policy:

  • Review the renewal terms: Policyholders will be sent a renewal reminder by the insurance company 45 days prior to the renewal date. The reminder email will contain policy details such as the sum assured, number and types of claims made, and no-claim bonus. Policyholders must be diligent and keep the insurance company informed if there is any discrepancy in the policy details specified in the reminder mail.
  • Before renewing, check out other options: Porting a policy from one insurer to another is an option when the policyholder is dissatisfied with the existing insurer either due to higher premium costs and sub-limits or lower benefits. An advantage of health insurance portability is that the policyholder will not lose out on the policy benefits such as waiting period and No-Claim Bonus when transferring it from one insurer to the next.
  • Assess insurance needs: With the steady rise in healthcare costs, an existing policy will not offer sufficient insurance coverage. That is why, it is necessary to assess present and future health insurance needs. Depending on the needs, choose a higher sum insured or add a rider to the standard base policy.

Tips to renew health insurance policy

Health insurance like two-wheeler insurance has to be renewed annually to keep the policy active and enjoy continuous coverage. Here are some tips to renew health insurance on time:

  • Policy renewal before due date: When a policyholder fails to renew the policy on time, a 15 to 30-day grace period is provided to pay the premium dues. If the premium payment isn’t made within the grace period, then the policy lapses. Therefore, the policyholder has to remember to renew the policy on or before the due date. Health insurance premium can be higher than other insurance premiums. Therefore, like that of a personal loan EMI payment, put aside funds to make health insurance premium payment.
  • Tax benefits: Health insurance like life insurance provides tax benefits as per the Income Tax Act, 1961. Enjoy tax deductions on premiums paid towards health insurance and critical illness riders. You can change the policyholder to get better tax benefits.
  • Review insurance needs: It is important to review one’s insurance needs before renewing the existing policy. If a couple is planning to have a child, a maternity benefit plan can be added to the base policy can be added to the base policy at the time of renewal.
  • Disclose new illnesses at the time of renewal: Be honest with the medical details furnished at the time of policy purchase and renewal to avoid any hassle when a claim has to be made in future.
  • Choose higher sum insured: At the time of policy renewal, policyholders have the option to increase the sum insured. This requires medical tests and a revision of the claim history. Sum insured can’t be increased further if the existing sum has already met the sum insured limit of the policy. In such a case, the policyholder can opt for a Super Top-up Plan to get a higher sum insured.
  • Read policy document carefully: Check the policy terms and conditions like claim guidelines, renewal clause, exclusions, etc.

Keep in mind these tips when you go for renewing your existing health insurance policy. The insurance company has the right to deny a policyholder’s health insurance renewal.

( Originally published on Dec 15, 2017 )

Cricket and Investing

Growth

May 2019 was an action packed month for India as 2 of India’s 3 biggest obsessions (Politics, Cricket and Bollywood) kept everyone hooked to their television sets and smart phones for latest updates and live action. While election campaign and results kept everyone interested during first half of May, ICC Cricket World Cup which commenced exactly a week after the Lok Sabha Election Results has grabbed a lot of eyeballs over the last month.

Cricket unites Indians better than any religion. As we have made peace with the fact that Cricket is more of a religion than a sport in India and we certainly don’t intend to commit any blasphemy here, how about using Cricket to grow our wealth? No, we aren’t speaking about purchasing a stake in an IPL team. What we can do is draw parallels between various facets of Cricket and Investing to grow our wealth over the long term.

Cricket Teams which have tasted success consistently have been those with players capable of performing in different playing conditions and posses the right team composition so that they are agnostic to uncertainties around coin toss and playing conditions. As an investor, asset allocation of your portfolio is as critical as the securities you choose. Right balance between Equity, Debt and Gold coupled with adequate sectoral persification is necessary to cushion your portfolio from market shocks.

While having a large talent pool is advantageous, identifying talent and selecting the right players is as critical. Selectors keep an eye for consistent performers with potential to perform in the future. A few good or bad performances don’t drive selection decisions. Likewise, investment decisions should not be driven by recent short term performance but should be based on strong track record and potential to perform in the future.

Unlike other sports, the captain has a huge role to play in Cricket. World Cup winning captains have been strong personalities who led from the front. A captain in cricket needs to have foresight, good temperament, flexibility and patience among other things to marshal his resources well. Likewise, an investor needs to posses these very attributes to grow his wealth over the long term.

A strong start and a consistent scoring rate are necessary to set the tempo for a winning score. A wobbly start to an inning increases the required run rate and leaves a mountain to climb towards the end of a run chase. Likewise, most people turn a blind eye to their investment goals at the beginning of their careers. By the time they realize the criticality of saving and investing, it’s a tad too late. To make up for the lost time, investors end up choosing risky assets without considering their risk appetite, time horizon and end in financial doldrums. The only way to avoid this predicament is to start investing early, invest regularly and stay invested.

Parallels with the world of investing are not limited to cricket alone and can be seen across various aspects of our day to day life. One can use such analogies to adopt mindful investing and create wealth over long term. Next time you watch a cricket match, don’t think merely in terms of runs and wickets but also in terms of equity, debt and wealth.

This article has been written by Ms. Shyamali Basu, Senior Vice President & Head – Products & Marketing, HDFC Asset Management Co. Ltd.

The views expressed are author’s own views and not necessarily those of HDFC Asset Management Company Limited (HDFC AMC). The views are not an investment advice. Investors should obtain their own independent advice before taking a decision to invest in any securities.

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Sustainability Takes Centre Stage at Expo 2020 Dubai

With more than 191 participating nations, numerous pavilions, events, attractions and experiences, Expo 2020 Dubai UAE aims to inspire and initiate change and create a better future with a focus on sustainability, opportunity and mobility

Expo 2020 Dubai UAE, the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), will be taking place from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022 in the Dubai South District and is expected to bring together the greatest minds from around the world to ideate, collaborate and innovate for a better and more sustainable world. Speaking about the event, Mohamed AlAnsaari, Vice President – Communications, Expo 2020 Dubai, shares, “Expo 2020 is the UAE’s commitment to building a cleaner, safer, healthier and more inclusive future for every person from every community. Post pandemic, Expo 2020 aspires to celebrate creativity, innovation, humanity and world cultures. With this in mind, for 182 consecutive days, the Expo site will be alive with unmissable sights, sounds, rhythms and flavours from across the globe.” With the overarching theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating The Future’, the Expo will feature over 200 pavilions and restaurants, and 60-plus daily shows. The six-month-long extravaganza is slated to showcase the best of technology, innovation, architecture, learning, arts, culture, music, food, entertainment and much else.

For a better tomorrow

With a focus and aim to create a better world and be one of the most sustainable World Expos in history, ‘sustainability’ forms the cornerstone of this year’s event alongside ‘opportunity’ and ‘mobility’. Says AlAnsaari, “Sustainability is integrated across the entirety of the World Expo. Expo 2020’s Sustainability Policy engages the global community, participants and visitors to take collective action to address sustainability challenges. By bringing people together from across the globe, Expo 2020 Dubai aims to deliver real, actionable solutions.”

Further to this, Expo 2020 will feature three thematic districts. First, the Sustainability District will throw light on the various efforts being undertaken to preserve our environment and co-exist harmoniously. The Mobility District, on the other hand, will bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds showcasing the latest advancements in mobility—from autonomous vehicles to space travel. The third component of the triad—the Opportunity District will introduce the changemakers who are making a difference whilst encouraging ideation, collaboration and an exchange of ideas. Then there’s the Programme for People and Planet, a platform that will focus on finding solutions to some of the world’s most pressing concerns, like the future of human health, climate and biopersity, and space exploration among others.

Experience the best


At the Emirates Pavilion, visitors can set off on a sensory journey to 2071 (UAE’s centennial year) to experience the future of commercial aviation in the region. For architecture lovers, the event will open doors to over 90 uniquely constructed pavilions that include structures designed to resemble birds, or those that generate oxygen and electricity or feature the world’s largest 360-degree projection surface. Adds AlAnsaari, “The Expo 2020 site is truly something to behold, including beautiful parks and gardens, performance spaces, and iconic architecture. More than 240 million work hours have gone into transforming the site from desert to [a] city of the future.”

Alternatively, there’s lots to imbibe and learn for students and teachers as well—from specially designed educational experiences to tours. Meanwhile, investors and entrepreneurs, too, can participate in global forums and conferences to network. While commenting on the most exciting aspect from this year’s edition, AlAnsaari shares, “Legacy has been at the centre of planning for all aspects of Expo 2020 Dubai since the beginning. The infrastructure and buildings were designed to seamlessly transition from a global event venue to a sustainable, mixed-use community, known as District 2020 that will live on for decades after Expo 2020. District 2020 is the future of Expo that will repurpose more than 80 per cent of the site’s built environment into a human-centric smart city.”

The best of India


Showcasing the country’s strengths, innovations, contributions and aspirations, the India Pavilion will throw the spotlight on its trade, talent, tourism and technology. On display will also be art installations depicting advances in space alongside music, dance, food and literary shows among other things. AlAnsaari shares, “Building on the country’s culture, heritage and technologies, including its space programme, it will reflect ‘new India’, showcasing the strengths of its human resources and aspirations of its youth. It aims to highlight India’s strength in innovation and start-ups in tech industries, such as artificial intelligence and fintech, as well as tourism and hospitality, space, pharma, IT, renewable energy and telecoms. Indian-British film director, actor and producer Shekhar Kapur is advisor to Expo 2020; and world-renowned composer AR Rahman will mentor an all-women ensemble, the Firdaus Orchestra, which will premiere at Expo 2020.”


Disclaimer: This article is a part of featured content series on Business in Dubai

( Originally published on Sep 14, 2021 )