May 2017

Transforming commerce, transforming India

Starting off with coal and steel, mjunction services limited has evolved into a B2B e-commerce full-service provider offering a wide range of services covering e-sales, e-sourcing, e-procurement, e-finance and loyalty solutions. mjunction is India's largest e-commerce company and runs the world's largest e-marketplace for steel. mjunction CEO Vinaya Varma talks about mjunction’s USPs, its roadmap for the future, leveraging new-age technologies, CSR and more.

What are the key factors that have contributed to mjunction’s success?
mjunction’s biggest achievement has been the cleaning up and disintermediation of supply chains of crucial national resources such as steel and coal. e-platforms have brought in transparency, efficiency and a level-playing field for both buyers and sellers besides ensuring market-determined prices through live and dynamic bidding. After coal and steel, the e-auction service has been extended to other sectors such as tea, idle assets, commercial paper and food grain.

Our governance of e-marketplace with thrust on fair play, transparency and customer centricity, has helped us stand apart from competition

The buyers and sellers who transact on our platforms are confident that they have access to one of the largest electronic marketplace, where transactions are conducted at fair and market-determined prices. It also helps them to reach out to a large community of buyers and sellers, efficiently and conveniently.

From steel, mjunction has expanded and added new product offerings. How has the journey been thus far?
Steel for us was just a stepping stone. Today, we exist along the entire B2B e-commerce spectrum and in diverse categories. Looking beyond metals and minerals, our offerings now include coal, e-procurement, idle assets, tea, ocean vessel chartering and even auction of telecom spectrum.

We are proud of the fact that we have added a new vertical or launched a new service every year since mjunction’s inception in 2001. Our latest achievement has been our foray into the commercial paper segment, where we aided transparent price discovery of commercial paper, for the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL).

In FY18, we plan to venture into rice and wheat e-auction for the Food Corporation of India (FCI), India’s largest warehouser of food grain. We also have several other segments in the pipeline – among them is forest produce.

How will mjunction benefit from its platform-based structure?
Similar services with common objectives and strategic focus have been grouped together into different verticals under the platform-based structure. These verticals encompass most of our services, some of which are core to the mjunction platforms and others, like financial services, knowledge services, etc. It also includes complementary add-ons like logistics and analytics.

The transition to the new structure would provide more clarity in operations and create greater value to the participants of mjunction’s platforms.

What is the future roadmap for mjunction?
In the short-term, mjunction will explore venturing into new categories – prime steel and agro products among others. As I said earlier, we plan to venture into rice and wheat e-auction in FY18. We also plan to expand our product portfolio, for e.g., build and launch e-procurement services as a product.

In the long-term, we plan to establish and expand our footprint firmly in other geographies through specific service offerings. We already have a footprint in Australia, Singapore and the UAE. We aspire to generate a topline of INR 500 crore by FY20.

We also plan to cash in on our superior technological infrastructure as well as big data analytic capabilities and machine learning, and focus on data driven operations and service innovation.

How does mjunction plan to leverage big data analytics and other new-age technologies?
We are upbeat about embracing new technologies. We are already using deep dive analytics for the integrated e-procurement platform currently being developed for the Chhattisgarh government as well as for our customized loyalty programs for clients.

We have been pro-active in harnessing technology since mjunction’s launch 16 years ago. We continue to be governed by the same philosophy and are excited about the possibilities of Big Data, Analytics, IoT or Machine Learning.

mjunction has partnered with the Chhattisgarh government to e-enable its departments. What are the facets of this partnership?
mjunction has designed an integrated e-procurement platform for the Chhattisgarh government. Based on advance business intelligence tools and unique algorithms, the analytics-powered e-procurement solution has a high degree of visibility and control. It also protects organizations / government departments against fraud, collusion and cartel formation between vendors.

Built-in approval and business rules processes serve as preventive tools. For example, matching purchases against business rules gives organizations additional real-time control before they make a payment.

The solution enables real-time monitoring and auditing of details of the vendors and procurements and if something seems amiss, there is a complete audit trail of who did what, when and why.

How successful have mjunction’s efforts been in making a tangible difference to the lives of the underprivileged communities?
ejunction, a trust promoted by mjunction, has been making a real and measurable difference to the lives of the underprivileged and financially challenged sections of society since its establishment in 2007.

ejunction imparts digital education to empower the poor. For the last four years ejunction had been focusing on creating employability of the people it has trained. Of the 15,000 trained so far, over 5,000 people have found employment. In FY17, 3616 people were trained and 1872 employment opportunities were created.

ejunction now has 41 dedicated centres spread across the states of Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Milestones

  • Telecom spectrum auction: mjunction was the only technically qualified service provider when it won the Department of Telecommunications contract for three years.
  • Commercial paper auction: Commercial paper worth INR 2425 crore sourced for SAIL.
  • e-distribution of coal: Extended service to Maharashtra; first phase services to the Maharashtra State Mining Corporation commenced in February 2017.
  • Joint venture with Axis Bank: The company provides online discounting of trade receivables to MSMEs.
  • e-auction of food grain: FCI has chosen mjunction to auction food grain and distribute it to a 4,000-strong buyer base across India.