IndiaMART: delivering a compelling experience for B2B buyers and suppliers with Google Cloud

About IndiaMART

IndiaMART is India’s largest online B2B marketplace with 60% share of the online B2B classifieds market. IndiaMART is used by small and medium enterprises, large enterprises, and individuals, with 5.5 million suppliers providing 60.7 million products from 138,000 categories to 82.7 million-plus buyers. Founded in 1999, IndiaMART’s mission is “to make doing business easy.”

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods, Technology
Location: India

With Google Cloud, IndiaMART has reduced average page load time by one second, improving customer experience, while achieving the scalability and availability needed to position the organization for long-term growth.

Google Cloud results

  • Scales to support continued growth in traffic
  • Delivers availability required to build confidence and business from users
  • Provides a platform that can meet demand for the next five to 10 years

B2B marketplace IndiaMART aims to help businesses escape the restrictions of traditional supply chains. By providing access to a digital platform optimized for access from desktops and mobile devices, businesses can improve their operations and generate more revenue. IndiaMART’s suite of services includes web storefront, enquiry support, priority listings, premium number services, a lead management system, and payment facilitation.

Improves customer experience by reducing average page load time by one second

IndiaMART also provides “behavior-based matchmaking” that identifies the supplier best equipped to meet buyer needs by product or service, category and location. IndiaMART then matches the designated suppliers with the buyers. Finally, IndiaMART operates as a “horizontal marketplace”—enabling suppliers to market to a large number of potential buyers—presenting a compelling offering for both groups.

Amarinder S. Dhaliwal, Chief Product Officer of IndiaMART, says once IndiaMART grew to a certain size, it benefited from a network effect—as more buyers used the marketplace, more suppliers came on board, prompting yet more buyers to access the service and so on. Suppliers becoming buyers and using IndiaMART to purchase products is another growth driver. “There is not just a network effect, but a community effect as well, as a supplier becomes a buyer,” says Dhaliwal. “This increases affinity, and supplier and buyer ‘lock-in’ to the marketplace increases multifold.”

Positioned to address challenges

IndiaMART’s proactive approach positioned the business well to address the challenges presented by new trends and market conditions. Traffic from mobile devices to its business-to-business marketplace has grown from about 30% to 75% over the last four years.

“Mobile traffic has grown at a compound annual growth rate of almost 100% over the same period,” says Dhaliwal. “The proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices has brought a considerable number of new users onto the internet and these users look for value—the right price from the right supplier,” he adds. “Furthermore, they can connect at any time and from any location they can access a network.”

The mobility revolution also challenged IndiaMART to provide a user interface and experience optimized for devices of various types and sizes—and that incorporated screens much smaller than the screens incorporated in desktops. The organization also had to help users overcome issues such as inconsistent network coverage and quality—particularly in remote areas.

Becoming a mobile-first organization

IndiaMART is responding by becoming, for buyers, a “mobile-first” organization that meets the group’s technical and user experience requirements.

IndiaMART is also adapting its marketplace to support two key trends:
• Buyers using long, conversational sentences to conduct online searches rather than simply typing in keywords
• Non English-users—the vast majority of people in India—stepping up their use of the marketplace

“We expect that, within a few years, we will have more non-English users than English users on IndiaMART,” says Dhaliwal.

IndiaMART is also benefiting from Indian government measures to reform taxation and stimulate the digital economy. “There has been a huge focus on areas such as digital payments and the digitization of identity,” says Dhaliwal. “We have embraced elements of this agenda by implementing a digital payment platform and are continuing to look at ways of providing new digital services to suppliers.

“Meanwhile, the Indian government’s recent implementation of GST allows us to validate suppliers’ businesses and bring more qualified, more verified suppliers on our platform—improving the experience for buyers and suppliers.”

IndiaMart office

Speed and reliability an issue

IndiaMART had started operations with servers, storage, networking, and associated systems co-located in a data center in the United States. However, as buyers and suppliers increasingly used mobile devices—over occasionally unreliable networks—to access the marketplace, access speeds and reliability became an issue. With most requests traveling between India and the United States, network latency was unacceptably high. Furthermore, business growth meant IndiaMART needed an environment that could scale to meet demand for the next five to 10 years.

IndiaMART opted for a multi-cloud architecture and established criteria for cloud providers to win its business. “We required an infrastructure that could scale and meet our demand for fast response time without putting our business at risk,” says Dhaliwal. “This meant taking a phased rather than one-shot approach to the migration. We also needed to minimize any wasteful duplication of infrastructure and reduce latency. In addition, as we scaled, we needed to protect our systems, transactions and information, including the details of buyers and suppliers.”

Google Cloud team’s high-quality support

The organization performed proof of concept with the three largest multinational cloud services providers and found Google Cloud was best positioned to act as the cornerstone of its multi-cloud architecture. “The Google Cloud team gave us considerable support in helping us run a proof of concept of its services,” says Dhaliwal.

“The proof of concept also illustrated that Google Cloud was superior to the other cloud services we looked at.

“We could run our marketplace across multiple geo-locations under a single IP address, avoiding duplication, and users in India could connect to Google Cloud via the closest access point, with their traffic passing quickly across the Google network.

“In addition, Google Cloud’s load balancing service would enable encryption between load balancing layers and back ends to ensure security, while all communication would move across Google’s own protected network.”

Being one of India’s early users of G Suite, the organization was also familiar with Google Cloud applications and services.

IndiaMART then opted to work with the Google Cloud team and a certified partner on a step-by-step implementation that minimized any risk of disruption.

Deep engagement from Google

“We engaged very deeply with both Google and the partner to complete this migration,” says Dhaliwal. “The Google team worked very hard to understand our requirements and provide a solution that catered to our needs and could be deployed in a phased manner.” The team ran workshops and technical sessions with IndiaMART and, at a Google Summit, connected the marketplace provider to Google experts in databases and infrastructure.

“These discussions really helped us formulate a strategy moving forward,” says Dhaliwal.

Based on input from Google and its own evaluation, IndiaMART developed an architecture comprising virtual machine instances delivered through Compute Engine, Google Cloud’s infrastructure-as-a-service offering; Cloud Load Balancing to support cloud resources distributed across multiple locations; Cloud Pub/Sub to provide enterprise messaging; and Cloud Dataflow to transform and enrich data.

Cloud Armor works with Cloud Load Balancing to defend against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks; and Geocoding API helps the organization convert geographic coordinates into readable addresses and vice versa. Cloud AutoML allows IndiaMART to train machine learning models to meet its requirements. With Geocoding API, IndiaMART can matchmake buyers and suppliers based on location—providing a high quality experience for both parties. Finally, AutoML Translation allows the organization to create a custom machine learning model that converts product names from English into Hindi and other languages, effectively opening up new markets for buyers and suppliers.

Phase one complete

IndiaMART has completed phase one of the migration that involved moving its web properties across to Google Cloud. The organization is now experimenting with moving its APIs and databases to the service and anticipates completing the exercise over the coming year.

Average page load time down

“With Google Cloud, buyers and suppliers can access our marketplace much faster than previously. This impacts positively on engagement, time spent on our marketplace, and the user’s entire journey with us.”

Amarinder S. Dhaliwal, Chief Product Officer, IndiaMART

The initial phase of the project has already delivered considerable benefits to IndiaMART. The organization has cut average page loading time from five seconds to three seconds, and Dhaliwal attributes close to one second of that reduction to the move to Google Cloud. “With Google Cloud, buyers and suppliers can access our marketplace much faster than previously,” says Dhaliwal. “This impacts positively on engagement, time spent on our marketplace, and the user’s entire journey with us.”

DDoS attack repelled

“Because we were on Google Cloud infrastructure, we could develop a solution to combat this severe DDoS attack. From a security perspective, this really justified our decision to go with Google Cloud."

Sunil Parolia, Sr. VP, IndiaMART

Google Cloud’s security features have already passed their first test. As IndiaMART undertook stage one of the migration, the business experienced a DDoS attack that generated request loads more than 400 times greater than normal. “Because we were on Google Cloud infrastructure, we could develop a solution to combat this severe DDoS attack,” says Sunil Parolia, Sr. VP at IndiaMART. “From a security perspective, this really justified our decision to go with Google Cloud.”

“Google Cloud will enable us to accommodate this traffic without compromising the experience we provide.”

Amarinder S. Dhaliwal, Chief Product Officer, IndiaMART

Google Cloud is also helping deliver the availability required by IndiaMART and the scalability to support growing demand. “As the number of people in India who access the internet grows from about 500 million to 700-800 million over the next couple of years, we will continue to build our traffic and be the dominant business-to-business platform,” says Dhaliwal. “On the supplier side, we expect to see more and more businesses come onto our marketplace—ranging from small-to-medium businesses up to larger brands. Google Cloud will enable us to accommodate this traffic without compromising the experience we provide.”

About IndiaMART

IndiaMART is India’s largest online B2B marketplace with 60% share of the online B2B classifieds market. IndiaMART is used by small and medium enterprises, large enterprises, and individuals, with 5.5 million suppliers providing 60.7 million products from 138,000 categories to 82.7 million-plus buyers. Founded in 1999, IndiaMART’s mission is “to make doing business easy.”

Industries: Retail & Consumer Goods, Technology
Location: India
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