eBay, dubbed as the online marketplace, is trying out new ventures including moving into the offline world. In this conversation with exchange4media, Rathin Lahiri, Head of Marketing, eBay India, points out that the rate of growth of Internet users is close to 25 per cent of the population, and that there are close to 2 million eBay users from among the 30 million Net users in India.
Stressing that the availability of better brands and deals on the site has helped them improve customer satisfaction and thereby stickiness, he added that word-of-mouth publicity has helped them tremendously. Speaking on the various marketing initiatives from eBay, Lahiri cited the examples of ‘Dreamhouse’ and ‘Bid for a Buck’ as two 360-degree marketing events that helped them publicise the website. While Mandira Bedi was the face of the former one, the ‘Bid for a Buck’ is an ongoing activity.
For the latter, eBay continues to use the online medium as its primary promotional channel. “We prefer to promote the offerings online as it’s extremely ROI focussed. But, now we are beginning to experiment and look at media which can get us saliency – like radio,” Lahiri said. eBay already has tie-ups with portals like Yahoo! and MSN to power their shopping sections.
Speaking on future plans, Lahiri talked about eBay’s plans to go offline. “eBay has already started the offline initiatives, albeit in beta phase, by converting cybercafés to trading posts, where users can come and list their products to be sold through the website,” he divulged. eBay plans to roll out this feature completely by late 2007.
Elaborating more on the branded sub-sections available on the site, Lahiri observed, “This is an opportunity for brands to use it as a channel of distribution. They can use it as an alternate channel of selling as the entry barrier is minimised for brands to come online through us.”
When asked about the role of local languages in India for eBay, he observed that language was not a barrier as of now, but by 2010 local languages would be vital for any dotcom.
All these online and offline initiatives from eBay further establish the growth of Internet in India. With Net users discovering more options other than email, transactional activities over the Internet is bound to increase manifold in the coming years or even months.