E-commerce growth is on an upswing in India and the number of e-commerce sites has swelled in the last 3-4 years. However, the sector is still in its infancy as the players find their way around and there are several issues that need to be addressed on an immediate basis. Primary among these is building trust and creating differentiation, besides efficient supply chain management.
Industry experts moot using both traditional and new media, such as television and social media, for brand building.
Initially e-commerce companies was about starting a database and the value was in managing that database, said Manish Vij, entrepreneur. There are companies that get their supply chain and pricing categories right that will win; and companies focusing on vouchers need to get brand building activities right. “You have to ask yourself are you a Big Bazaar or a local kirana. And the need is to go beyond voucherisation.”
For e-commerce, not only in India but anywhere in the world, the capital strategy is very core to success or failure, said Manchanda. That’s one lever in the journey, but there are levers you can control and some you don’t control. “Being nimble and adapting yourself is the key,” he added.
In the US, there are big successful e-commerce sites which were single product eg protein body-building, which continuously innovated with ads; there must be some opportunity here; but here in India, we don’t see them sharing their experiences, according to Roy de Souza, CEO, Zedo.
Use of TV to drive trust
For e-commerce companies the use of the TV medium would drive trust, in a big way. Neetu Bhatia, Co-founder, Chairman & CEO, KyaZoonga.com shared that they had been on TV as far as concerts, cricket matches went; it was interesting as “TV does build credibility and tries to get mind share”. TV can be an experience, and there are ways to optimize that. It was observed that Google never used TV, but now they are on TV. Rungta disclosed that they are not on traditional media, and there use 80 to 95% online media; so they got a chance to explore the traditional media like TV and radio. Recalling his days at yatra.com, which entered late but since they were on TV, people thought they were a 5-year old company. “TV makes you visible and helps build audience faster and trust and gives you credibility,” he said.
Speaking on the importance of brand image building, Tiwari, said, “I don’t think actual ecommerce is happening today. There’s no brand imagery created between the consumers and the brand.” If you see globally, ecommerce companies are attached to their own brand.; but here you don’t have that connect. Visibility of brand strength must be built and that is what they were doing at Philips.
How important is social?
There are many challenges today as far as usage of social media is concerned. Something coming up strong is social media, said Manu Kumar Jain, co-founder, Jabong.com. In agreement, was Suneet Manchanda, co-founder & COO ladyblush.com who pointed out that logically social plays a critical role, and that they were already doing activities on Facebook .
Social media is not just about ‘likes’, but there should be consumer engagement. Nikhil Rungta, Country Marketing Head, Google.com, observed that more than ‘likes’ or a comment someone makes, there should be ‘engagement’ built with the consumers. Adding to this thought was Amit Tiwari, Country Head Media & Digital, Philips India as he said that everybody was concentrating on ‘likes’ and nobody has gone to study the segmentation of ‘likes’. “Likes are random or bought, it’s not geo-targetting . It has been seen that 54% ‘likes’ are not your TG, so the question is – are they relevant?” he added. It’s not the number of ‘likes’, but the quality of ‘likes’, and whether they are value-adding, said Jain.
As far as social media goes, there are a lot of fan pages, but “no one is getting it right” pointed out Manchanda. He recalled how they had run ‘What is your Blush moment?’ promotion, and suddenly they saw engagement and “the curve went up”. How you drive that relevance and connect with the user is what is of the essence.
The panellists were speaking at the Pitch Roundtable on E-commerce, held in Delhi on August 31. The theme was ‘E-commerce: The third wind’.