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Muralikrishnan B

Country Manager | 24 May 2012

We prefer to focus on internet and social media marketing all year round as it targets the online user and helps convert them to online shopping. For eBay India, we recently launched our integrated marketing campaign ‘Want it. Get it’, which includes a series of TVCs where eBay is positioned as a ‘want satiator’. Along with that, we have also rolled out multi-media and OOH campaigns.

Muralikrishnan B leads the eBay business in India and is an active evangelist of e-commerce’s transformational potential for both, Indian online shoppers and entrepreneurs. He joined eBay India in 2005 and has held a variety of leadership roles, most recent being that of Senior Director – Marketing and Product Management. In this interaction with exchange4media’s Rahul Dubey, Muralikrishnan speaks about the factors that are driving the growth of e-commerce in India and road ahead for eBay.

Q. You have been in the e-commerce industry for long. What is the behavioural pattern of Indian buyers and sellers online? What are the most preferred categories in the e-commerce space?

Initially, Indian consumers were apprehensive about shopping online and their frequency of purchase was low. Over time, their inhibitions have reduced and they are now browsing more often and making regular purchases. As opposed to popular belief, Indians are not hesitant to make high value purchases online and are willing to experiment with their purchases. They appreciate the variety offered by online shopping portals and scroll through to get the best deals that offer value for money. Gadgets are sold the most on eBay India, followed by lifestyle products and collectibles.

Q. What opportunities do you foresee in the mobile commerce business? When, according to you, will mobile commerce reach the inflection point in India?

Mobile commerce is starting to gain traction in India with the burgeoning penetration of smartphones and a large number of Indians using their smartphones to shop as well as compare prices. According to eBay India, m-commerce will continue to grow steadily as more advanced wireless handheld accessories become available, more applications are released to facilitate ‘anywhere shopping’ and retailers get on board with the technology. We believe that m-commerce will redefine the way consumers find, shop and pay.

Q. Despite various payment solution offerings, the challenge of cash on delivery continues. How do you plan to tackle this issue in the long-term?

From the payment perspective, we offer various options such as secure online payments via PaisaPay (debit cards, credit cards, net banking, EMIs) as well as cheque, demand draft and cash on delivery. Of all these methods, cash on delivery is the least used method on eBay India and forms less than five per cent of all our payments. Over 90 per cent of eBay customers prefer to pay via PaisaPay. Cash on delivery as a business model has its pros and cons. It is a good model for new e-commerce entrants as trust levels are low. However, it is not a sustainable model to follow. The expenses involved in physically collecting cash, higher rejection rates and longer turnaround time to receive money make cash on delivery a less efficient model to sell merchandise online.

Q. You have intensified marketing activities recently. What are the marketing initiatives you are undertaking to build your brand?

We prefer to focus on internet and social media marketing all year round as it targets the online user and helps convert them to online shopping. For eBay India, we recently launched our integrated marketing campaign ‘Want it. Get it’, which includes a series of TVCs where eBay is positioned as a ‘want satiator’. Along with that, we have also rolled out multi-media and OOH campaigns. Additionally, we have partnered with PVR Cinemas in more than 20 locations as well as Café Coffee Day for in-café branding opportunities.

Q. What is your consumer profile like?

eBay India caters to consumers across all age groups as anyone over 18 years is eligible to register on eBay and shop online. The core target audience is primarily male, in the 18-34 age group. Interestingly, many women shoppers are becoming active online shoppers now. We have over three million registered users, who come from over 3,311 cities in India. Over 50 per cent of eBay India’s business comes from non-metro cities, which clearly brings out our penetration in India.

Q. What is your current growth rate and what are your growth expectations? Please share your plans ahead.

Our corporate disclosure policy doesn’t allow us to divulge such figures. However, on an average, eight products are bought every minute on eBay India. According to a recent IAMAI report, the Indian e-commerce industry is pegged to grow at over 70 per cent and we are growing faster than the market. We plan to further accelerate this growth by enhancing our services through constant innovation. We plan to focus not only on our buyers, but also our sellers, who have been vital partners to our success. eBay India will continue to build focus on brand eBay across traditional, digital and social media channels.

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