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Manish Agarwal

CEO | 06 Dec 2012

Absence of consumer grievance redressal systems and complete apathy towards consumer satisfaction, barring a few online retailers, makes the Indian consumer very reluctant to accept a shipment without checking the quality of goods, particularly in categories where there is complete lack of standardisation. Huge focus on building consumer confidence and trust is necessary to overcome the touch and feel mentality of the Indian consumers.

Manish Agarwal, CEO, Reliance Entertainment Digital heads the operations of Big Flix, Big Adda, Zapak Digital Entertainment, Big Oye and Zapak Mobiles. He has been in the industry for over 14 years and has worked with companies such as Microsoft, Rediff and UTV New Media. With over six years dedicated to the digital industry, Agarwal understands consumer behaviour and e-commerce trends to the core.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Saloni Surti, Agarwal speaks about how the evolution of the e-commerce industry, the key growth drivers, measurement metrics and more...

Q. How has the e-commerce industry in India evolved over the years?

E-commerce has evolved from being a very niche service in early 2005 to mass service which appeals to millions of Indians. Today, e-commerce brands have become household brands and even non-internet savvy consumers check via their friends/ relatives for deals or for prices before they make offline purchase. E-commerce business has also crossed the big barrier of consumers’ aversion to using credit card for online shopping. However, e-commerce business continues to struggle with the ‘cash on delivery’ phenomenon owing to Indian’s penchant for touch and feel and unwillingness to make advance payment for goods purchased.

Q. Do you think the Indians’ preference for touch and feel acts as a barrier to the growth of e-commerce in the country?

Indian consumers are very risk averse, and given the over-arching malpractices associated with the ‘local baniya’, consumers do not trust any retailer on the product they are going to receive. This aspect has been compounded by poor quality consciousness within lots of online retailers as most of them sell non-branded goods online on account of higher product margins. Absence of consumer grievance redressal systems and complete apathy towards consumer satisfaction, barring a few online retailers, makes the Indian consumer very reluctant to accept a shipment without checking the quality of goods, particularly in categories where there is complete lack of standardisation.

Huge focus on building consumer confidence and trust is necessary to overcome the touch and feel mentality of the Indian consumers, which would in turn result in more pure online transactions and e-commerce not being so heavily dependent on cash on delivery.

Q. What is your consumer profile like? Please elaborate on your TG.

E-commerce target audience in India can be segmented by need-based segregation. Most of the consumers are looking for end of life products where they can get good deals. A consumer looking for early life products is a small segment and since early adopters are more prominent in the tech gadgets space, access to global sites with international shipping fulfills the need to own technical gadgets before others. Convenience is not the most prominent driver and deal seekers dominate e-commerce in India.

Q. Advertisers were initially not open to e-commerce websites. Do you think they have evolved to accept e-commerce websites as a media tool?

Advertising via e-commerce sites does not follow the typical CPM/CPC models as volumes and inventory would not be sufficient for performance-based business model to be available. However, given that discovery of offers and items on large e-commerce portals is an issue and ‘jo dikhta hain woh bikta hain’ is very true for consumers who are first time internet users, product merchandise on e-commerce sites would be great drivers for sampling and off-take. E-commerce companies worldwide have looked at super specialty branded stores on their sites as another way of showcasing brands to their visitors. As the volume of visitors keeps on increasing, brands would look at e-commerce site promotion as further extension of modern trade merchandise and promotion.

Q. Please highlight the marketing initiatives taken by Reliance Digital to create traction on the website.

We get audience from small towns on Big Adda who are seeking deals in tech gadgets and accessories. Big Adda has gamified purchase behaviour to get more repeat users. Big Adda has also launched a scheme of ‘lucky draw’ on the site. For instance, users can win Rs 299 data storage device by bidding for Rs 10. It is a weekly lucky draw and the winner is showcased on FB and Big Adda site.

Q. Lack of definite metrics is considered to be a major drawback across the digital platform. Please share your views on it. Do you follow any particular metrics?

In mobile gaming, movies-on-demand and e-commerce businesses, we have very clear KPIs and dashboards across all aspects – acquisition, engagement, retention and monetisation. We consistently monitor most of these metrics across all businesses – daily unique visitors, monthly unique visitors, average time per visit, average time spent per month per visitor, average revenue per user, life time value of the user and churn rate of the users, besides user acquisition parameters.

Q. What are your plans for 2013?

We are looking at discontinuous growth through couple of disruptions in the Indian digital entertainment space – offering millions of Indians in India and abroad daily/ monthly movie subscription service on their handheld devices, bringing freemium gaming model across all phones in India and launching cross-platform social mobile games around local IPs.

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