Chief Marketing Officer | 05 Feb 2013
Mobile is really the most effective medium today to get the consumer on board. We reach out with offers and different types of communication. The launch of our m-commerce initiative will be a keen medium for advertising. According to a survey, 70 per cent of smart phone users are doing online shopping. That market is clearly very large already and with the growth of smart phones, it is going to increase. We are timing the launch of our m-commerce initiative in time to take advantage of this growth.
Rashmi Berry is the Chief Marketing Officer at HomeShop18 (TV, web & mobile). Berry has a modern approach towards marketing, wherein she combines the rigor of market analysis and consumer understanding with a strategic marketing approach to develop a compelling HomeShop18 brand. She has over 18 years of experience. Prior to Homeshop18, she had a stint with Hindustan Times Content and Syndication Services. Berry has been a part of various brands such as Moser Baer, Max Healthcare, Allout, HT Media, and so on.
In conversation with exchange4media’s Saloni Surti, Berry speaks about the performance of Homeshop18 in 2012, future of e-commerce and the rise of m-commerce in the country.
Q. What, according to you, have been the key factors that are contributing to growth of Homeshop18?
The basic factor that contributed to our growth is that overall we are a new shopping medium and adoption is high. New users anyways are moving towards the more familiar side as a natural instinct. Homeshop18 being present across all three platforms is probably the most convenient place for consumers. The biggest growth factor is that consumer behaviour and consumer buying patterns are changing. Second is that e-commerce as a category has received a lot of growth impetus by way of competition, rise in adoption rates, and of course, technology playing a big role in creating connectivity. We are enjoying growth as a result of these factors.
Q. Please highlight the marketing initiatives taken by Homeshop18 in the recent past.
We work at two levels – one, getting new users to try our various shopping options, which is largely mass marketing and includes television, radio, print (to some extent) and some outdoor. We are also aggressive on improving receipt and our relationship with interested customers, which is largely through CRM initiatives and digital marketing.
We also did a lot of digital based and social media activities and received very high impact from there. We ended up as No. 1 or No. 2 globally for that duration. At the global online shopping festival, we were one of the most aggressive players and the second highest shopped on website.
Q. What have been your advertising and marketing strategies for Homeshop18 as a brand?
There have been different kinds of strategies for different brands. In television, we have been the No. 1 player and we have been around since 2006. We’ve got a large national footprint across metros as well as in Tier I, II and III cities and towns. On the television front, our marketing strategy is to consolidate our leadership position, improve user experience and a lot of promotion and on television activity. We are more focussed on the channel, improving the product mix and user experience on delivery and service, and increasing excitement and interaction on television. For instance, we did a live show a couple of months ago, which helped us bring in new users and also improve ROI during the shows.
For the Homeshop18 website, the marketing strategy also includes mass marketing and aggressively focussing on new user acquisition. Currently, we are in the top five; our ambition is to be in the top two.
Q. Do you think efficient marketing and engagement can overcome the touch and feel barrier that a lot of consumers still feel?
There are numerous examples already in the market. For instance, the initial categories in e-commerce or teleshopping were largely digital, because for product such as a mobile phone, as long as one had seen it and tried it, he was okay to buy it online. Gradually, the product needs and portfolio have now shifted towards the lifestyle category, and apparel form a significant share of e-commerce and online shopping sites. Earlier, people were reluctant to buy apparel online as they first liked to try them out for fitting, check the shade and so on. All that has changed now, thanks to aggressive marketing and providing more user friendly features such as return back policy. This is especially important in new categories where the consumer is taking a risk because he/she is not able to touch or try the product.
E-commerce sites need to showcase a wide range of products and categories online that the consumers might not have access to in a physical store, which is a big driver. Second driver is how close a touch and feel experience you can give to the consumer. A lot of websites, including Homeshop18, now have a feature wherein the apparels can be magnified it to a large extent and seen from various angles, besides product specifications such as size and dimension, to create a far more user friendly experience.
Q. Mobile marketing and advertising have emerged as strong mediums to reach out to the TG. How do you plan to leverage this medium?
We use some amount of mobile marketing, which is more direct marketing to our existing user base. Mobile is really the most effective medium today to get the consumer on board. We reach out with offers and different types of communication. The launch of our m-commerce initiative will be a keen medium for advertising.
Q. Has the increasing consumption of content through smart phones given rise to any new trend in terms of e-commerce?
According to a survey, 70 per cent of smart phone users are doing online shopping, thus our m-commerce initiative is very important. That market is clearly very large already and with the growth of smart phones, it is going to increase. We are timing the launch of our m-commerce initiative in time to take advantage of this growth.
Q. What is Homeshop18’s strategy to be different amid the fierce competition seen in the e-commerce space?
There are a lot of things that we do differently and we will continue to do differently. First, we are the only players who are present across web, mobile and across any new medium that would come forward soon. We are available in every possible virtual shopping medium that is a big differentiator. We see a lot of our consumers going through all the three mediums that we provide. They see the television channel, view the product in the advertisement and then go back to the website and place the order, or they might go to the website and find that they do not have enough details on the product and they might tune in to the channel to actually see the product, to see the demonstration and then buy the product.
Secondly, we are one of the few players that offer an extremely wide range of product categories online. Most players today are present in one or two categories, we are present in every category – from digital, books, lifestyle, home and kitchen to kids and toys, which will continue to be a differentiator. We will continue to offer consumers the widest possible range of products across categories and brands.
Thirdly, Homeshop18 is expanding to most cities and towns of India; we have the widest distribution. With e-commerce and m-commerce now penetrating into Tier II and Tier III towns, it will continue to be an opportunity for us and we will expand faster since we already have a headway in terms of the number of markets and towns that we are present in. Lastly, we have better customer service.
Q. Please share your wish list for 2013.
In 2013, we wish to be among the top two e-commerce websites, and in the process of working towards that goal, we want to achieve a number of other things. We shall introduce a range of new products and brands that were not seen before and to raise the benchmark higher and achieve it.