Physical retail will never be able to compete with e-commerce: Ashish Hemrajani, Bigtree Ent

Physical retail will never be able to compete with e-commerce: Ashish Hemrajani, Bigtree Ent

Author | Preeti Hoon | Monday, Oct 11,2010 8:15 AM

Physical retail will never be able to compete with e-commerce: Ashish Hemrajani, Bigtree Ent

In its aim to capitalise on the 30 per cent per annum estimated growth of e-commerce in India, is making strategic moves towards digital. In an exclusive conversation with exchange4media, Ashish Hemrajani, Founder-CEO, Bigtree Entertainment, talks about the portal’s initiatives in the digital space and the future of online booking industry.

The entertainment ticketing website completed its three years of existence in August 2010 and simultaneously launched a ‘Prebook Application’ for Facebook, called ‘Ticket Buddy’, and revamped Prebook on, which is believed to be first-of-its kind in India. The social e-commerce tool allows customers to book movie tickets much before the plans open in cinemas and is accessible in 86 cities across the country.

Almost two months later, the portal announced its latest innovation in the online ticketing space with the launch of ticket booking application for BlackBerry smartphones. This will allow BlackBerry users in India to book tickets with a few simple clicks while on the move.

On the plans ahead, Hemrajani said, “I think the idea is to ensure that we are present where the customers/ users are. I don’t think there is a specific plan that we need to drive, rather it is a question of fulfilling customers’ needs and requirements. So, if we were a retail shop, we would never have opened a store in Lower Parel or Gurgaon 5-7 years ago. But would you ignore them today is the question.”

When asked about the expected increase in ticket sales after launching the social services, Hemrajani replied, “The whole idea behind being present on platforms such as these is to grow with the natural progression of the customer. I am not sure how much it will increase our sales, but over a period of time it certainly will contribute larger volumes than it currently does in our overall sales channel mix.”

BlackBerry subscribers can download the free app by visiting and clicking on the applications page tab. The customer can enter his mobile number in the text box and receive a link to download app via SMS. It can also be downloaded from BlackBerry App World.

The portal is one of the top five transacted websites in the country and has ticketed for over 750 screens across 86 cities. It has partnerships with all major Indian production houses and studios with real time ticketing for most major cinema chains.

The digital medium has certainly worked well for the brand. So, how is the source of communication triggering the growth of online booking industry? To this, Hemrajani replied, “The ecosystem has been maturing over the past few years in the digital medium space. You now have higher bandwidths, higher penetration of Internet at home and office, mobile and smart devices, GPRS, BB and, now 3G connectivity, datacards and the first steps of WiMax connectivity for cities. All of these add to a higher propensity to consume goods and services online. It is also aided by the fact that India has been very good at moving quickly in restoring confidence for online payments by implementing 3D security, banks have been active in pushing netbanking, debit cards and now mobile companies are playing their part in mobile payments – all of these things add up.”

Discussing the upcoming trends, he remarked, “From a qualitative point of view, I think it’s going to grow exponentially due to lack of spare time of people, ease and convenience of information/ comparisons available online, and finally, the choice of goods and services available. Physical retail will never be able to compete on these parameters. While it has its own advantages of a physical touch and feel. Therefore, there are some categories that will continue to flourish and grow such as ticking, entertainment VAS, electronic goods and services, customised products, geographic seller/ buyer spreads, etc.”

Giving the quantitative point of view, he further said, “E-commerce in India is expected to grow at about 30 per cent per annum. A large part, that is, over 50 per cent, is still dominated by banking, bill payments and other such transactions. In the consumer space, travel still manages to hold on to a lion’s share of the business.”

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