Indians by nature are value conscious and thus mobile assisted commerce has picked up significantly in India and is expected to grow in the country says Muralikrishnan B – Country Manager, eBay India. The online retailer clocked in revenues of US$ 5 bn globally from mobile commerce in 2011 and expects to hit the US$ 8 bn mark in 2012.
Q. What is your assessment of the e-commerce market in India? How is it different from online retail market in other countries?
Globally, e-commerce industry was estimated at US$1.6 trillion in 2011. International markets such as the US and Europe are mature markets with deep penetration of Internet, modern retail and e-commerce. In the West, consumers are more evolved, off-line and online boundaries have blurred and shopping is now in the consumer’s pocket with the advent of mobile commerce. Comparatively, India has diverse regions; Internet and modern retail are still deepening their reach to Bharat (tier II and III cities) and rural India. Though e-commerce in India is in a nascent stage, it is evolving at a rapid clip. It is likely to be larger than modern retail in India faster than expected. In a recent report, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) estimated Indian e-commerce market to be worth Rs 46,520 crore or USD 10 bn in 2011 having an online shopper base of around 10 million consumers.
Q. Where does online retail stand in comparison to brick-and-mortar retail in India?
Modern retail forms 5 percent of India’s overall retail market. Online retail is presently a very small percentage of the country’s modern retail, but is growing rapidly. The e-commerce market grew at a healthy 40 percent year-on-year rate in 2011 and is estimated to grow at over 80 percent year-on-year in 2012.
Q. What are the trends that you foresee in the Indian e-commerce industry?
The sector as a whole is expanding fast offering great opportunities for online shoppers as well as online merchants. The major trends in the e-commerce industry that we foresee are:
-Growth in women shoppers: Women are becoming increasingly active in shopping online and this will lead to a change in the product offerings of e-commerce players, which means lifestyle products will take lead.
-Rural India and Bharat: Rural and Bharat (tier II and III cities) are now firmly on the e-commerce map and the key driver is access to products not available in their city or town. With further increase in Internet penetration, tier II and III cities will become large e-commerce hubs.
-Brands set their sights on online stores: Canny marketers follow their customers. As an estimated 100 million Indians spend their time online consuming content, communicating and even indulging in commerce, brands are setting up online storefronts to cater to this demand. From a dedicated storefront on e-commerce websites to special promotions and stand-alone e-commerce enabled websites, brands are going to come online in a big way and invest in servicing this distributed but significant customer base.
-Mobile commerce: Another big impetus to e-commerce in India is mobile commerce. Presently, mobile assisted commerce has picked up significantly in India and is expected to grow in the country. Mobile assisted commerce enables consumers to check prices online using mobile applications and making purchases after comparing prices.
-Entrepreneurship: The Indian seller is very entrepreneurial and does not just trade with consumers across the country as well as exports a variety of hand crafted goods global buyers across the world. The number of entrepreneurs having the Internet as their key driver will grow with growing awareness of the multiple uses of the virtual medium. We definitely see retail exports a growing trend.
Q. What are the top selling products on eBay India?
The top selling products on an average day on eBay India include mobile accessories, coin/note, jewellery, mobile handset, pen drive, health/ beauty products, apparel, stamps, home décor items, car/ bike accessories, watches, toys, fitness and sports items, laptops, books, home appliances, digital cameras and MP3 players.
Q. Have you witnessed any changes over the years in terms of customer preferences and sale of products over eBay India?
In the early years of e-commerce, online shoppers were more comfortable buying books and gifts. As consumers have gained confidence and e-commerce has become more mainstream, gadget purchases have gained traction and now consumers have evolved to buying even lifestyle products like jewellery, watches, fragrances and apparel online. We have also seen an evolution in payment methods to over 90 percent of all payments on eBay India being via PaisaPay (electronic payments via credit card, debit card, net banking) from less than 15 percent in the early days.
Q. What is your marketing strategy in India to increase the sale of products?
As more women shoppers are latching onto online shopping, we are looking at extending our lifestyle offering by getting premium domestic and international brands to open stores on eBay India. Furthermore, our focus on encouraging Indian SMEs for retail exports remains the same. Mobile commerce is also a big focus area, wherein we have recently launched a suite of mobile applications enabling access to eBay India on smartphones. Indians by nature are value conscious and thus mobile assisted commerce has picked up significantly in India and is expected to grow in the country.
Q. What are the main challenges you face in India running an e-commerce website such as eBay?
We need to actively evangalise the benefits to consumers as well as to brands and merchants. The logistics ecosystem also needs to evolve to support quick delivery to the vast geography of tier II and III as well as rural India. Broadband and 3G are helping to strengthen the infrastructure of Internet connectivity.
Q. What kind of people or companies sell products over eBay?
eBay India gives retailers from across the country a platform to start their business online. We have enabled sellers from the remotest corner of India to set up their shops online and reach out to domestic and international consumers who would not have heard of them otherwise. Our seller profile is extremely diverse as any credible entrepreneur can sell on eBay India. We have retailers, distributors, manufacturers, importers, exporters, etc. selling on eBay.
Women too have developed successful businesses through eBay. We have a lot of women who sell jewellery, handbags, accessories and more. This apart, reputed brands such as FabIndia, Catwalk, Titan, Puma, Killer Jeans, Lawman, Casio, Reebok amongst others have their stores on eBay India.
Q. Are eBay exports from India significant? Can you give us some statistics?
The Indian export market presents a story of exuberant growth, driven mainly by artisans and small-scale manufacturers. India has a unique strength in hand-crafted value oriented product lines such as diamonds, jewellery, ethnic Indian clothing and handicrafts, which eBay sellers are capitalising through retail exports to more than 189 countries buying from eBay India.
Setting up their shops online, gives our sellers an exposure to a broad consumer base of around 100 million, both domestic and international. eBay helps Indian manufacturers create a global market for categories where the country has developed particular manufacturing expertise-scientific instruments, optics, leather products, sporting goods and Bollywood inspired fashions (silk sarees, salwar kameez and kurtis). Sales from large Indian retail exporters on eBay grew 85 percent year-on-year, the second fastest across the Asia Pacific region. Apart from jewellery, clothing and handicrafts, the other large categories in which India exporters sell are photographic equipments, collectibles such as coins, stamps, Bollywood posters and LP records.
Q. What are the future plans of eBay India? What new initiatives are you planning?
Ebay India plans to step-up jump trials and bring the benefits of e-commerce to a whole new audience, continue expanding the market, focus on enhancing user experience, pioneer mobile commerce. We have recently launched a suite of mobile applications across platforms to enable shopping on eBay India through a variety of smartphones. We plan to introduce more innovations in the mobile commerce segment.
Q. Are you looking to acquire any Indian company in the near future as part of your growth strategy?
Three main reasons for which eBay would look at acquiring are to strengthen new business development, gain geographic expansion and add technological expertise.
Q. What is the growth rate in terms of revenue that eBay is experiencing in India year-on-year?
Presently, eBay India is growing faster than the industry growth rate of 70 percent year-on-year and we will continue to do so.
Q. With players like Amazon in online retail how does eBay plan to remain competitive globally?
At this stage, more reputed players will help expand the e-commerce market and create awareness. We don’t see the influx of global players affecting the e-commerce market leadership that we have already created over the last seven years as eBay India.
Q. What kind of support do you expect from the Indian government to strengthen e-commerce in the country?
eBay is a marketplace that facilitates small entrepreneurs/enterprises and brands to sell through our portal. We would hence like to see the interests of small businesses safeguarded with an opportunity to participate and benefit from the retail boom. SMEs in retail exports face tremendous documentations for exporting merchandise to international buyers through e-commerce website. We hope the Indian government will take a closer look at such pain points and simplify processes for Indian SMEs.
Q. Tell us something about your mobile commerce strategy for India.
eBay clocked in revenues of US$ 5 bn globally from mobile commerce in 2011 and expects to hit the US$ 8 bn mark in 2012. Over 65 million consumers across the globe use eBay applications on various platforms such as smartphones and tablets.
eBay India has launched a mobile application which gave its users a new way to shop on the Mobile. Mobile commerce provides Indian online shoppers an opportunity to access eBay anytime, anywhere, bringing even more convenience to the way Indians shop. eBay India Mobile Web is designed for any GPRS/EDGE/3G enabled feature phone and provides an end-to-end transaction platform for consumers to find, buy and pay for products online. eBay India has also introduced a suite of Mobile Apps for the iPhone, Nokia and the Android allowing users to shop conveniently from their mobile device.