Multi-channel profits via TV

Changing the face of shopping from home through TV, HomeShop18 is redefining the consumer-retailer interface in more ways than one. Sundeep Malhotra, CEO, HomeShop18, shares his views on tele-shopping and why HomeShop18 is a cut above the rest.
Sundeep Malhotra

Changing the face of shopping from home through TV, HomeShop18 is redefining the consumer-retailer interface in more ways than one. Sundeep Malhotra, CEO, HomeShop18, shares his views on tele-shopping and why HomeShop18 is a cut above the rest. 

Jasmeet Sahi (JS): Tell us something about your journey so far. When did the idea of joining HomeShop18 come about?  
Sundeep Malhotra (SM):
We started around three years ago. Initially there were only questions; we were linked to tele-shopping and dubious products. Since this was a new business model for India, the consumer knowledge did not exist; we had to start everything from scratch. We wanted to change the legacy of home shopping whose name had been sullied by some previous attempts. In the beginning, there were not many people who believed this was possible. Not too many brands wanted to sell through us. But with time, things have changed. Today, we have a 600 member team and sell more than 20,000 SKUs. We distribute products to 2,700 cities and towns across India. We are India's first and only 24-hour shopping channel. We get a new customer every eight seconds. It has been an exciting journey.  

JS: Could you shed some light on the advent of tele-shopping in India? 
Before HomeShop18 introduced the concept of 24x7 home-shopping, India had only witnessed tele-shopping. It was about sauna belts, foreign anchors with Hindi dubbed sales pitches and one product being sold repeatedly again and again on multiple channels. Tele-shopping has been very tackily executed till date. It has acquired a questionable reputation and is now being parodied everywhere. Its “fly by night” mentality, made it difficult for a genuine and honest home shopping player like HomeShop18.

JS: How different is HomeShop18 with respect to conventional tele-shopping channels in India?
Tele-shopping is a one-product phenomenon. The model is a simple one – get one product, make its infomercial, buy airtime and the business rolls. Though the quality and claims of the products are dubious, the success of the model is born out by its continuing presence on expensive TV airtime. Home shopping is a completely different concept. We work with 400 brands and manage over 20,000 SKUs across different categories like electronics, apparel, jewellery, appliances, books, etc. 

We have gained consumer confidence through initiatives like “Cash on Delivery” and “No Questions Asked Money Back Guarantee”. Once consumers buy from us, then they keep coming back because of the superior experience we offer in terms of product quality and service.  

JS: Retailers always want to expand their reach and influence and television is fast becoming a channel for business. What are your thoughts on this?
Across industries, big brands, in spite of a strong distribution model can reach only limited cities in India. The smaller and regional brands who are either establishing themselves or do not have the strength of big distribution networks, do not have enough avenues to reach out to their audience pan-India. This limits their potential to which their business can grow. Television is possibly the best distribution platform since it reaches to more than 110 million households. However, it is not enough to be on TV, you have to take care of every element of the customer experience, like nationwide deliveries, 24x7 call centres etc.  

JS: Do you feel a retailer benefits more if (s) he utilises the platform of a television channel for business?
TV can help a retailer establish a wider footprint. We have partners from the retail industry who see the benefits of rapid market expansion through TV.  

JS: Is it correct to assume that the target clientele for a model like HomeShop18 is women sitting at home? 
A HomeShop18 customer can be either male or female. Our wide product range, affordable prices and robust fulfilment infrastructure ensure that the appeal of HomeShop18 cuts across gender and age groups. 

JS: What is the range of products that consumers can purchase from a portal like Homehop18? What can consumers look forward to, any new tie-ups?
We sell products from a variety of categories like electronics, mobile phones, home décor, appliances, jewellery, apparel, kids and toys, health and beauty etc. We have on board, around 400 brands and more than 20,000 SKUs. We have transformed the way brands get launched in India. Any company that wants to launch itself in India will have to bear huge expenses to build brand visibility nationally. We are the quickest and the most economically viable platform for brands to launch new products or for new brands to establish themselves in India today. This platform gives them access to close to 20 million viewers. In addition, we give a window for the brands to showcase their products at length. Reebok, Peter England, Whirlpool, Godrej, IFB, Onida, Samsung, etc are just few of the brands we work with.  

JS: What strategies does HomeShop18 employ to retain consumer interest? Don’t television programmes pose a stiff competition?
Customers come to HomeShop18 because they like our brand, our channel. They enjoy the content on our channel and find the promotional offers to be exciting. Our customers value the convenience of home shopping – Anytime, Anywhere Shopping! 

JS: Lastly, what are the challenges faced by a TV network and a business owner with respect to a multi-channel platform for business (both TV and the web)?
Home shopping is a complex business. It takes a lot to build the right consumer offers, to run a channel in the live format everyday, to service customer needs from all across the country. It is not easy to run a doorstep delivery that too in a “Cash on Delivery” mode. Most of all it’s difficult to find the talent that has the skills we need in this business.  


Sundeep Malhotra, CEO, HomeShop18