Ecommerce in India is going through a growth spurt. Starting a new website on a unique idea is not a tough one but maintaining one is with operational costs going higher and consumers still not ready to make distinctive purchases. As more and more websites are shutting shop, we ask the big daddys of the industry, what it takes to stay afloat. In conversation with Sweta Pal,Deepa Thomas, eCommerce Evangelist, eBay India talks about how eBay India maintains its position in the market.
Sweta Pal (SP): There is no dearth of websites that allow buyers and sellers to interact. How is eBay keeping above the competition?
Deepa Thomas (DT): eBay India is the one of India’s leading eCommerce marketplace and allows buyers and sellers to interactand engage in trade on an easy and trusted platform. Consumers can choose from a wide variety of products across 2,000 product categories from 3 million live listings, backed by initiatives such as PaisaPay and eBay Guarantee. This covers technology, lifestyle, collectibles and media vertical categories. Other than this, shoppers can also choose from over 18 million items from the US on Global EasyBuy, the international import hub.
SP: How does eBay go the extra mile to satisfy customers?
DT: The most distinguishing factor is the eBay Guarantee that offers all our buyers a replacement or refund on all transactions in case they are not completely satisfied with the product. The service is aimed at instilling consumer confidence in online shopping, promising a satisfaction-guaranteed experience of getting the product they selected and paid for. Alongwith this, PaisaPay, eBay’s secure payment gateway, allows consumers to pay conveniently through credit card, debit card, net banking or EMI. The payment is only released to the seller once the buyer confirms receipt of the item.
SP: Please elaborate on your expansion plans and social media marketing.
DT: We are focused on evangelize eCommerce to industry, brands, retailers, entrepreneurs and consumers. In addition, we are constantly looking at ways of enhancing the user experience both on the web and the mobile. eBay India has a significant presence on Facebook with more than 2.2 million fans. We get a sizeable chunk of daily traffic from social media channels as consumers are already engaged. We have also been able to engage in straightforward dialogues to a large number of people especially women who form a large base on our Facebook page. We also have a growing presence on Twitter and other social media platforms such as Pinterest and Google Circles.
SP: Please share numbers on which category shows the most sales and traffic.
DT: According to the eBay India Census 2012, electronics continue to dominate purchases and hold share at 48 per cent of domestic transactions. Lifestyle categories have grown phenomenally over the last 18 months with a 41 per cent share of purchases. On eBay India, a mobile accessory sells every one minute while a mobile handset sells every two minutes. Home and kitchen products show the same frequency.
SP: What in your opinion are the challenges and advantages of operating a market place model? Why did you prefer it over inventory based platform?
DT: A marketplace like ours is a platform that facilitates trade between sellers and buyers. We enable sellers to directly engage with our five million strong consumer base as well as export to 116 million active users worldwide. An online marketplace provides faster growth avenues at a lower-cost of distribution and increases sales as the seller can now reach a broad spectrum of consumers across geographies. The model is beneficial for sellers as we takes care of marketing, payments, trust and sellers can instead focus on sourcing and customer service. A marketplace platform thus reduces working capital requirements and operational costs. We can also offer a wider range of products.
SP: How do you ensure customer satisfaction and value for money when the products are being supplied by merchants?
DT: At eBay we provide our customers with daily deals and many other offers by engaging with sellers regularly. On the seller front, we ensure that all products are listed by genuine verified sellers. The eBay Trust and Safety team reviews the seller’s feedback from buyers frequently to ensure sellers with low customer experience focus are removed from the site.
SP: What is a better business prospect – in house logistics or outsourced logistics? Share your views in an elaborative manner
DT: Keeping in mind the country’s infrastructural constraints, we feel experienced logistics companies are best equipped to ensure timely delivery. In order to better our supply services, we introduced PowerShip last year. PowerShip is a logistics management service for eBay merchants which significantly enhances the efficiency of managing multiple item shipments and delivery of items to eBay India buyers. We’ve engaged with Bluedart, DTDC, Fedex and Aramax for this initiative.