'Apne Sapne Jee Kar Dekho', says the new campaign by leading e-commerce player Flipkart. The difference this time, however, is that the digital campaign executed by Lowe Lintas and Partners is talking to sellers and business owners, instead of buyers. Recently, Snapdeal and Shopclues also rolled out similar campaigns titled, 'Dil ki Deal' and 'Dhande ko online Lao', respectively. The shift in communication is apparent.
The e-commerce revolution is gaining momentum and is set to enter an exciting phase as traditional brick and mortar companies like Tata, Reliance Industries and Aditya Birla are expected to enter the space by the end of this year, as per a Business Standard Report. In such a scenario, it makes all the more sense for existing players to consolidate their positions.
Nagori infoms that the company aims at increasing its seller base, consisting of manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and small business owners, from 30,000 to one lakh by the end of this year. He also shares an insight about the increase in the number of sellers from smaller cities like Surat, Jaipur, Mysore, Kanpur, Varanasi, Trichy and Vishakhapatnam, to name a few.
Insisting on the need for a healthy seller base, Vishal Chadha, senior vice president - market development, Snapdeal, says that since sellers and business owners are a vital part of the e-commerce ecosystem, it is obvious to involve them in the brand communication. "Going to television is a natural progression for us as economies of scale begin to matter, especially since we have an ambitious goal of one million sellers. As category leaders, we are investing in growing awareness and in our brand proposition for sellers in the country," states Chadha.
According to the Nasscom Startup Report 2014, India is the fastest growing and third largest start-up ecosystem globally. A PWC study informs that, last year, the top 20 private equity deals in the e-commerce sector were pegged at approximately 3.6 billion USD. With such investments being made, it is obvious for these online marketplaces to capitalise on the thriving business ecosystem.
Another e-commerce platform ShopClues which has 1.5 lakh registered sellers at present, targets merchants with a turnover of Rs. 10-15 lakh who deal in unstructured categories of products such as fashion and kitchen, informs Nitin Agarwal, the company's senior director, marketing. Agarwal says that, unlike its competitors who began with select brands and categories, ShopClues has always been a marketplace with a focus on SMEs.
'The Google Story'
It could have been inadvertent or based on some foresight, but with its Tanjore painting ad for Chrome, Google was one of the first in the country to reach out to business owners for mutual benefit. Led by a strong demand for digital advertising from SMBs, it came up with Premier SME Partner Programme in 2012. Among the recent offerings from the company are the 'Google My Business' feature and app, and 'Google for Nonprofits'.
Google is currently investing in outreach in multiple ways, with their biggest acquisition channel being the digital medium. Other initiatives include the SME road shows, and working with agency and industry partners to host boot camps and workshops to create more awareness about the benefits of getting online for SMEs.
"Small businesses have been the key to Google's success from the beginning, and Google's long term success in India is linked with helping Indian SMBs succeed online. We want to digitise India and connect users with businesses across sectors and markets," adds Menon.
Menon informs that, with over 50 million SMEs in the country, less than five per cent of these businesses have web presence through websites. Their studies have shown that, on an average, web-enabled SMBs boasted 51 per cent higher revenues and 49 per cent more profit, than their offline-only counterparts.
Here to stay...
Bisen is positive about the expected entry of traditional retail giants into the e-commerce sector and thinks it will boost the overall industry. "Players may survive, modify, enter or exit, but then this churn is typical of a fast growing industry. A lot will depend on individual strategies," he notes, adding that although these companies are prominent in the physical space, they will be competing with established e-commerce platforms after a lag of six to seven years, which would balance the equation.
Like Hardikar, Bajpai is also an advocate of the digital medium, which he thinks beats all others in terms of "targeting" and "measurability."