Monday 22 June 2015

We do not want to force our customers to use one specific medium to shop on Snapdeal: Rohit Bansal

Over 75 per cent of orders on Snapdeal come through the mobile but there are still many customers who use PCs to shop online, Rohit Bansal .

Snapdeal has been hiring a lot from many other industries - Jayant Sood from Bharti Airtel or Idi Srinivas from Coca-Cola and so on. Should we conclude that your industry does not have the kind of talent it needs to be able to realise its potential?

While the e-commerce industry in India is still in a nascent stage of growth where benchmarks for best practices are still to be set, the potential size of this industry is large and it will compete with the larger and much more mature sectors in the near future. In our current stage of operations, we are putting together the building blocks for a sustainable and flexible digital commerce ecosystem, so our hiring strategy is geared towards bringing talented individuals who have diverse experience in shaping businesses from scratch and also bring onboard the best practices from across industries.

There are talks of Snapdeal bringing global talent to India, with an emphasis on a new technology ecosystem and vertical specialists. How important are global best practices for local players, considering India is known to develop its own way of doing things across industries?

We are relentlessly working at creating life changing experiences for buyers and sellers in an industry where technology will be key to success. With the size and scale of our technology platform and our vision of where it is headed, we are working to build an absolutely world class technology team at Snapdeal. It is our stated plan to bring talented Indians from across the globe back to India because we can provide the right set of opportunities in building technology that'll make our country a better place. Further, the technology platform that we are building here requires experience in creating systems that haven't been built in India yet. So we are bringing on board talent from across the globe.

Snapdeal has seen robust traffic via m-commerce, with over 75 per cent orders coming through the mobile platform. At the same time, our data shows that there are still many customers who use PCs to shop online. We do not want to force our customers to use one specific medium to shop on Snapdeal.

In the five years of Snapdeal's existence, we have seen around eight acquisitions including the most recent, Freecharge. Are the days of organic growth in e-commerce over? 

Our approach to e-commerce is rather unique. We are focused on building an impactful digital commerce ecosystem in India that delivers life changing experiences to all our stakeholders. To do so, we believe that our platform needs to multidimensional and inclusive rather than being monolithic in nature. While we have been growing at a rapid pace organically, we have also taken the inorganic route and have made some major investments, acquisitions and partnerships to digitally enable our buyers and sellers as well as strengthen our logistics. We have partnered with likeminded entrepreneurs who support us in our vision.

At the centre of our ecosystem is the user account where consumers have stored their information. Layering this are the marketplaces, each serving a different consumer need - Snapdeal (products),FreeCharge (utilities: pay your bills, recharge your phone), Exclusively (luxury market place), RupeePower (market place loans, credit cards, and financial services). We will have others in the future which will cater to many other consumption needs of consumers.

The smaller cities form a majority of Snapdeal's user base. With your competition also eyeing the small-town pie, do you subscribe to the view that growth in e-commerce is going to come from non-metros in the future?

At present, nearly 70 per cent of the sales on our platform comes outside of the top 10 cities of the country. We believe everyone should be offered equal access, even people who do not have fancy smartphones or PCs and internet access. That segment comprises a large part of India's population, and if we want to build the best ecosystem of buyers and sellers, it is essential for us to reach out to this market where e-commerce is a need due to limited access to physical retail. India probably has 25-30 million buyers right now. If you want to get the next 50-100 million buyers into the fold, we will have to try out different strategies to enable access. Through initiatives like assisted e-commerce, we are enabling these 50-100 million people to start transacting online. Through DEN Snapdeal TV Shop, we are able to tap into the millions of TV watching households in the country.

How does an e-commerce company prepare itself for a war beyond pricing/discounting as the industry matures?

At Snapdeal, our aim is to become the best-in-class technology company. We believe in creating a strong ecosystem for business growth and sustenance. This calls for a multi-pronged approach to strengthen technology infrastructure, enhance customer purchase and after-sales experience, as well as provide an enabling environment for more and more sellers to enhance their market reach and business growth.

While great pricing will never go out of fashion, it is our business model that enables us to offer best prices to our customers. Our platform connects hundreds and thousands of large and small retailers and brands with millions of customers across the country. A seller on Snapdeal is able to reach a nationwide audience while saving on overhead costs like real estate, marketing etc. It is this benefit that is then passed on to the customers in form of access to high quality products at best prices.

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