eBay India: social media drives 12% daily traffic, Rural India contribute 9% online sales

Infotech Lead Asia: Muralikrishnan B, country manager, eBay India, says the company is growing faster than the industry rate and is seeing traction across categories from all parts of the country.

The eCommerce industry as a whole has seen tremendous growth over the last 18-24 months. According to the recent Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) report, the Indian eCommerce industry is pegged to grow at over 70 percent.

Muralikrishnan says technology has been the largest category for the e-commerce major followed by lifestyle, media and collectibles. The lifestyle category has been growing rapidly too with consumers coming on to eBay India for deeper and wider variety of products at best prices.

Muralikrishnan B, country manager, eBay India

Excerpts of an online interview:

What are your strategies to win online customers?

We have been pioneers of eCommerce in India since we started operations in 2005. We believe in an informative approach where we educate consumers on the multiple benefits of shopping online and on eBay India. We have been propagating the advantages of shopping online through proactive engagement to provoke eCommerce trial among consumers and have already witnessed a massive evolution in the way consumers shop. Presently, eBay India has 5 million registered users from 3,311 cities & towns in India.

With our focus on managing customer relationships, social media becomes a critical part of our engagement strategy. We have been able to engage in straightforward dialogues to a large number of people especially women who form a large base on our facebook page. With over 2.1 million fans, the page is the second largest driver of online traffic to eBay India, and consistently ranks as one of the largest and most interactive Facebook communities in the subcontinent. We get over 12 percent of our daily traffic from social media channels, which converts better than any other marketing-driven traffic to our site, second only to organic traffic. Hence, social media becomes a very significant platform for us.

How has online shopping evolved in India in 2012. What changes are expected this year?

Indian consumers, in both metros & non-metros, have opened up to eCommerce & online shopping. According to the eBay India Census 2011, an annual analysis of all transactions on eBay India, there are 3,311 eCommerce hubs in the country out of which 1,267 are Rural Hubs. Metros contribute to 51 percent of transactions while Tier 2&3 cities contribute about 41 percent of transactions & Rural India contribute to 9 percent of transactions on eBay India.

If you look at growth in terms of velocity of transactions, on an average day on eBay India, 12 items are purchased every minute.

Over the last year, we have witnessed a lot of supply side dynamism with brands & individual sellers leveraging the benefits offered by online shopping. Broadly, as the industry is growing, there will be multiple innovations across touch-points that will strengthen the eCommerce ecosystem of India in 2013. The industry is on a strong growth trajectory and will see various companies with innovative offerings and business models making the most out of it this year.

eBay India is a big believer in the exponential potential of Mobile Commerce and we believe that the next 100 million mobile users will probably have their first internet experience through their mobile device.

We conducted a survey with over 2,500 eBay India customers during the festive season and got some interesting facts: 59 percent of Mobile Shoppers stated they would consider shopping on their Mobile phone during the festive season to avoid crowded market areas. 86 percent of Mobile Shoppers prefer to use their Mobile to shop for themselves, while 52 percent of consumers use their Mobile to shop for Gifts for Family & only 29 percent of shoppers use their Mobile to shop for Gifts for Friends.

These trends clearly highlight the increasing adoption of mobile commerce in the country & we are constantly working to better our Mobile Commerce offerings for the New Year.

What are the challenges in the online shopping industry in India?

India has diverse regions; internet and modern retail are still deepening their reach to Non-Metros and Rural India. Some challenges faced in India by the industry are lack of robust ecosystem especially in the area of product delivery. Owing to the vast geography of India, it is sometimes challenging to reach remote areas faster than it usually takes in the present scenario.

Rising Indian consumption demand, increasing broadband penetration, lower device costs, increased awareness and confidence in online shopping continue to be the key drivers of the online retail industry.

To overcome these challenges eBay India has constantly evangelized eCommerce to Indian consumers. We have introduced pioneering services – PaisaPay, eBay Guarantee and PowerShip.

Sangeeta Sudhakaran
[email protected]