Kunal Bahl, CEO, Snapdeal started his entrepreneurial voyage at age of 25 with seed fund of INR 4,000,000. Although he had to struggle at every turn of business in initial year but later it grabbed the eyeballs of consumers with its whopping discount prices coupons on diverse deal categories. In an interaction with iamwire, Bahl spoke on various aspects raging from strategy and planning to launch of new categories (i.e, product and travel), offline advertising, consumers complains etc. Read full interaction below
1. What are your views about online retail growth in India?
Given the growth of internet penetration and the number of credit card holders, the entire e-commerce industry will definitely continue to see explosive growth in the future as well. There are app. 90 mn internet users in India out of which around 20 mn would be Active Internet users. A substantial number out of these users would be shopping online for various products and services. There is also a lot of willingness now, from both the customers and the retailers to use online platform as a significant channel for buying & selling goods and services. This is something which will definitely spur the growth of online retail in India.
2. With a lot of retailers are coming online. Do you foresee the competition with Snapdeal?
We are not competing with the retailers, but are in a “symbiotic” relationship with them. Our goal is to increase the market. Snapdeal is used as a channel to not only acquire new customers but also to liquidate perishable distress inventory. We are helping them recover costs on these with attractive offers. Snapdeal also acts as a risk-free alternate marketing channel for all of these retailers.
3. Do you have any plans to venture in to other retail formats like market place and non-discounted retail store?
We constantly innovate with our product offerings, as per the demands of the customer. There are two new categories which we have introduced – products and travel. The product category includes very attractive deals, typically 50% off, on products such as mobile phones, electronic gadgets, branded fashion products, sunglasses, wallets, among others. In the case of travel, Snapdeal features the best leisure and business travel destinations across India at national best prices. We want our consumers to consider Snapdeal as a one-stop-shop platform for best-in-market deals on anything to do with local merchants, branded retailers, products and travel. As of now, we are focused on expanding the options within these categories. But if there is demand from the customers for other formats within the online space, we will definitely evaluate it.
4. Recently we have seen Snapdeal advertising on offline mediums like television. What is the Strategy behind it and will you suggest it to other retailers?
We were the first non-travel ecommerce company in India to do TV advertising. Many of our well wishers told us not to do TV, but we planned the media very effectively. We had a partnership with MTV Roadies where SnapDeal was featured in one of the episodes. The day that episode was aired, we got two million visitors on the site and 150,000 new subscribers. Right now we are adding 1.5 million subscribers per month and by the end of the year, we will be having 1.5 crore subscribers. It is not that branding doesn’t work on internet. Performance advertising does work well and this also contributes to your brand being built. So on internet, branding is a by-product of online ads. However, Indian consumers have this peculiar way of thinking that companies which do above the line (ATL) advertisements are “genuine”. That might not remain the same five years from now, but presently this is the case. Our TV ads fetched us good numbers and this is because when awareness meets availability, consumers act.
5. We have come across some customer’s experience — they are facing difficulty from sellers at your site. What actions you are taking to achieve their (customers) satisfaction?
We ensure that each and every customer has a seamless experience after buying goods and services from our website. We also request feedback from our customers, and we strive to never leave a customer dissatisfied with our services. We have a no questions asked refund policy in case any of the customers is unhappy for whatever reason. We have QA & Audit teams in place across cities, and their primary job is to ensure that the customer experience is superior. They also train the merchant staff, so that our customers do not face any hassles while redeeming the deal at the merchant locations. SnapDeal rigorously pre-screens every merchant and even trains them weekly on things like customer feedback and best practices in service.
6. What is the most challenging aspect in running online deal site?
The most challenging aspect of running an online deal site, is to be able to build an element of trust with the end customer. The customer is pre-booking and buying goods and services, and there is an expectation that the rest of the experience would be seamless. Our team is focused on ensuring the same, and it is this customer centricity which will build long term relationship with the customers, and make them loyal.
7. What are your suggestions for new start ups in online retail?
Building the best consumer experience is what matters the most, even if the idea isn’t the most innovative. It’s the execution that matters.