- While online businesses in India is showing lot of potential and attracting large funds, however there is not a single eCommerce company in India that is in profit. Breaking the jinx of unprofitably in eCommerce space, Ferns & Petals showed that concept of profitability can be tasted in online business too. In an exclusive interaction with iamwire, Pawan Gadia, CEO – Ferns & Petals reiterated on issues like higher pricing and using of analytic by FnP. Here are the excerpts of the interview.
What is your opinion about online retail in India? Is online retail in India entering an inflection point?
Yes, definitely it has already passed the inflection. With increase in the number of credit card holders, increase penetration of broadband services, the today’s youngsters want to express themselves unlike 20 years back and disposable income available with them everyday has contributed greatly to same. FNP has been growing at the rate of 60% year on year in last couple of years and this has been primarily due to adding various non competitive customers segment within the e-com division of the company, for eg association with Jet Airways, Tata Sky, Jetviva, i-mint, American Express and many more helped us to create brand association and add more targeted customers. More often than not, it’s being argued that online shopping is convenient but yet an isolated activity. This format of easy-to-order-easy-to-deliver has been catching up with the tech-savvy buyers but it has always been looked upon as option out of necessity and not pleasure. In order to break this monotony, the concept of e- socializing was introduced to the online buying experience. Apart from a few established online stores, most of new entrants and the upcoming e-retail ventures are banking heavily on the rising popularity of social networking within the online shopping domain. There are a number of major international e-stores who initiated the coupling of online shopping with social networking. Despite of the small size and its seasonal nature (Diwali, New Year, Holi, Rakhi etc ) in Indian online retail ,we cannot discount it as a niche business. The online retail has seen a 30% increase year on year from the last few years. With India poised to have third largest net users by 2013, the growing economy and worsening traffic conditions; we certainly would have more online purchasers in India. Hence all the largest business houses in India have either entered or are planning to enter the online retail space.
What kind of growth you have experienced so far through online retailing? Based on your experience what you would suggest for retailers who are aspiring to come online.
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FNP started with a turnover of 80lacs in 2002 through online division and now in march end 2011 FNP did a turnover of 20 crores plus. Though we are happy with the growth so far but at the same time, we are very impatient and wish to hit growth @ of 100-150% year on wards as the entire online industry as the e-com industry has hit an inflection point where in this kind of growth is very much achievable and can be surpassed. Retailers should consider the following things while aspiring to come online:
• Not just showcase the catalogue for the products but have e-com enable so your consumers start buying online
• Voice support (call centre) which helps the customers for all kind of queries customization placing of order and so on
• Choose flexible technology that allows one to change as frequently as it desires and makes it more user friendly
• Keep innovating product portfolio so consumer sees something new every time
What you foresee the key drivers for FNP in years to come?
Brand assurance that if you place an order on fnp.com it will be delivered with the best of flowers in terms of quality and timelines, and with the utmost courtesy so that recipient is thrilled with receiving of the gifts. The ease of ordering on website, availability wide range of gifts such as teddy bear, cake and wide variety of flowers available, the various delivery option like same day or midnight, national or international, one stop window for gifting, ease of ordering to 150 countries from a single platform and after sale support available through call center are the reasons which attracts consumers to our e-com site. Regular innovations in products portfolio, continuation of brand promise for wow factor of product delivery. Better usage interface, more payment options, 24×7 voice support, adding more product portfolio are a few key drivers where advertising & marketing of brand and its focus to create an image that if you think of flowers, it’s just FNP.
We have observed that FNP has higher prices in contrast of other retailers visibly in same product categories offered by you. What is the strategy behind such pricing strategy?
FNP promises best quality of flower along with defined delivery service level is one of the primary reasons why we are differentiated in price. However, the same is applicable in products which are less than Rs. 1000. Where in with every purchase of Rs. 1000 and above has more or less similar price points. Also, the support of call center and cost incurred inputs like manpower training and retention adds on to delivering the best of services to our customers.
Share your experience about online flower and gift industry in India?
Online flowers and gifting is a medium of expressing ones emotions for any occasions. So whether it is a moment of joy, sadness or appreciation; there is no better way to convey the same other than flowers. In today’s world, everyone is self efficient and almost has all material in terms of gifts like what one could gift to a CEO in an MNC and best way is definitely flowers. Today’s generation has a far more disposable income means like internet/ credit cards to indulge into doing the same and is widely traveled and exposed and does not inhabit themselves in expressing their desires. FNP has been able to benchmark the product and services in this industry for eg. a delivery confirmation which used to follow 3 days post of a delivery is today sent in live time through an sms and email beside which a customer can also call up the call center ad find out the status of the order and express their feedback. Thus the industry has quite evolved and is today sitting at inflection point where in growth can be 2x or 3x in a year.
We have come to know FNP is using analytic. What kind of advantages it would provide and how it would be implemented?
Yes, we are using lot of analytic and MIS reporting in terms of our day to day working. It aid enabling the facts like from where our customers are coming, which pages they are landing from in terms of location and websites and so on. It eventually facilitates us in product presentation and improves technology to give us lot of insight on how to increase sales & services. Further to this, it also increases our knowledge in gauging the customer behavior. We are partnering with a lot of agencies who can help us handling this smoothly.