Indian online industry is getting hot and humid @ every passing day. Unlike dotcom eruption of late nineties – online industry has been so far capable of retaining the faith of consumers and consequently investors are pouring funds as they foresee the strong rays of returns. In non-travel category electronic gadgets are the largest selling products all across the globe including India. With more than 2800 shipment of orders everyday letsbuy.com has become hotspot to research, compare, review and buy a digital lifestyle product. Recently letsbuy.com added digital healthcare product in its portfolio. letsbuy.com founded by Amanpreet Bajaj and Hitesh Dhingra. In an exclusive interaction with Iamwire, Amanpreet, who is an avid traveler, shared the vision and future of letsbuy.com. Here are the excerpts of the interview.
1. Please tell us about what motivated you to create a successful business model such as Letsbuy.com?
World over, electronic gadgets are the largest selling products online in non-travel category and till two years back there was no successful e-Commerce company focusing specially in this category in India. Most e-Commerce companies at that time were just selling-platforms, relying heavily on their resellers to manage the deliveries, without any control over products and services. When I and Hitesh Dhingra founded Letsbuy.com, we decided to tie up with brands directly and ship everything from our warehouse in order to maintain total control over the entire supply chain. We realized that to be successful in this domain, we will need to invest and pay special attention to our backend operations – be it in terms of convincing brands to tie-up with us directly or using technology and domain expertise for effective supply chain management.
2. LetsBuy.com is focused on the 3 ‘C’s – computers, communication and consumer electronics. Recently Flipkart has expanded itself by foraying in similar category—do you not think this space is getting competitive day by day?
The e-Commerce space is definitely heating up. There are a number of new entrants with new ideas and a number of new categories are being transacted online in India. From baby products to high end electronics – people are now experiencing and using the web with more and more ease and confidence. E-Commerce has been growing at more than 70% Y-o-Y for the last few years and may see an exponential growth in next few years.
We believe that e-Commerce industry will be driven by few start ups, which are focused as well as innovative in their approach. Letsbuy.com aims to be the one-stop-shop for anyone to research, compare, review and buy a digital lifestyle product. Consumer electronics is a business of volumes and relationships which are built over time. We are an entrenched player today and offer superior proposition to our customers due of our relationships with leading brands, who in turn are assured of sales volumes. And every day we are expanding our product portfolio. If anyone thinks of electronic gadgets – he should think of Letsbuy.com.
3. How do you see the recent spurt of investments in last twelve months in online businesses in India? According to you what are the reasons for such faith from investors?
As I said earlier, the e-commerce space is heating up and new players are entering this space. The new investments are a positive sign. Consumers today are buying online and it’s not limited to metros or tier I cities – tier II and III cities are leading the growth given organized retail has still not reached there. Therefore, the consumer confidence in e-commerce industry, which has already grown phenomenally in the West, is in turn giving more confidence to investors. Further, If you look at it from an Investor’s eyes – India is probably the last market left in the world that is growing at such a fast pace and that holds such immense promise. India crossed 100 million users last year despite poor internet penetration and sluggish internet speed and this will only improve in the future.
4. What sort of different value proposition does Letsbuy offer to its customers in contrast to other ecommerce portal?
We work directly with manufacturers or their tier 1 distributors. We also stock and sell all products from our own warehouses, thereby maintaining complete control over the entire supply chain and quality of products and services. Through this we are not just offering an alternate channel for the brands to sell their products; we are ensuring that our customers get the best products at the best price and at the shortest possible time. Customer delight is the biggest driving factor at LetsBuy.com. Further, some of the initiatives launched in the recent past like extended warranty’s for Laptops, LCD TV’s and Cameras show that we provide depth in the vertical. We were the first online retailers in the Country to do so and have seen tremendous response to the same. Consumers shall see something innovative come out of the Letsbuy stable every month.
5. What appeals most to your customers – value for money (VFM) products, brand and quality, or discounted deals? How do you cater to this in your merchandising/procurement strategy?
Our experience says that it’s a mix of all the above points, but most consumers are looking for VFM products from good brands and with good quality. Discounted deals are always attractive but not the norm. In this Category – we feel three things drive the business and that is what customers are looking for and they are range, price and experience. For customers access to a wide range, at competitive prices if backed by a good experience is all that matters. Customer delight is something that wins you customers for life.
6. Please share broadly the numbers that Letsbuy.com is able to manage currently – average number of orders per day and average order value.
Letsbuy has seen great growth since the start of the year – we have grown more than 20x since January 2011 in all areas – be it traffic, number of orders, products shipped etc. We are shipping more than 2800 products on a daily basis. Our current order size is quite healthy as well.
7. How do you manage the touch and feel factor in the consumer durable category, as this is a high involvement product category?
E-commerce industry in India is evolving and so is the Indian consumer. Touch and feel factor is important but often gets outweighed by convenience and product accessibility. More and more people are now searching for products online and specially in our category – search for electronic products is growing by 300 % year on year. Hence at Letsbuy.com – there is a strong focus on the product pages. Most of the product pages at Letsbuy have all detailed specs, user reviews, expert reviews and even video reviews for users to get a sense of the product. Plus, with a trained customer service department, customers are assured that they can get back to the seller anytime they have any queries.
8. Do you have any plan to diversify into new product categories? Is Letsbuy looking to raise funds in near future?
Letsbuy.com recently added electronic healthcare products to its portfolio, offering products ranging electronic thermometers to blood pressure monitors. We are getting great response for these products. Focus is on increasing the product catalogue, strengthen supply chain processes and ensure that customer service delivery is improved with each experience. We are currently doing everything to achieve customer delight. We feel there is a lot we can do by focusing on the 3C’s and we will go deep into the category. However – there will be some surprises and innovative offerings for our customers in the near future.
9. What are the challenges and delight of running an e-commerce venture in India?
The delight is in building something from scratch and something that adds value. We are solving an accessibility issue and opening up a new channel for brands. E-commerce in India is at a very nascent age and as the eco-system evolves, it will be a considerable percentage of overall retail in India. Having said that – There are certain challenges as well, Payment gateways and logistics providers have to understand the peculiarities of this business and evolve at the same pace. The market is growing as we speak and we have to be prepared for this growth in advance and build on the infrastructure accordingly. The idea is to enjoy this journey as we go along building something that would benefit a number of consumers and change the way India shops in the future.