Online businesses in India are witnessing unprecedented faith of investors and consumers at the same time. External funded ecommerce companies in India are showing lot of exuberance , however the internal funded company like tradus sees ecommerce as running a marathon where level of energy including funding should be in synchronization in order to clear the finish line of e-marthon. Iamwire team interacted with Rahul Sethi, ecommerce arm of ibibo in his effervescent office brimming with youthful energy. Sethi spoke at length about recent activities and aspiration of tradus. Here are the excerpts of the interview.
As tradus is in to almost all categories be it books, digital gadgets, high end fashion merchandises, FMCG products, home appliances but still aspires to be a top book seller. Why it is so?
We are not biased towards a specific category and want to be a top seller in every category we sell. However, we did start with books as it is most inclusive and adaptable category to be sold online. Supply in terms of books is very much organized and issues like fake vs genuine, touch and feel are not involved. Apart from that it has standard form of coding in the form of ISBN which makes aggregation process easy and simple. Meanwhile, it is also a low ticket transaction, so it gels well with consumers.
At Tradus we are building a platform where we intend to cater to all needs of online shoppers. Our catalogue strategy is to provide the widest range of products to the end customer. At present we have around 200 sellers showcasing more than 2.5 million products, by the end of this year we aim to have 1000 sellers with bouquet of 10 million products on tradus platform. Moreover, tradus is strongly moving to become a controlled marketplace for consumer products and eEnabler to anyone having inventory.
We are not competing with vertical ecommerce companies our intention is to become a platform for such companies to showcase and sell their products via Tradus.
What is the traffic of tradus and what amount of return visitors you experience with repeated customers?
We get around 65,000 unique visitors on daily basis with multiple of thousand transactions daily. About 35 to 40% of our users are repeat users. We at Tradus understand business which is gross positive, built on scalable processes and facilitated via technology. We want to grow at a steady and stable pace irrespective of whatever the euphoria is (loud buzz about ecommerce getting hot and companies are getting billion dollar valuation). We believe that ecommerce in India is not a 100 meter dash – it is a marathon and in this marathon we believe that right now is the time to show perseverance and conservation rather than being flamboyant and outrageous.
What is your take on recent 1 billion dollar valuation of Flipkart? Do you think it’s fair enough?
Today, India is among the fastest growing economies of the world and unlike china, we are an internal consumption story. How does one participate and get benefit out of “India growth story?” E-commerce is one potential channel to tap into the growth “story”. The valuation of the companies in this space are based on this premise and more so because organized retail today in India is weak and has its own challenges to grow. On the basis of above facts one can say that recent valuations are largely fair enough. However, I do not want to comment on any company specific valuations
You are in to online industry from last one decade; tell us about your own experience – sweet, bitter, challenges and important landmarks of your career?
Overall, the experience so far has been great and I consider everyday is a mix of sweet and bitter experience with challenges at every step. In my 12 years old career in online industry I have been associated with Baazee.com, Futurebaazar and launched MobileNXT for web18 and in my current role with Ibibo I successfully launched Tradus.in(Online Shopping) and TradusAds.in(Online Classified). My experience in Baazee at early stage of my career has been instrumental in building a strong foundation for my e-commerce career. Baazee had a very strong leadership team and was like an institution to me. It was a complete cycle of creating a business from scratch, scaling it up and a successful exit. I guess baazee has been the only successful exit for an e-commerce company in India so far and I have been a witness and a participant in the same. I am sure we would be seeing many more successful exits in the ecommerce space in next few years.
What unique value proposition you are offering to consumers?
Our unique value proposition is our huge catalogue range. Right from books to bed sheet, digital gadgets, high end fashion apparel, and FMCG products – we are becoming a platform which offers a complete shopping experience to online shoppers.
One of the unique propositions we have is a special weekly fashion event called ‘Fashion hub’ in which we run a limited period deals on high end fashion brands like Calvin Klein, Gucci, and Armani etc. Fashion-hub is on from every Tuesday to Thursday and has new set of deals every week. In fact, 60 to 65 percent of consumers buying these high end fashion apparels are from tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
As you are set to get internal funding, tell us – what size of funding you are looking at? As you are company funded venture not VCs funded- So do you feel the decision of funding has been dictated by external exuberance?
We have an internal budget that is utilized towards marketing, technology and various initiatives for consumer engagement. However, I cannot disclose the actual amount but certainly we don’t have a fund size as big as some of the recent VC funded internet businesses. And Yes, the decision of our internal funding is dictated by overall exuberance of entire online ecosystem in India.
According to you what should be the approach to win the trust and confidence of consumers of tier 2 and tier 3 cities?
The biggest problem for a shopper from tier 2 and tier 3 cities is that he/she does not has access to the high end brands and wide range compared to a shopper from a Metro. Online shopping bridges this gap and offers a vast range of products to people living out of these cities. The correct approach to reach this huge base is by using the right online marketing mix, communicating “Trust” and do things like offering product on cash on delivery and Free and fast shipping.