“We are India’s largest horizontal classifieds company with well over 2 crore monthly users across 65 cities” – Pranay Chulet, CEO, Quikr.com

Online classified market has been experiencing significant growth from past few years and slated to grow faster over coming years primarily due to increasing internet penetration, simplicity in usage and being a better suited platform for a larger set of consumers across the country. In the early years of online classifieds, verticals such as jobs and matrimonials helped the transition of consumers from newspapers to online. However, now consumers are moving to horizontal classified platforms that address their multiple needs much faster at a single place. In an attempt to know more about the status of online classified market, iamwire interacted with Pranay Chulet, CEO, Quikr.com. During the course of the interaction Chulet talked about Quikr’s growth, performance and expansion plans. Below are the excerpts of the interaction.

What are your thoughts on the online classified market in India?

Online classifieds has been growing very fast in India and will continue to do so in the coming years. This is primarily due to the simplicity in usage and it being a better suited platform for a larger set of consumers across the country. India has a large population and a growing affluent middle class whose purchasing power is also increasing. With rising incomes and global exposure come rising aspirations which have led to consumer purchase cycles getting shorter. The Indian consumer today is spending more and changing products and services more frequently as compared to before. This is bringing a huge supply of used goods into the market and a classifieds platform like Quikr is a great channel for the original user to sell them, so there is a great trade pattern emerging in used goods. The Indian consumer also likes to browse around, see a variety of products, negotiate on price, see value in the product before the final transaction. This again offers a huge opportunity for a horizontal classifieds platform like Quikr that helps the consumer in all these things. A variety of such factors will lead to continued growth in digital classifieds which really speaking is a simple, mass market form of ecommerce.

How was 2011 for quikr.com in terms of traffic and overall growth?

We have had a great few years since our launch in 2008 across all metrics and 2011 was exceptionally good for us. We continue to grow very fast, are amongst the top 25 websites in India and continue to enhance our leadership position in the classifieds space. It is the simplicity of the experience we offer that has enabled us to become India’s largest horizontal classifieds company with well over 2 crore monthly users across 65 Indian cities. Those are not small numbers.

Could you highlight some new trends which Quikr has come across over the past one year including split of traffic between tier 1, 2 and 3 cities.

Last year we started our journey to transition into a digital company that offers consumers the Quikr experience on the web as well as on the mobile. We built Quikr mobile through which consumers can now sell, buy, rent or find products and services through their mobile any time from any place.We are leveraging mobile to extend our reach and broaden our user base by bringing the benefits of the Quikr platform to consumers with limited access to internet on desktops in cities as well as smaller towns. Today while a large share of our usage and transactions is happening in metros, we are seeing the fastest growth in smaller cities. And we expect a large share of growth to come from these smaller cities where the convenience of a platform like Quikr can make life more productive and better.Another very important trend we are witnessing is the rapid growth and adoption of the Quikr platform by lakhs of small businesses across the country. But this comes as no surprise given our huge volume of buyers – businesses will continue to come to where most buyers are present.

Which classified categories have been the most searched at Quikr over the past year?

Search on our platform reflects broader consumer trends. Being a horizontal classifieds platform, we get valuable insights into consumer buying across a wide variety of categories. Our most searched categories include jobs, cars, real estate, mobiles, laptops, services like drivers & maids and others.

Initially online classified market had witnessed rise of vertical category sites but now it is moving towards horizontal – how do you see this shift?

Verticals classifieds such as jobs and matrimonials started the transition of consumers from newspapers to online initially. Consumers were looking for convenience and ease of use and in general digital media are better for the same. But verticals by definition address just one need and are more specialized in the way their platform is built. Compared to a vertical, a horizontal classifieds platform like Quikr offers a simpler user experience and the convenience of addressing multiple needs much faster at one place. So moving to a horizontal classifieds platform makes sense for many consumers who want a quikr and simpler transactional experience at one place they are already familiar and have trust in. There is a place under the sun for both types of platforms – in verticals, there will be multiple players whereas the horizontal space is likely to be dominated by the market leader.

Tell us about Quikr’s expansion plan and revenue projection for 2012?

We will continue to grow the network of local Quikr marketplaces across the country. We will be increasing our presence by launching in new cities and categories to expand our reach and provide the Quikr experience to more Indian consumers. Monetization is always important and we are building out various revenue streams to meet that objective as well.

Your take on participation of ecommerce &etail in online classified market and in what ways it is fruitful to them?

Online Classifieds is a big part of ecommerce in India because classifieds is the simplest digital format for people to transact. There are many ways retail brands and players are getting more and more buyers from online classifieds and will continue to do so. Brands and players like these heavily use platforms like Quikr to display and sell their products and services so people sometimes don’t realize but a mass market ecommerce revolution is happening in these formats. We are happy to be a leader in this revolution with our 2 crore+ user base.

How do you see the contrast of growth in past 5 years and next 5 years?

Growth is an outcome of execution as well as the ecosystem one operates in. We have been growing very fast since our launch in 2008 and continue to do so. Important factors like democratization of digital media and a localized business model will enable us to grow even faster in the next 5 years. With a large economy that continues to grow better than most others, increasing share of middle class with more disposable incomes, changing lifestyles and over 100 million internet users in the country and growing, eCommerce is entering a high growth phase and is at an inflection point in India. And we stand well poised to participate in as well as precipitate this growth.

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