Salt ‘n’ Pepper, an Italian designed multi-product brand entered India in 2012, which was their first attempt at e-commerce as a brand. Iamwire interacted with Sajjad Haider to learn more from his experiences and ideas. Sajjad, in his interview has talked about the opportunities that Indian market provides to a single brand etailer like Salt ’n’ Pepper. In addition to the current market position and operations of Salt ’n’ Pepper, he gave his insights on what opportunities and threats does Indian market provide to an ecommerce player.
Tell us about your journey with Salt ’n’ Pepper in India.
Salt ‘n’ Pepper is an Italian styled Footwear & Accessories brand, which has
presence in more than fifteen countries worldwide including Europe.What I loved the most about Salt ‘n’ Pepper was its synergy, high fashion quotient and its designs. I feel that Indians, especially women follow international footwear fashion closely and more and more of them, especially from second and third tier cities, want to lay their hands on such products. There is a lot of potential in this space, which is when the idea to launch Salt ‘n’ Pepper online in India came to our mind. To be honest the response we’ve received is more than decent and we are only looking at growing from here on.
What are the business opportunities for an international brand in the Indian ecommerce market?
I think ecommerce in India is definitely booming and it is the right time for any international brand to enter the market. I think those brands who do not want to open their own websites, can also tie up with the big multi branded websites to test the waters first and to get an idea of how their product is being accepted in the Indian market. I think initially one of the most important factors for any international brand is to get visibility in the Indian e-commerce market.
What are the Threats and Opportunities for a single brand online retailer like Salt ‘n’ Pepper?
The main threat I would say is you’re competing with all the ecommerce companies whether big or small who’s selling a similar product to gain visibility. So obviously, your marketing costs and customer acquisition, satisfaction etc. also increase proportionately when compared to them. Also another threat is since you’re a single brand retailer, the variety on our website is limited when compared to other multi branded websites, so we need to maintain a very fine balance to keep the customer happy. The opportunity I would say is that it is one of the finest avenues to launch and gain visibility for your product and can from there – look at various routes of expansion.
Do you think that ‘logistics activities’ is a challenge in India for ecommerce players?
I think logistics is getting organized and streamlined much better than how it was ten years back and especially with more and more logistics companies tuning themselves up for the ecommerce business and support. The logistics cost I would say is definitely a concerning factor specially for low cost products. Another concern is the double digit returns figure, which can be reduced to a certain extent by providing an exact product description, photos etc. to keep it as close to original, but this is one area where as an industry, it needs to improve.
Apart from having an online presence, are you planning to open any offline store as well in India?
Yes we are already working on the plan to open offline stores as well. We have gotten a lot of franchise enquiries too. Right now we are working on the viability and the best model to take this forward.
Tell us about your marketing strategies that you use in order to acquire customers.
Right now it is combination of all the online marketing techniques, which include social media, SEO, SEM and email marketing. We also have plans of targeting offline mediums like magazines, newspapers, TVC’s etc.
What are the pros and cons of starting with E-commerce vs offline in the Indian market?
The advantage in the e-commerce medium is that you get a feel of how the product is going to be accepted and the changes you can do to it before launching it in a big way. The biggest con we’ve felt for the higher priced products, is that the customer needs to get a feel of it by seeing and holding the product live and there needs to be someone in person explaining the class of the product, so that the customer knows what he’s paying for, which mostly in case of online business gets missed.
What is the penetration of Salt’n’Pepper in India?
We have orders from all states coming in, the highest coming from New Delhi and Karnataka, so I would say it is definitely pan India.
How Indian market, in comparison to UK & other European markets, is doing for Internet Retail growth?
Indian ecommerce industry currently is an aggressive growth stage when compared to UK and other European countries, which seem to have saturated and passed the aggressive growth stage. The ecommerce awareness and users in India is increasing day by day, whereas the same growth rate is not there in other developed countries.