The bulk of the transaction requests received by ShopClues are on mobile. The traffic coming on Shopclues.com through mobile device has shot up from 2% in April to 70% in September 2015. The company is witnessing a new prime time for commerce. It’s like, ‘commute to commerce’ because most of the transactions on mobile happen from 6pm to 12am. Manish Chandra, Senior Director- Products, ShopClues speaking to Abhishek Raval discusses, apart from mobile, ways on how e-commerce players can turn profitable using technology
At one of the Industry forums, when asked about the changes observed in the Indian retail scene in the recent past, Radhika Ghai Aggarwal, Co-Founder, Shopclues said that while there are various channels of retail consumption available to the Indian consumer, mobile is overtaking the conventional channels with a tremendous amount of speed. Please substantiate?
The traffic coming on Shopclues.com through mobile device has shot up from 2% in April to 70% in September 2015. We are seeing a new prime time for commerce. It’s like, ‘commute to commerce’ because most of the transactions on mobile happen from 6pm to 12am.
There are 2,50,000 merchants on the site. We have more than 7 million app downloads already.
Recently we created a functionality on our app called ‘Neighbourhood Market’. It shows the number of merchants servicing a product in his vicinity. This tremendously increases the customer confidence to transact with us. There are two advantages. The quick product delivery and better service. Besides these obvious advantages, it also serves another purpose. The size of the pie of the India e-commerce market will continue to shoot upwards. These new shoppers will also find this option more convenient.
This also results in creating efficiencies. The seller can dispatch the item and collect the money himself. Moreover we have a chat platform on the mobile. The sellers and customers can chat over the android app about the products. It’s an interface, very similar to WhatsApp. Where customers even bargain! A lot of interesting conversations happen, which gives good customer insights. They can bargain, ask about products, enquire on their orders etc. This is an ecosystem established by us to enable customers buy from the site using their mobile device.
How have you empowered the merchants to use ShopClues.com?
The merchants can promote their stores to the buyers near them by using a services platform laid out by ShopClues. We have recently launched the ‘SMS package’ for the merchants. They can send SMSs to their customers, just as they send fliers tucked inside the newspapers. The sellers can also set-up their own shops using our platform. We facilitate them to host a website of their own, powered by ShopClues. The price discovery, order checkouts, the order fulfillment will happen from ShopClues as it happens, but the merchant can create his own identity. Apart from the domain and renewal fees, there are no charges.
Thus Mobile is a driver of innovation. ShopClues is in the process of building an e-commerce operating system on the cloud to power our Omni channel strategy, for e.g. It will act as an infrastructure platform for Shopclues.com. Any business entity can integrate with ShopClues and use the platform to sell their products and in turn ShopClues can use their partner’s platform to sell its own products. ShopClues has exposed the platform using APIs, which is openly accessible. In this way, the cloud technology can make the e-commerce experience possible for merchants too.
How ShopClues handles transaction volume spurt during the festive season
To live up to the transaction fulfillment expectation during the festive season demands a thorough planning. Right from the Interface to the channel – desktop or the mobile has to be upgraded to show the best deals to the customers.
The value delivered by the ‘Neighbourhood Market’ technique takes a different level altogether during the festive season, in reaching out to the customer with tremendous pace by cutting down the physical movement of the products to the extent possible. We plan to do it by teaming up with merchants across the country, esp. Metro cities. The customers can thus directly receive the products from the merchants nearest to their residential address. Thus the customer experience is retained. It also helps us in crunching the shipping time and shipping cost. This initiative can be of immense help in cases of delivering white goods like AC, refrigerator etc. The shipping costs for delivering these goods is very high.
We are able to gauge with good amount of surety about the region of the customer. The Mobile phone has features to pinpoint the geography. Approximately 60-65% of the traffic comes through mobile. The IP address of the customer is also an indicator. We also run algorithms on what products should be shown on the basis of historical trends.
What learnings would you like to share from the Big sale days?
There are failures. The nature of operations do change from season to season. The entire e-commerce industry in 2014 faced issues with the transportation. The orders were punched in at a lightening speed but the fulfillment was just not able to catch up.
An alternate way to serve the orders is in the works to overcome the issue faced in 2014. There are also learnings around how differently can we show the product assortment that we show to the customers. Our plans to apply the learnings are at various stages of implementation. However, to test the technology for its feasibility is important before they go live. We are testing the operational and technology capabilities learned from the previous Big Sales campaigns during a ‘Thank You Sales campaign’ to celebrate One crore customers at ShopClues.
How can technology play a role to convert e-commerce players from mere transaction guzzlers to being profitable?
Nothing other than IT can make us profitable. We are in the retail business but a technology company. There’s nothing that we do that doesn’t have a technology component to it. Profitability can be achieved in various ways.
There can be an e-commerce operating system on the cloud. ShopClues is running such a platform, which is an offering to the merchants in the country. So, it’s not only ShopClues who is getting orders. We also receive orders from many other channels too because they are using the platform and creating their own interface to sell their respective products. Thus IT has enabled to take my platform to an altogether different level. The platform can be used by sellers to send SMSes to their customers about new offers and can even chat and bargain using the chat functionality available on the platform. The fee structure can be arrived at based on certain conditions. Currently it’s free but there is a potential of levying a charge after it gains reasonable traction. This can be one way to improve the top line.
The bottom line can be achieved by creating systemic efficiencies. Customer experience can be a decisive factor because it results in better and repeatable conversions. IT can be used to display relevant products to the customers on the basis of data gathered about the customer’s previous site visits and other data. The journey a typical customer goes through on the portal to make the transaction easier to close.
ShopClues: Future plans
Mobile will be the driving force. We are investing heavily on a few technologies. HyperLocal is one of them i.e location based technologies. Image based competencies is also something that we are working on.
We have already crossed 2.5 lac sellers. This week we are celebrating 1 Cr buyers. There are also players, who have kiosks in village and towns in Tier 3 cities, who have hosted their websites on our cloud. They have small services like mobile recharge, groceries etc. We also have players who showcase our products, and take orders on our behalf. The website is created by the local business but the data is all powered by ShopClues.
We are also working with a few start-ups and HyperLocal businesses, where they are using our platform to showcase the products using our platform. We are also working with Big brick and mortar retail chains to bring them online on our platform. The customer can check the orders on ShopClues and the nearest store of the respective retail chain will deliver the order.