‘2013 will be the tipping point for e-Commerce’: Yebhi’s Nikhil Rungta

In an exclusive conversation, Rungta talks about the Indian e-commerce space, his moving on from Google, and the new campaign from Yebhi.com

‘2013 will be the tipping point for e-Commerce’: Yebhi’s Nikhil Rungta

Google India’s former country marketing head Nikhil Rungta has moved on to join Yebhi.com as chief business officer.

In his new role, Rungta will be responsible for the strategy, planning and execution of the company's sales, marketing and product development. A new marketing campaign has also been announced by the e-commerce brand.

What prompted your move from a company like Google India to an e-commerce portal?

I have been following e-commerce as a category, and I had a stint with Yatra.com too before Google India. There has always been a certain fondness for the category. During one of the conversations with their founders and promoters, I realised that Yebhi has a strong foundation and fundamentals, both in terms of the catalogue and the category that they operate it. The one thing critical for e-commerce success is to drive traffic, which is an area that Yebhi had an opportunity to step up. Moreover, I strongly feel that the year 2013 will be the tipping point for e-commerce. And, given my interest in the e-commerce arena and with the space coming of age, I just felt that it’s a great opportunity that I wanted to explore.

Apart from the scale, what are the other major challenges that you will be facing in this new role?

Both these are completely different setups. For someone who is doing it for the first time – coming from a larger setup to a smaller one – may be it would be more of an adjustment. For someone like me, who has already worked in a startup earlier in my career with Yatra, I understand the challenges faced by them. I would be looking at it from a positive point of view. There is a lot of energy and passion to build the brand as well as the category. That is the opportunity I am looking at.

E-commerce has seen quite a few ups and downs over the last couple of years. Is the market stabilising for players like Yebhi?

Everything is cyclic. In 2010, when the e-commerce industry started, everyone was sceptical – including suppliers and venture capitalists. But then, in 2011, everybody came on board and there was huge euphoria around e-commerce and lot of money was pumped into it. Again, 2012 was a shakeout kind of year. While some of them folded up, and some of them pivoted on different business models, what has happened is that there are only four or five top players and Yebhi is one of them. India is a unique country where usually in every category there are four or five top players, whereas in other countries it’s just one or two. That’s why 2013 is the coming of age year for e-commerce in India.

What was the thought behind the new campaign from Yebhi?

The campaign is strongly rooted in our consumer insight about e-commerce. What came out very clearly as a barrier today is the fact that people feel the lack of touch and feel. Most of the issues come in the category of footwear and clothes. We as a company came up with this unique concept of ‘Try-n-Buy’. To me, this is as game changing as Cash-on-Delivery was some time ago. My firm belief - from around seven years of experience of being connected with the e-commerce space - is that usually those things succeed which in some way replicate the offline behaviour of the user, but by adding a layer of value and convenience to it.

Campaign India

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