The first Campaign India Live Issue Forum was held on 8 June in Mumbai. Hosted by Campaign India in association with MSLGroup India, the discussion focussed on 'E-commerce Branding'.
Kashyap Vadapalli, chief marketing officer, eBay India explained how eBay has gone about positioning itself globally, and in India. He said, "Four years ago we took a stand to build our new global identity, 'Buy it now, buy it new'. We moved on from our bidding format to new products being sold on the website. In India, internet users were aware about eBay but didn't know what it stood for. This made branding extremely important for us and led us to releasing a campaign in India too."
Rahul Khanna, managing partner, Canaan Partners, discussed the importance of e-commerce players retaining their customers, highlighting retention, repeats and value going beyond mere acquisition. On the branding efforts that players have undertaken so far, including through mass media, Khanna said, "It has been more about building the category and less about the brands present in the category so far. Going forward, there will be focus on specialisation and niche plays.Players in the category must also focus on getting people back to the website and should shift their focus from acquistion to retention."
Kartik Iyer, chief executive officer, Happy Creative Services, which handles the creative duties for Flipkart.com, spoke about how the website has played a role in building the category in India. "Flipkart has attempted to get rid of two major worries Indian internet shoppers had with the category: credit card purchases online and warranty issues," said Iyer.
The discussion veered towards e-commerce being a low-margin business, and the spillage involved in television campaigns. Iyer underlined the importance of television advertising for e-commerce brands. He said, "Firstly, it is about category building and there is no better medium to do that in India. Equally, brands have to use television in India because anything that appears on television in India gets the credible tag. That was something e-commerce needed."
Narendra Nag, general manager, 2020 Social, MSLGroup, spoke about the importance of the entire purchasing experience. He said, "The process of buying starts before entering the store. Brands (including e-commerce brands) should focus on selling experiences and not products."
Akshay Mehrotra, chief marketing officer, Policybazaar.com, outlined the inherent advantages of buying insurane online, as against from an agent - for the customer and the e-commerce player. He said, "People buy insurance from any given place. Insurance runs on a distribution model. We needed to tell consumers the role the agent plays in the model. An agent's margins are anything between 40 to 100 percent. E-commerce brings this down."
With the example of Policybazaar, Mehrotra explained the importance of a television campaign for e-commerce websites. A four week television campaign by Policybazaar.com increased sales and traffic by six times, he said.
Kaushal Sarda, chief evangelist, Kuliza, spoke about how brands should engage customers, and the importance of applications. He cited cases of apps being built to create and run exclusive stores for customers internationally, and noted that this and other apps would find traction in Indian e-commerce soon.
Speakers were in agreement that the gamechanger for e-commerce, and for the rest of the digital ecosystem, will be the mobile screen. How this plays out is what we should all watch out for, they noted.
The discussion was moderated by Gokul Krishnamurthy, editor, Campaign India.