Vikas Ahuja, CMO, Myntra.com (L) and Sudhir Nair, senior vice president and head of digital, Grey
Can online shopping festivals attract new buyers to the medium? Do these days see an actual spike in sales?
Vikas Ahuja (VA): Yes it does. We acquired a higher number of customers each day in the four days of the GOSF (Great Online Shopping Festival) than we would on a normal day. Most players have reported an increase in traffic and revenues. At Myntra, we definitely saw an increase for both these metrics. Without quoting precise numbers, the order of magnitude is between 3x and 5x for Myntra.
Sudhir Nair (SN): It surely will attract new buyers. We always like deals, doesn’t matter where it comes from. If the festival gets adequate mileage, it surely will attract newer buyers. Not just in terms of the festivals but also to different brands. An average consumer with means to buy but with limited avenues - maybe due lack of options - will surely lap it up. Even consumers used to the traditional way of shopping will find it hard to resist.
Do you think these new entrants will stick on to the portal?
SN: I am not sure if they will stick on to it; unless the experience is that good. A lot will depend on how their experience turns out. If for whatever reason it ends up being a pain, there are chances the portal might lose consumers for good. It is like any other shopping experience. Just because it’s online, it doesn’t change the basic consumer behaviour.
What affect do you think it make on the brands participating? Are they seen as less premium?
VA: No, it doesn’t reduce the equity of a brand in anyway. This is because across categories and brands there are multiple levers that you press depending on the context and need of the brand. Promotion, sales, discounting and giveaways are part of those levers. Majority of the brands we are selling tend to use a lot of those levers. They are taking these calls, because what we do by way of discounting or offers is within the guidelines of the brands. So it is a very strong opportunity for everyone in the ecosystem to acquire new customers or increase engagement and even sales. For customers and shoppers, it’s a great opportunity to buy because they’re getting great deals. So, it’s an engineered short term win-win for everybody.
SN: Well I feel it will only be an upside for the brands. It’s not as if consumers are alien to shopping festivals and deals. Going by that logic even an offline model should be equally detrimental to brands. It’s a completely flawed way of thinking; if at all. Premium is defined by the badge value. Brands being part of an online festival doesn’t make them less premium. Consumers go by what is in vogue; if comes with a deal then all the more better.
Do you think during the period of the online sales, people stay away from regular retailers?
VA: I think if you look at the larger picture, e-tailing is only making up 0.75 per cent of total retail. So, I don’t think it is having any significant impact on the larger retail environment as of now. But, yes, clearly when there are some strong offers in place, along with strong reasons for shoppers to come online and buy, there may be taking that opportunity. The reasons for that are pretty strong and clear because the online domain offers additional benefits like convenience and comfort. If you look at tier 2 and 3 cities, the draw for them is access to brands, which aren’t available in physical retail.
SN: I don’t think that will happen; unless it’s exclusively online. Even if that happens it isn’t something to worry about. The online world will see a similar dip if the offline world has sales going on.
Does heavy discounting put fear in the mind of consumers in terms of counterfeit products?
VA: I think there is certainly a potential perception that can come up. But, I think consumers need to realise that they have to go to the right shopping locations online or offline. Whatever the industry is, there is always a risk of counterfeit products. But, if you go to the right shop in the offline environment or the right website or brand in the online environment, then you can be sure.
SN: It will depend on the reputation of the online retailer. In addition, when you have an online festival promoted on a large scale, unlikely counterfeit product will find its way. The fear in fact might be that what is on sale is dated goods which has no buyers. That should be avoided.