Ankur Warikoo, CEO of daily deals portal Groupon India has recently been promoted as head of Groupon APAC Emerging Markets (APAC-EM). He is now entrusted with additional responsibilities dealing with growth in the key emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region including India, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
In an exclusive interaction with India Digital Review, Ankur talks about his new priorities, growth drivers of the company and new initiatives being implemented in India.
What are your immediate priorities as Head of Groupon’s APAC Emerging Markets?
The immediate priority would be to go and visit all the four countries and spend time with them. These countries, that have been kept under a different region called ‘Emerging Markets’, have been identified as the next region of growth for Groupon. They hold great potential in terms of sheer size there is about 245 million internet users currently in these four countries and they are expected to go up to 400 million by 2015. Ecommerce, as a concept, is new in these regions. Groupon is under penetrated in some of these countries and has dominant market share in some of them. The idea is to make sure that we are doing everything possible to ensure that growth in these countries is phenomenal.
What will be the growth drivers in emerging markets?
There is going to be a lot more focus on penetrating the market from market share perspective, increasing the brand visibility and working with the best merchants. In these markets, where Groupon is not the top of the mind recall brand the execution often becomes harder. We plan to work on this aspect as well.
How is Groupon’s APAC business doing? What percentage does it adds to the company’s global business?
We do not disclose the numbers but yes it is not one of the biggest contributors. We are working on it.
Tell us more about any new initiatives that Groupon is planning in India.
We are experimenting with new types of deals. So, the fundamental of Groupon remains food and beverage, wellness, travel and products but we are looking at introducing new categories. We, definitely, do not foresee them becoming business verticals but they provide a good flavour to customers. For instance, we are exploring FMCG industry in a big way specifically their sampling exercises. These companies spend awful lot of money on sampling but it might not have that level of scale and reach. So, if a company sets up a canopy in a mall promoting a product it can reach a very limited number of customers. But, if the same company runs a deal on Groupon where free sample can be delivered to customers’ doorsteps then it will have a high level of impact and reach in a short time period.
Second, we are also trying to work something in the ‘Real Estate’ space which is latest in category and is a massive space in India. So, for example we have asked users to pay a small token of money to buy a real estate deal as expression of interest and if the user ends up buying the property, he/she gets a certain amount of discount otherwise the money paid upfront is refunded. For customers it is an absolute no risk deals while for real estate companies it is a means of generating qualified leads.
Third is we tried running deals on automobiles, like real estate leads, generating qualified test drive leads is a challenge for this industry. We ran a deal for Tata Nano where users had to just fill in a test drive form via Groupon platform and pay no amount of money. As a part of the deal, it was announced that amongst the test drivers four customers will get highest version of Tata Nano. This deal generated 10, 500 test drives in one day which the brand has not even got through a TV commercial.
In the travel section, we are going after the ‘Getaways’ section which is destinations within six hours of any big city. We are completely mapping it out and our target would be working professionals who are looking to take a break for 2-3 days without prior planning.
We are looking at strategic partnerships with people where we can add value to a particular segment. The recent one is with multi retail outlet, Croma. So, far Groupon India was not focusing on electronics as a segment because it has very small margins, is extremely competitive and price sensitive. But, we felt it is a massive market we must have a presence here so we partnered with India’s largest offline retail outlet for electronics, Croma who understand the space very well. It’s been a less than a month since we have launched the segment and it is garnering impressive traction.
Any new initiatives coming on the mobile medium?
We have recently launched iOS app and three per cent of our business is coming through this app. Considering the fact that iOS is not the dominant platform in India this number is encouraging. 18 per cent of our website traffic is coming through mobile devices and about 9 per cent of our transactions are coming through mobile. To further tap this market, we will be launching our Android app in about one month.
We have already launched mobile enabled website on June 18, 2013. Mobile is a big focus for Groupon as it connects the impulse buying and the local flavor. If we go by statistics, in US almost 30 per cent of our business is coming from mobile. In Indonesia, 25 per cent of the business is coming from the hand held device so I do not think of any reason why that success cannot be replicated in India.
What would be your business targets for 2013?
Growth is a fundamental factor in Groupon. Being a young and massive country, we are growing very well.