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Bigger brands operating in India are still not open to the idea of selling online

Rahul Sethi heads Tradus.in,
the eCommerce initiative of ibibo. He carries an experience of 11 years and prior
to his current position, Sethi has setup and launched shopping channel on Web18
– A Network18 group company. Before joining Network18, Rahul Sethi was general
manager and head of marketing, FutureBazaar and was instrumental in launching FutureBazaar.com.
He has also worked with Baazee.com team and worked in various roles of category

Rahul Sethi heads Tradus.in,
the eCommerce initiative of ibibo. He carries an experience of 11 years and prior
to his current position, Sethi has setup and launched shopping channel on Web18
– A Network18 group company. Before joining Network18, Rahul Sethi was general
manager and head of marketing, FutureBazaar and was instrumental in launching FutureBazaar.com.
He has also worked with Baazee.com team and worked in various roles of category
management and later in marketing at eBay India. In an exclusive interview with
AlooTechie, Sethi shares his thoughts about Indian ecommerce sector and the way
forward for the company.

How has been the
journey of Tradus.in so far? How many daily transactions does Tradus do
presently?

Tradus.in was launched in September 2010 with a mass media
campaign in NCR region. The journey so far has been exciting as Tradus.in is
growing day by day. We are currently doing multiple of thousand transactions on
daily basis and are targeting to be amongst the top 3 ecommerce websites in the
country by the end of this year.

Ecommerce is a highly
competitive market today. How do you see Tradus facing the competition?

There’s no real competition in this space for Tradus. We
have a distinct position as India’s premium online mall offering deals everyday
on about 2.1 M premium lifestyle products including Books, Electronics and
Apparel and Accessories. While every other established brand is concentrating
on building vertical expertise, Tradus is working on creating an online
shopping destination for the Indian internet consumer.

What have been the
major challenges that you have faced while operating Tradus?

One of the biggest challenges we face today is the
unavailability of efficient logistic partners who could help us with the
deliveries in hinterland. Considering that the highest growth is coming from
smaller towns of India the state of logistics in this country is extremely
poor.

The other challenge is that most of the bigger brands
operating in India are still not open to the idea of selling online as they do
not see much value while comparing this channel with their retail outlets. What
these brands need to realize is that selling online helps them cut inventory
and rental costs, in our sale pitches to these brands we emphasize on the
advantages of online medium and are expecting more brands to join us.

Speaking about
ecommerce, the category is seeing a lot of fundraises taking place by various
players. What are your plans on that?

Tradus is not planning to raise funds at this stage.

Tradus.in plans to
add Fashion (Apparels and Accessories) and Digital (Mobiles, Computer & IT
and Consumer Electronics). What is the objective behind this expansion?

We have always had a strong focus on these two categories.
Fashion on Tradus has the widest variety available compared to any other
website selling fashion. We have also launched one interesting proposition
called “Fashion Hub”, it is a flash sale event live for 3 days (Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday) and features all premium fashion brands.

According to our estimates, Digital and Fashion categories
combined will contribute about 70 per cent of total online sales by 2015.

Tradus is slated to
launch campaign around Diwali. What would be the investment size of the
campaign? What mediums would be used at large for this campaign?

The campaign planned around Diwali will be one of the
biggest media campaigns launched by Tradus in the recent past. Our last two
campaigns were focused around a city wise approach were we decided to contain
our reach first in Delhi and then extend to Mumbai. The idea was fairly simple
– Build strong fulfilment capabilities in top cities and go all out with a 360
degree marketing campaign.

The previous approach helped us reach a substantial base and
positioned Tradus.in as one of the formidable forces in the ecommerce
industry.  With this new campaign we
intend to reach a much wider set of audience and create a strong foothold in
fast growing Tier II and Tier III towns. The budgets allocated for this
campaign cannot be discussed now.

If FDI on retail
opens up and foreign biggies enter India, what would be your strategy then?

The foreign players will bring to India their expertise in
managing processes and inventories which would eventually lead to the overall
growth of the industry. Also, the marketing monies spent by these players will
push even more people experiencing the medium helping the whole of the industry
in return.

Speaking about the
overall ecommerce market in India, right now we are seeing a lot verticalisation
taking place. Do you think verticalisation is the way to go for Indian
ecommerce players?

From the business standpoint, verticalisation is the right
approach while you are a starting up your organization and can’t manage
multiple categories. Every vertical has its own industry structure which
requires a lot of experience before you could know which strings to pull to
have the right impact. Although, I believe that a business eventually has to
diversify into other verticals to keep their acquired customers coming back to
them.

What has been your
observation about the Indian consumer’s online buying habits?

Online retailing in India is growing at a rapid pace,
according to industry estimates the current market size for pure-play internet
retail is about USD 100 million which is expected to grow to USD 1 billion by
2015.  One of the major drivers behind
this growth will be the strengthening of Indian economy leading to a higher
disposable income in the hand of people who will then be more open to shop on
internet. The other important factor will be stricter regulations on online
transactions by the government reducing frauds and resulting in trust building
for the medium.

There are concerns
about credit card security and fraud among Indian consumers. How are you
addressing this?

We follow strict payment gateway guidelines at our end while
a customer is transacting on Tradus.in, which means, we do not store any credit
card information at our end and all such information is directly put by the
user on the secured payment gateway. One of the important things we do to
protect credit card theft is, any high value transaction that is made on our
platform is first verified manually by our team and is only processed post
verification is done.

How do you see the
Indian ecommerce market evolving two years down the line? What are your plans
for Tradus around that?

According to our estimated the pure-play ecommerce market
will see 60 per cent Year on year growth for the next few years and will reach
a USD 1 billion mark by 2015. Most of the growth will come from Tier II and III
towns which will be triggered by increase in access points on mobile and higher
internet penetration.

Fashion, Mobiles and Accessories and Consumer
electronics would be a significant pie in this market. Tradus realizes the
potential of these categories and has already started focussing on these. We
are currently seeing a 100 per cent month on month growth in all these
verticals and have the richest catalogues built for all of them.

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