Indian e-commerce, after the flipkart and groupon clones, have come on the world map in florescent colours to say the least.
I have always found it amazing, how companies can target some 50 Million odd internet users in our country, expect them to shop with them, and without even a decent enough customer servicing, expect them to come back to them to shop. It’s kinda tricky how they manage it, if they manage it, and makes it difficult for me to understand that all this or at least 66.66% is not a sham. I feel much of it is a lousy attempt to create an amazon or groupon like story without much efforts behind it, which however is a different point of discussion, I will write on some other time.
I came across a very well googled research and its interpretation by Jyothirmayee of hiveminds.in. they called it Rocketing Growth. It is an interesting read of the rise, fall, growth and surprises in the Indian web industries and you should read it before you continue reading as this made me think something that makes Internet shopping or Branding of Internet a little non nonsensical to me.
When i read this, i get a feeling, that people are trying deperately to trust a brand on the Internet and have not been able to maintain loyalty to anything so far. Yes flipkart is around and has been looking promising, since the TV campaign last year, but it is falling short.
Alok Rodinhood Kejriwal, once in a round table at Olive Bandra said, that all advertisements are for guilty pleasures of the clients. It is how they kiss their own ass, and I so completely believe in it. I mean, when you are on internet and your FIRST potential customer is on Internet too, why do you want to not tap them completely first, service them well and eventually then seek to educate and empower the audience on TV, Hoardings and other mediums with your bright creative campaigns, who, otherwise wouldn’t have known about you. Alok said, that it is for the MAMA ( maternal uncle ) in some state that I want to impress with my ads, and satisfy my guilty pleasures – PURE VANITY with the ads everywhere ( or something like that, I don’t remember exactly, but more or less the point to be noted) . However, the above mentioned blog states a different story.
Now I chose some of the top visible E-commerce sites on TV. Yebhi.com, Flipkart.com, Jabong.com, ebay.in and homeshop18.com which even has a 24 hours channel to support the site, along with quikr, olx, myntra, bigrock and snapdeal, all of which advertise most of their VC money on Television among other things. And I don’t have access to alexia, comescore et al. to know the figures but I will do for now with Google Trends for websites to explain certain interpretations. I am talking about both their business and their TV campaigns here, to understand what are these bringing to our tables.
These are two different Google Trends ( because they allow comparisons of up to 5 sites at a time) for daily unique visitors (doesn’t mean any or all of them buy their products).
Now lets Discuss the TV campaigns which almost boomed on our TV screens towards the end of 2011. I admit that from the agency perspective, most of these were some of the best TVCs I have come across.
BIGROCK : On their website they claim & I Quote ” Bigrock is India #1 domain registration and web hosting provider.” Their TVC’s are entertaining to say the least with a simple message that ‘ if you have a business, get a website”. < Watch commercials > . Launched in late 2011, The campaign has however had people laughing their guts out, but has not really been able to convince people on getting a DIY ( do it yourself) domain & Hosting service from Bigrock, it is the market of your neighbor’s IT grad who can build a 5 page site for you in a couple of thousands, which bigrock is bravely trying to convert with minimal succes so far as we see in the trends ( or we don’t see #PunIntended )
OLX: We saw OLX’s first TV campaigns somewhere in June 2011, and their latest ‘BECH DE’ campaign from January 2012. These campaigns have immensely helped OLX gain popularity all of a sudden. For a website, that is online since 2006, as an alternative ( to newspapers) classified portal which now is structured to be a buyer meet seller website, it is kind of too late, but is sure helping them finally to gain momentum and has certainly increased hits as we can see.
Quikr: “Helps anything sell quicker -Quikr” The bang on punchline, of a not as old as OLX free classified website, has actually done well with an upwards trend of Unique visitors ( since 2009) as per the above report. A quick and crisp 10 second spot tells us how fast and easy it is to sell on the portal. The campaign is on air since August 2011 ( the portal is online since 2008) and has boosted the upward trend of unique visits to take it as high as ebay.in, when compared. Not bad.
Snapdeal: One of the first E-commerce websites to advertise on Television in India. The Unique Visitor Trend however, is more like.. Hey they have VC money — Visits Going up…aah.. boring deals….Going down…. Hey YAMDUDE campaign is funny …. Going up…..WTF deals…Going down…. I personally feel, essentially a DEAL site, which now looks much like an I don’t Know what to do with VC money, so I have everything on the site website, has not been able to do real good to themselves for the longest time now, it’s TV campaign compared to most of the above mentioned and to be mentioned online brands, is not up to the mark either. Plus, with the kind of deals on the site, it has become repetitive and shows the lack of a good on Ground team to support any campaigning, even with virtually bare minimum competition in the sector from the likes of crazeal or mydala. It will be interesting to see them survive in a longer run, or lets see if they come up with a fresh new TVC to up the visits.
Myntra: First of all, using the surfboard as a prop, is a complete disconnect. I didn’t know if the ad was for Miami or Mumbai. With the TVCs’ they think they tell us how cool they are, but they forget to tell us about any USP. All ads tell something about the brand, the site or a service as USP. Myntra’s campaign to me is to prove that they can write their name using 30 SurfBoards. YAY!!.
Now these have been somewhat seasonal or till i spend all my vc money on tv or guilty pleasure inspired TV campaigns that we saw and some of which we liked and some of which took us to the website.
What follows are the big daddy’s with big pockets, spending all they got on these TV campaigns, to desperately convert the visitors into buyers. Now I somehow felt that they all must be failing to do so, because they have not helped me. The Google Trends however tell a different tale atleast with a “Unique Visitors” point of view.
Flipkart: The real big daddy in the industry, has millions in VC money, has a great valuation, and somehow shows profit in books (I don’t know where that comes from). In fact, personally too, at least for books I have started to prefer flipkart over oxford book stores & Landmarks & crosswords. Their, TVCs are loved by everyone. They rolled out their first TVC in April 2011. Their campaigns have always been entertaining, cute ( what else do you expect with kids? ) and educating. It takes up the onus to prove to the Indian buyer that it is safe, easy, and IN to shop online. A child’s play, in short. The ads now, however have become monotonous and are loosing the initial value addition it brought forward fro flipkart and E-commerce as a whole per sey. Though the graph shows upward movement at an almost stable rate, but there is much to worry now, as we see forth.
Yebhi: Kya aapkey papa ATM hai?, Yes we all are not as lucky as we would desire being. Well then why don’t you shop at Yebhi and save on big deals. This basically was the highlight TVC for yebhi. The TVC came on TV screens in October 2011, we see a couple of hills and bigger valleys, the campaign has not helped the site as much as it would have expected it to.
HomeShop18: Now they aim at selling more through the 24 hours tv channel, and have the site to support it. They claim to be the biggest online store front in the TVCs that are generally seen only on Viacomm18 run channels. The site gets a lot more unique visitors since april 2011 than a few above mentioned sites. But i don’t know nuts about them. They were unable to sell a single copy of BACK SEAT, that when they were so excited to keep it and fought so much on their margins with me, as if they would sell a 10,000 copies per day.
Ebay: Their recent campaign, supplemented with huge OOH hoardings has managed to take their unique hits higher than flipkart by the end of last month. Ebay is actually a big name in the sector and oldest and more mature of everyone in the business in India. Their business is a milestone in Indian E-Commerce in more ways than one. And now when they are selling directly from their own warehouse like flipkart, giving deals like snapdeal, selling by classifieds like OLX, it is Mr. DoItAll of e-com in India. A TVC here is well justified to be in Sync with the competition. Though, it could have been more interesting and engaging like their counterparts.
Jabong: The surprise package that, had me writing this entire post. This portal was founded towards the end of 2011, and in a couple of months it ousted the likes of long standing flipkart, snapdeal and ebay? No one has seen their service before, the prices, i think are quiet high too, compared to 99label or even flipkart. the only thing that could have worked for them positively so early, certifiably would be their TV campaign.
Now here’s the real deal. The over crowded online lifestyle e-commerce space has been trying too hard already and out of the blue JABONG.com is getting more visitors than all of them ( I mean the once who are advertising aggressively, not that jabong is getting highest Unique Visitors in India)
Certainly, the TV campaigns is getting more people to trust the not too earlier untouchable e-com websites. The fear of using the credit cards or feel and touch have slowly been diminishing in the youth, that is much more occupied in work and facebook to go out and shop physically. Also, the lifestyle sector has been growing by leaps and bounds in India, and the online competition in these websites has given opportunities to us to shop what we want to show off for much less than actual pricing.
The easy loss of BRAND LOYALTY however comes because of LACK OF SERVICE and FALSE PROMISES that fall flat. The Television certainly is helping the overall adaptation of E-Commerce in India, but the kind of feedback and after sales concerns of the customers have not been addressed properly till date, and these websites, who have not yet managed to score any profits in the books ( VC money is not PROFIT) fail to deliver after sales service due to high per unit cost that they have to bare due to low pricing in the name of competition and heavy Deals.
This kind of tells us two stories.
One, that TV will help you get people come to you, it doesn’t not promise sales, it guarantees awareness rest everything would depend on what you have to offer.
Two, TV will help the customer switch as quickly as they came, with rising competition, you need to know how to retain your customer for good.
Three, maybe as long as you are on TV, you are a star, WHAT AFTER THAT? there is only limited money for the medium right?