Students from top academic institutions joined marketplace biggies to mark the fourth edition of E-commerce Day. On the occasion, hosted by ShopClues in association with Droom, industry stalwarts came together to take stock of the e-commerce space in the country, assess the challenges ahead, and figure out the best way forward.
Clearly, there's a lot of curiosity around e-commerce. Sandeep Aggarwal, founder of ShopClues and Droom, said that given the right ecosystem, e-commerce offered the chance for a young entrepreneur - one not born with a "silver spoon" in their mouth - to become a local hero, to replicate the American dream in India.
"The industry is likely to generate 2.5 lakh jobs in online retail in 2016-17, and hiring is expected to grow at 60-65 per cent. I foresee our young demographic dividend to become much more confident, risk-taking and innovative," Aggarwal pointed out.
But e-commerce in India is still only a small part of the overall market, he maintained, adding the segment will not grow until these marketplaces learn to innovate and look beyond offering discounts and providing, instead, an overall "experience" for the online shopper. "Right now, competition is driven by fear, insecurity and ego, and everyone is trying to outsmart each other."
In a panel discussion, Mohit Ahuja - senior director-marketing, Droom - spoke of how these are early days for the sector in India. "Things aren't very defined at the moment," Ahuja said. Meanwhile, Nitin Kochhar - VP-categories, ShopClues - insisted that delivery of "great" customer experiences depends on merchants being kept happy, while Avinash Parhi - director-categories, ShopClues - stressed that an app-only strategy is likely to backfire.
Also in focus was marketing, and whether new-age or traditional methods work best. But there was unanimous agreement on the fact that web marketplaces need to figure out what sells and understand what the customer wants.
So the takeaways from E-commerce Day were take risks, innovate and learn on the job. The event was attended by management graduates and aspiring entrepreneurs, all eager to tap into exciting potential that e-commerce holds. Among the institutions present were Xavier School of Management, Symbiosis Institute of Management, Management Development Institute and IIM.