BANGALORE, INDIA: The digital revolution has changed the way consumers behave. It's all about convenience as one need not undergo the hassles of going to a shop. Shopping is just a click away.
In such a scenario, companies can't afford not to realign to the consumer taste. Hence the rush to take shops online and make them accessible from any gadget from anywhere.
In an interview with CIOL, Prabhu Kannan, director, Digital Commerce Capabilities, SapientNitro, discuses about the digital landscape and various opportunities available for businesses to expand their presence.
Q: What is SaipentNitro's strategy for India ?
In India, our strategy is to pursue global initiatives with local flavor. For example, we help CitiBank, Uni liver, or Coke with their social media initiatives.
We are not actively pursuing Indian clients as we are focused on our global clients. Our USP is to serve our clients globally and spread the local flavor across the world. APAC is our priority market now and for us APAC is mostly India, China and Australia.
Q: Can you explain the digital commerce landscape? How important is multi-channel marketing for companies today?
Prabhu Kannan:We are in an era of digital evolution. Everything that can go digital is going digital. Whether it's music, book, video, etc. And once it's digital, it is in demand all the time. So, this is fundamentally changing the consumer behavior.
Today, consumers can check out the best options on the Internet and decide where to buy a particular product. Today, brands have no say in selling points. And moreover, competition can come from anywhere.
Multi-channel commerce enables customers to choose their products using different channels.
Today, companies need to be wherever their customers are. So, they need to have a holistic strategy around various channels. Social media is one apart from digital touch points like mobile, tablet, kiosks and so on. Recently, eBay launched a store, which enabled customers to place orders using QR codes and get the goods delivered.
So there is a lot of innovation happening in this space.
Q: What is the revenue generation capability?
Prabhu Kannan: Last year, the digital commerce generated more than $150 billion revenue (in the US). A revenue of $35 billion was generated by online transactions during the Christmas holiday season itself.
In India too digital commerce is growing.
A lot of clients want to have online presence. For banks, being digital has already become primary. Businesses, which have high retail touch points, are going online.
There is a lot of offline marketing going online. Success of a marketing campaign can be measured to the minutest details possible.
We (SaipentNitro) bring in a lot of heavy lifting technology expertise as well as marketing, user experience and other creative experiences. Not many of the agencies in the world can boast of this kind of tech capabilities.
Q: What is the potential of digital commerce in India where broadband penetration is still low?
Prabhu Kannan: In 2011, the digital commerce in India accounted to about Rs.10 billion. After 15 years we (India) have reached 100 million Internet users and the number is expected to reach 300 million in the next few years. Now the growth will not just come from broadband connection but from mobile connections. Again, 59 per cent of the Internet users are active only through mobile so there is still ample opportunity. IRCTC, the online railway passenger railway system, sells 4 lakh tickets a day compared to 10 years ago.
Q: Geography-wise, do you see any difference in attitude of companies in adopting the multi-channel strategy?
Prabhu Kannan: If you look at the Western companies, in the past couple of years a vast number of them have actually transformed their dot-com presence to become multi-channels. Prior to that they were seeing online presence as an additional advantage.
Social media and mobile have moved from being objects of curiosity to the mainstream. The customers have become socially mobile and local too.
India may probably leapfrog this stage due to higher mobile penetration and lower broadband penetration. So, evolution-wise we may fast-track in specific areas.
Q: Most users of social media seem to be skeptical about online financial transactions and may not take a company's presence seriously. In such a scenario, what do you say about marketing success via social media?
Prabhu Kannan: A recent survey conducted by Digital Life found that 28 per cent of the social media users were actually comfortable using the platform. That's a good number. Obviously, there is going to be further innovation to attract more customers.
Consumption wise, there is an appetite to buy more. India has been in the forefront in introducing many innovative selling models. The cash on delivery, for example, is something unheard of in the US.
Still there are people who want to do business online without using a debit or credit card for the fear of safety. There are potential buyers who want to use only cash for purchases. So innovation on those lines would help in making online purchases more attractive.