26 July 2017

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Online Medium: The Multifaceted Segment for Business

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Online medium has become a multifaceted segment for business. Entrepreneurs from small and mid sized businesses are continuously using this medium for their business operation, development and several other important areas of business. In an exclusive interaction with Faiz Askari, Editor-Technology, Small Enterprise India.com, Pranay Chulet, CEO, Quikr India has shared some important trends that are driving this segment.

 The interview excerpts:


1. What are the unique trends you observe in the online classified market?

The online classified industry has been growing fast and continues to grow further as more and more people realize the power of digital classifieds. It started with the entry of vertical players that focused on areas like jobs, matrimony and real estate. Over time, it became evident that as much as the vertical players were useful, there was also going to be a need for a horizontally positioned classified platform that offered a simpler, quikr experience across multiple categories. Such a platform would also be able to address user needs across a lot of other categories (for eg: Electronic goods, Services, Entertainment, Education etc) for which there existed no proper online marketplace. This led to the evolution of horizontal classifieds companies, like Quikr (www.quikr.com), that help buyers & sellers, across a lot of different categories, meet and transact for many of their needs on one platform.


2.   What kind of companies come forward in this? And why?

Horizontal players, Vertical players and Aggregators are the different types of players in this space. Vertical players focus on one area like jobs, matrimony, etc. whereas Horizontal players address user needs across multiple categories. Aggregators address user needs by aggregating content from multiple horizontal/vertical players. The reasons for different players to exist are differences in their business strategy. While the verticals focus on providing deep experience and capture the finer nuances of an individual category (eg real estate), the horizontals typically follow the strategy of providing a simple, consistent experience across categories, which allows them to target a larger portion of the market.


3.   What are the drivers of online classified market?

Online classified segment is a more powerful, effective, interactive and accessible medium, and has a reach higher than print classifieds. It is the online classifieds’ ability to target users in a localized way that is driving the growth of the segment. Plus it certainly helps that it is more cost effective than print as a medium. Today we are growing fast as an economy so both print and digital classifieds are growing, but if you look at what has happened in more developed economies where the pie is not growing as fast, you will see that digital classifieds have taken share from print everywhere. So over time, there is no question that online classifieds will take more share from print and continue to grow fast.


4.   Micro and small businesses have also shown great interest in this. Please share your views on how MSMEs of India are using online as an effective medium for selling and sourcing their business critical components?

Today millions of small businesses and entrepreneurs across India have already discovered the power of online classifieds and are using it effectively to start and grow their businesses. On Quikr, MSMEs are providing services across a variety of categories ranging from Cars to Real Estate to Jobs to Services and everything in between. People in big and small cities are providing services like dance & cooking classes, tuitions and career counselling sessions, and generating good incomes for them.


We are already seeing great word-of-mouth amongst SMEs where they are talking to each other about the growing share of business they are getting from Quikr. But in addition, we also have online and offline marketing programs and other outreach programs that we use to introduce ourselves to MSMEs, educate them of the benefits and get to know them better. Those who are interested in seeing how easy it is to use our platform can directly go to Quikr and post a free ad in 30 seconds… if you are like most of our users, you’ll be delighted by the number of business leads such a simple step can generate. Ultimately the proof of the pudding is in the eating – once you experience the platform, you will realize its power in helping SMEs promote their businesses.


5.   How Micro and Small businesses can get maximum benefit from online classifieds? How this medium can be used as an innovative tool for their business development?


Online classifieds offers three benefits for business promotion which only rarely appear all together in one place: it is faster, better and cheaper. Faster, because you can create an ad on Quikr in a minute and make it live for millions of people to see it. Better, because this ad can be as rich as you want, complete with detailed text and images, and also because it is very well targeted. A platform like ours gives you the ability to target the ad not only to a specific city, but even within a locality in that city. And cheaper, because you can post your ads either for free, or in some cases, pay an optional fee to make them more prominent.


Quikr can be used from mobile phones by going to our mobile site (the address on our mobile site is the same: www.quikr.com) and performing all the actions directly on the phone like posting ads or responding to those who have posted ads. Users can also use the Quikr mobile app on their J2ME enabled mobile phones for performing all the above actions. All you need to do is go to www.quikr.com and download our mobile app.


6.   What challenges do you foresee in this area?

While some small businesses might be new to the world of digital media, overall there aren’t any major challenges in their beginning to use this channel to develop their businesses. Any new thing takes some getting used to, but it is very easy to start using a platform like Quikr to start marketing your products/services. Even those who don’t have regular access to computers and internet can benefit by using their mobile phones to access the internet, or in our case, use our platform by downloading our app as mentioned above.


7.   What is the awareness level about this among the small businesses?


A large number of small businesses are already beginning to use online classifieds to further grow their businesses, and this number continues to increase with each passing day.


8.   Online classified as a segment has to deal with several important aspects: logistics, payment gateways, cash on delivery, guaranty  etc are some of the important aspects. What is your view on this? How is the mind share is changing towards all these aspects?


In fact, online classifieds by their nature do not have to deal with the issues associated with logistics etc. It is pure play e-commerce where people have to buy things online where these factors come into play. Pure play e-commerce in India has had many challenges such as low credit card penetration, shipping, people’s preference for negotiating and buying in person etc. But a classifieds platform is a handshake platform. It just connects the buyer and the seller and lets them transact in their own way – in person, on the phone, on email, whatever. So if at all, these factors make a classifieds platform even more attractive in a market like India.


9.   User's trust on online medium is also important. In this direction, companies like yours can adopt initiatives to expand the awareness about security in online transactions. Please share your viewpoint on this?


As stated above, we do not expect our average user to conduct online transactions with sellers – we let them conduct the transaction offline. The only area where we have online transactions is when small businesses pay us to place premium ads on our platform. These premium ads are given more visibility in our platform so that they attract a higher number of visitors, thereby generating more business leads for small businesses. We are constantly educating small businesses and other users about the high security levels built in our platform which ensure the safety of their credit card numbers and other details that they submit while paying for these premium ads. Ours is a highly secure and reliable transaction environment and our users see that once they conduct their first transaction with us.


10.   In conclusion, what expectations do you have from this segment in next two years?

We have only seen the tip of the iceberg. There are millions of small businesses in this country who can grow their businesses by using classified platforms like Quikr. In the last year or so, the number of small businesses using our platform has increased very significantly and we fully expect this growth to continue and even become more intense.

 

 

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