E-Commerce Conclave : Industry Deep Dive at IIM Kozhikode
As a part of the Industry Deep Dive – a semi annual sectoral conclave, the Industry Interaction Cell of IIM Kozhikode hosted the E-Commerce Conclave on 22nd September, 2012 with eminent speakers Dr. Naveen Amblee, Professor -Marketing Management, IIMK; Mr. Praveen Sinha, MD and Co-founder of Jabong; Mr. Alok Goel, Chief Products Officer of Redbus; and Mr. Rajesh Iyer, Chief Marketing Officer Pepperfry.com.
The Conclave comprised of two sessions, the first one being the Speakers’ Podium and the next one being a Panel Discussion.
Speakers’ Podium –Faculty and Industry Participation
Introductory Note – Prof Anupam Das, Chairperson Student Affairs – IIM Kozhikode
The session was kick started by Professor Anupam Das, Chairperson – Student Affairs, who started off on a jovial note referring to the gender ratio of the audience and how the men might need “shaadi.com” to find partners for themselves. He went on to speak on the social aspects of media, how it is “publicly private and privately public” and how technology itself is not bad- it is the people who decide how to use it. With respect to business, social connections can find strength in weak ties.
Bridging the Online and Offline World – Dr. Naveen C Amblee, Professor – Marketing Management, IIM Kozhikode
The next speaker, Dr. Amblee, spoke on bridging the gap between the online and offline worlds. In the earlier days, one hardly had any identity on the internet. Gradually with the introduction of emails and now with sites like Facebook, one’s online and offline lives have become connected. He emphasized on how smartphones bridged the gap. Dr. Amblee spoke about the benefits to e-commerce- improving existing services, enabling existing services and creating new offerings. He spoke of how re-embodiment is taking place on the net with augmented reality. All these factors sew the world together and make e-commerce a very real and personal experience.
Addressing the distribution bottlenecks in the Indian e-commerce landscape – Mr. Praveen R Sinha, MD & Co-Founder, Jabong
Next speaker on the podium was Mr. Praveen Sinha – MD & Co-Founder, Jabong. He spoke on the distribution bottlenecks faced by e-commerce companies of today in Indian context. He emphasized on the fact that though e-commerce is a marketing effort at present, but soon it will become a technological and a supply chain effort.
He spoke of the main challenge that e-commerce faces- a reliable delivery system. The main issues an e-commerce venture faces are its process design- informing the customer in case of delays; tax structure- a hurdle for interstate shipment; and infrastructure. Jabong took up every challenge as an opportunity and that is what led to their success in a short span of 10 months.
Changing Consumer Behavior towards e-commerce in India – Mr. Alok Goel, Chief Products Officer, Redbus
The next speaker Mr. Goel began with the state of internet users in India. Predictions said that the number of users in India would stagnate at around 80 million due to technological, economic and language barriers. However that was not the case as the users have gone up to a staggering 120-130 million. E-commerce gained popularity in USA due to their consumer preferences of looking at mail catalogues and ordering items. But in India the consumer behaviour is different as people prefer a touch and feel factor in what they buy. This is why e-commerce in India has to provide immensely high quality of products and services to convince the users. The key to success for ventures like Redbus was building user trust and providing instant gratification.
Future of the E-commerce Industry in India & Career Prospects for budding MBAs in this sector – Mr. Rajesh Iyer, Chief Marketing Officer, Pepperfry.com
The final part of the session was taken by Mr. Iyer who addressed the issue of what the future holds for e-commerce. Internet usage has gone up from less than 8 minutes/day in 2004 to 27 minutes/day in 2012. Consumer base has risen from 4 million to 15 million and is still on the rise. The purpose of internet usage has moved from basic communication to information gathering to entertainment, and in the future e-commerce will gain upper ground as fundamental demographic shifts in internet users is taking place.
He concluded the session by saying that, most importantly, the best opportunity offered by e-commerce is entrepreneurship. E-commerce is here to stay.
The session was followed by a question-answer round.
Tripartite Panel Discussion involving Faculty-Industry-Students
The speaker’s podium was followed by a panel discussion involving Mr. Praveen R Sinha (Managing Director- Jabong), Mr. Alok Goel (Chief Products Officer – Redbus), Mr. Rajesh Iyer (Chief Marketing Officer- Pepperfry.com), Prof. Rajesh S Upadhyayula (Professor – Strategic Management, IIM Kozhikode), Prof Deepak Dhayanithy (Professor – Strategic Management, IIM Kozhikode) and two final year students of IIM-K – Ms. Swati Gupta and Mr. Dipto Kar.
The topic of the panel discussion was “Leveraging Social Media for a successful e-commerce model”.
Prof. Rajesh S Upadhyayula introduced the discussion by explaining that how the users are currently engaging with the social media and how e-commerce companies can employ various marketing concepts to attract more consumers to their websites. He also discussed that trust and privacy today are the major concerns for the online users and once these concerns are dealt with, there is immense opportunity for e-commerce industry. The panel then ensued in a discussion on how the brands are engaging with the customers on social media and how e-commerce companies can leverage these experiences to build a greater customer engagement through these platforms. The panel also stressed on the greater role being played by the social media in building an enhanced customer service network and in targeted advertising based on a customer’s choices and preferences. They all agreed that the information shared by the consumer on these sites is extremely valuable and can be used to understand the consumer preferences and insights. The discussion concluded with the panelists converging on the opinion that social media will have an ever-increasing role to play in the evolution of e-commerce.
The session ended with a vote of thanks from one member of the Industry Interaction Cell, IIM Kozhikode and handing over the memento to the dignitaries.
The event was followed by a Corporate Dinner.
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