Tenets for building relationships online growing

MUMBAI: The world is going online and Indian businesses and consumers are not far behind in accepting the notion of online purchases and e-commerce sites.

‘The Building Essential Relationships in the Online World: emerging Business Models and more’ session at Ficci Frames 2012 explored the possibilities that are open to this trend and how the success stories from India came into being. The moderator MEF Americas chairman Ralph Simon and the panelists Nielsen MD Farshad Family, Hungama Digital and bollywoodhungama.com CEO Albert Almeida and Flipkart digital distribution head Sameer Nigam lent their own perspectives to this.

Simon coined the term ‘Screenagers’ for the population that alternates between the online, mobile and television medium for entertainment or communication.

Family provided some statistics about how the population in India is increasingly accessing the digital space on a daily basis.

According to the latest Nielsen report, smartphone users on an average spend two to two and a half hours on their phones out of which 20 to 25 per cent is spent for communication while the rest is spent surfing the applications.

In the age group of 18 to 24 years, the time spent is more than three hours a day on smartphones. “This indicates a impact on the media consumption on the whole, but doesn’t necessarily mean that time spent watching TV is affected as many houses now have one TV set while the children have smartphones. So the number of people watching the TV together may decrease, but both the screens are used in any case,” Family concluded.

Following this pattern, one can see that the digital medium is gaining acceptability and it is now easier for businesses to attract online purchases. “The trigger points for an online purchase are convenience, value and trust in that order,” explained Family. Considering that the digital space is a novel medium, the players have more wriggle room and space for experiment in the process of discerning the taste of the ‘Screenagers’.

Taking the session forward, Nigam explained how Flipkart is focused on generating trust amongst its patrons and providing convenience. “For this, we are in the process of making online shopping as convenient and trustworthy as possible through features like cash on delivery. In a market that still believes in assuring the quality of the product after a touch and feel experience, cash on helps in inculcating trust of the buyers.” Additionally, the online dealer is also developing its own logistics chain in order to deliver efficiently and safely.

Almeida offered that the key for any online business to thrive is to offer value. The QUE or the Quality User Experience is what really sells one’s online business and to gain the loyalty of customers in an age where choice is ample, providing value can make a big difference.

“Brands have begun to realise that mere advertising or pushing the communication towards the consumer is no longer going to work. They have to be involved in the conversation that their consumers are engaging. Take for example the automobile brands. They realised that Indians love to discuss automobiles online and to make themselves noticed, they just need to be a part of these conversations. Hence you see auto brands are becoming increasingly active on the social media platform.”

Nigam concluded that the Indian consumer is communicative and thus engaging him in a two way interaction is a good way of knowing what the brand is doing wrong or more importantly what it can do to make the experience better.

Mobile, according to the panel, is the medium of the future with the penetration being deep. Smartphones, though finding a lot of takers in the urban areas, will lag behind features phones and, thus, IVR services will find takers for the time being.

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