Webinar presented by ww.dotconverse.com on the relevance and importance of ecommerce for B2B companies. Some of the key points discussed in the webinar include:

1) How & Why should B2B companies adopt eCommerce

2) Key strategies for success

3) What should be the key expectations & metrics

Speakers: Saurabh Pandey, Founder, CEO, dotConverse, Former COO of OLX India, Ex-Google, Bharti Airtel & ibibo and Rahul Sethi, CMO, Ingenico ePayments India, ex-Co-Founder LadyBlush, President- eCommerce, ibibo group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuponation.in is the latest entrant in the online couponing space in India.  Founded by Chirag Rakshit and Sahil Shah. CupoNation aims to become the largest coupons and deals website for Indian online shoppers.

We are pleased to publish an interview with Sahil Shah, Co-Founder below:

Please tell us about CupoNation, how it started, where are you based, and team members

CupoNation was founded in September 2012 by Chirag Rakshit and Sahil Shah.

Chirag Rakshit (year of birth 1984) was born and brought up in Delhi, India and is an alumnus of Birla Institute of Technology and the Indian School of Business. He has considerable work experience in marketing, brand management and consulting roles across India, South East Asia and the Middle East.

I, Sahil Shah (year of birth 1988) am originally from Bangalore, India and graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology with a  B.Tech in Chemical Engineering. Post that, I worked in Monitor Group, a strategy consulting firm.

Indian e-commerce industry has been booming for the last 2-3 years. People are always looking for discounts. The idea was to give the user a repository of the best coupons and deals before he/ she makes an online purchase.

Our team here is very young and fresh with a highly motivated and professional outlook to work. The best aspect for us as a team is that we operate on a horizontal hierarchy which makes communication much easier and less rigid. One thing common to all of us is our faith and trust in this startup and its success.

CupoNation offers discount coupons, deals and voucher codes providing up to 60% discount on a vast selection of categories – ranging from items like Electronics, Books, Apparel, Flowers and Gifts to services like Insurance, Restaurant, Movies and many more.

 

Since a lot of sales happen in-store in India, how does an online couponing platform scale up? 

The e-commerce space has seen tremendous growth both in number of orders and average basket value. Since we get a commission on the sales value and the numbers of we deliver, this model is indeed scalable with the growth of the e-commerce space.

 

Given that there are so many couponing platforms already available like Couponraja, Khojguru etc., how do you differentiate?

Our coupons always work, as we have stringent quality check guidelines. Our website has also been designed in such a way that the consumer spends time and uses the coupons.

 

How do you compare yourself to Deal sites?

While we do not do daily deals which are available on some other platforms, but we do show ongoing deals from various retailers. This helps the user make the best decision.

 

Technology or content- which do you think is your USP?

It would be both. From a technology perspective we are able to try out new layouts and designs for the website which are attractive for the users. When it comes to content, we try to make it easy to comprehend and consumable for the users.

 

Are you planning to incorporate offline stores? If yes how would you face the challenge of hyper localization? Do you think hyper localization will matter at all?

No, currently we have no plans of incorporating offline stores.

 

Do you think Facebook or foursquare, twitter etc. can be a competition to you? Or do you see them as potential partners? How?

We see them as potential partners. Facebook and Twitter are an integral part of our social media activities.

 

Any funding so far? Details?

Yes we have received one round of funding from the Investors in EU. The funding amount is in two digit million €.

 

What is your monetization model? 

We get a commission for every sale that we deliver to an e-commerce company. This commission is pre-decided and is either a fixed amount or percentage of the sales value.

 

How do you segment the overall couponing market, and what gaps do you see?

Currently the financial and the real estate sectors are not tapped by couponing players. Our aim is to enter this white space in the near future.

 

Hello Friends,

In this edition of the ‘Guest Post’ we have Bhavesh Thakor, Publisher of AutoCar -The cult magazine for car lovers across the world among other titles.

This article delineates the quandrum and confusion of a print medium that is trying to now also break into the online medium. Bhavesh rightly raises a few questions with pertinence to how the medium can be sold and the challenges that his sales team faces. What’s your take on these questions?

Last week we were having a sales planning meet and the discussion veered towards the usual print v/s online debate.

In my mind it’s not even a debate as it cannot be print v/s online. Marketing mix is determined by the effectiveness of each medium. It is determined on the basis of the right combination or as per the priority or interchangeability and weight age of each medium for every campaign and cause.

It pains me to explain my team; who comes back with the same objections from the agency and client as to what will be the click rate and or lead for their online campaign?

It brings us to the following pertinent questions

Q1. Is online medium a mere response mechanism and result oriented medium?

Q2. Is brand building not an acceptable outcome on the online space?

Q3. How long would the performance metrics dominate the online landscape?

Let’s take a classic case of one of the most prominent category of advertisers on the net; the ‘Automotive category’

Most of the automotive majors, who are spending big bucks on a brand building campaign across all the mediums, get back to the rhetoric of CPL and CPC when it comes to the online medium. They are interested in how many test drive can a portal/website generate at the end of their campaign or how many clicks can it provide or how many contestants participate in the contest that they agreed upon.

Is it? Is this how you want to integrate your brand building campaign online? Is this the yardstick with which you want to measure the effectiveness of a medium/media?

Wake up! Smell the coffee! How many times does a consumer pre-book a Test drive before he actually takes one? There are no serpentine queues in front of any dealership that you will have to spend hours waiting for your turn. Nor will a dealership turn down a walk-in test drive. If that is the case then are you really expecting a user to fill up the data and book a test drive; then why do you put this as a yardstick for your campaign?

Shouldn’t the nature of the campaign steer your requirements on the online arena? Shouldn’t the timing and users profile and other such factors determine the nature of your campaign?

Then why should so much or only emphasis be given to the performance metrics while buying an online media?
Why is then PIs, UVs, CPC, CPL given more importance over the words like engagement, timespent, tenancy and profile of the user?

So who is responsible?

Is the advertiser who is still coming to terms to harness the power of online medium in its marketing mix? Is it the young dude in the agency who is on a number crunching steroid? Or is it the overzealous sales person representing the medium who wants to bag the campaign at any cost without being worried about the intrinsic values of his media?
While online medium gives us the much wanted transparency, measurability and accountability, it is the judicious use of these same parameters that we must set for it to be fair to the medium. Stereotyping will only lead to getting myopic with the medium.

About the author:
bhavesh thakore

Bhavesh Thakor works as a Group Publisher with Haymarket Publishing (India) Pvt. Ltd.; the publishers of the popular specialist magazines like Autocar India, Stuff India etc.
With over 17+ years of experience in media and marketing, Bhavesh is a keen observer of the new media and is a marketer by heart. You can reach him at bhaveshthakor@hotmail.com;

Harbinder Narula is an online and mobile VAS specialist who has served at various senior levels with companies like Google, Times Group, Buongiorno and Aryty. He was the first business development hire for Google India where he initiated the GOOG short code on mobile and then went on to lead Content Partnerships for Google in India. His aggressive partnership approach set the launch pad for an early launch of YouTube India. Prior to that he also launched the Indiatimes Voice service across various telecom operators in India. In his last corporate role he was the Head of Operator Business for a VAS company called Buongiorno. About two years ago he started his first venture which he recently re-structured and exited. While he is recovering from his entrepreneurial stint and awaits his next corporate move, he is spending time mentoring start up entrepreneurs, consulting with companies looking at doing business online and authoring a book.

“I left my cushy job about two years ago to become a full time entrepreneur. After working with companies of varied sizes and nature, I took time off to pursue my dream of setting up my own enterprise. This has been one of the most humbling experiences in my life till now and this short journey has taught me a more than what I had learnt in my past career of 15 years.

I thought it would be a good to list an account of my learning based on my first entrepreneurial journey. I am listing my learning as my suggestions to anyone who intends to start a business.

Don’t waste your time in creating that “perfect” offering: I am not saying that you should not aim at achieving perfection or don’t focus on quality, but it just delays your launch and the opportunity may be high-jacked by someone else in the market. Also, we try to perfect the product / service based on our own assumptions of what the user wants. Get your product out and market response will help you perfect your product / service.

Grab that space: If you are launching an innovative product / service, grab that space. Announce your entry. Try and position yourself with the market leader and focus on the innovation. Try spending time with the journalists and bloggers who focus on that industry domain. Give demos and share your thoughts and passion. Note: Please remember that your innovation or offering should be news worthy. PR is something that you cannot go wrong with.

Don’t overstaff: One of common problem with people who leave their well paying jobs during mid career is that they assume certain things as granted. One of the most dangerous things is to start hiring people reporting to you to do things for you. This action stems out of the fact that we start taking our self worth for granted on the basis our last job. We start assuming our self image / value and start believing that certain things are not worth our time. We assume that our necessity to do things ourselves is low and we start hiring a support team. This is one big cause of increased cost and depletion of funds.

You don’t necessarily need a proven team: We tend to believe that proven teams comprise people who have worked with large corporate and brands for the last couple of years. Some of these guys could have been pure lucky. Believe me, it is a different ball game when you are playing with someone else’s money while your own income is secured. Proven teams to me are people who are self-starters not backed by brands, but most of these guys are busy with their own ventures. While building my next business, I would rather go with young, inexpensive people who are hungry to achieve results. Larry & Sergey did not have a proven team when they started Google. Don’t get into the trap of “hiring” a proven team just because it appears be the important thing for attracting VC money. Believe me; VC looks at a proven team that has skin in the game, so for them it is the Founder and Co-Founder(s) that comprises the proven team. I would even go a step further and say that your product (even if it is a proto-type) and the go-to-market plan must showcase the “skill” of the team rather than large brand names mentioned on a piece of paper next to their names.

Do not ask everyone for advice: Select the people whose advice matters to you and stick to it. Don’t ask just anyone or everyone for advice on what you should be doing. Each one has his/her own experience basis which they will guide you, while your circumstances and nature could be very different. They do not know your business better than you and sometimes it is just difficult to share your vision in the manner that they will understand. Also, you cannot trust everyone with your business plan. I would think it is better to carefully select a mentor and one or two advisors with whom you can discuss your business. Ensure there is no conflict of interest. I would also think it is wise to share some small token stake. People work more willingly for their own interest.

Don’t insist on a VC fund to sign a NDA: Venture Capitalists are approached with various business plans each day. Some of these could be similar in nature to your business. It is unfair to believe that no one else could think the way you think and VC should not meet anyone else because they have met you. When I joined Google, I was bustling with ideas, till such time that I saw many of my, so called “unique” ideas, had been in the development stage, if not already developed and scrapped 😉 by others.

Focus on cash flow: Nothing is more important in a start up than having enough money to pay your bills. This means that you structure your business and deals with short business cycle and payment terms. It may take time for you to get profitability but in short term, having cash to keep the operations live is important. Keep the costs low. It is important that the founders take just the lifestyle fee instead of their market salary till such time that the business attracts funding that is enough to be able to afford that. While I say this, I also believe that founders must pay themselves first. You are the only indispensable employee of your company till it has grown and has investments from third parties. Also, how can someone focus on business while his biggest worry is to pay his rent and provide for food on the plate for his family?

Set realistic & measurable goals: While it is good to plan for the Rs. 100 crore milestones, it is equally important (if not more) that you focus on how to achieve that first Rs. 1 crore. I have seen that when we keep our ambitions very high, we tend to spend as if we have already achieved that target and alienate ourselves from the reality. Break your large ambitions into small and short time milestones and track them.

Focus on sales: A person like me who have the passion for creating new products and taking them to the market, get carried away with the picture of creating that “perfect product” that we keep delaying the sales process. Nothing is more important than bringing in revenues. So keep your focus on sales and your product can keep getting refined and evolved, in fact even better with continuous customer feedback.

One last piece of advice for budding entrepreneurs is that if you have a dream then live your dream and do not operate from the fear of failure. It is more fulfilling to live with a business which has not taken off than to live with regrets of not trying. Your business does not fail, it’s the way you do it that fails.”