Web

A reader published a comment on the previous post on Customer empathy – which I thought was something worth sharing with everyone – so here goes!


 

“I have been involved in manufacturing and sale of engineering goods for more than three decades in India now. I have certainly learnt that it helps to empathise with your customers to gain their loyalty.

This empathy comes easily so long as it relates to product design, because this actually helps you to improve the utility of your products!

However, it becomes impossible to empathise with customers in commercial matters of price and credit, for the simple reason that such misplaced empathy is the surest way to run your business into the ground at least in India! I mention this because customers in India are by and large not reliable in matters of timely payments.

In short: Technical Empathy? 100% Yes! / Commercial Empathy? 100% No!”


 

Firstly thanks Uday Sir for the comment. I loved the comment, and am taking the liberty to publish the same on my site as well. I agree with the sentiment and appreciate that it comes through with great experience! The thought however should be around how can all this be circumvented. Can a seemingly commoditized product also be delivered to customers with a fabulous value which is irreplicable. I think that is the challenge, and something that Internet companies are excelling at too!

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A comment on – Customer empathy in India and my response

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Business, Marketing, Strategy

Is Social Commerce a Bit of an Oversell?

Social Commerce has been a great talking point in the past couple of years. It’s based on a simple insight that marketers have known since kingdom come but haven’t been able to exploit – consumers don’t trust marketers, they trust friends and family. According to consumer research, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know1 and 70% of consumers trust opinions of unknown users2. And more importantly, consumers today need relevant and timely recommendations. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter got the “social” in place by helping us connect but how could marketers induce us to spend by simply “being social”? It so happens that our conversations with friends often lead to an exchange of information and recommendations on brands and goods that can spur purchases.

The First Wave

Notice the increasing number of social sites designed around interests – fashion, DIY, crafts, photography, travel, dining, et al.? Pinterest, Polyvore, Tumblr and Foursquare are a few that come to mind. Twitter and Facebook also have some elements of social commerce. Several of these sites have a visual interface like the mood-board on Pinterest that users can pin images onto along with the Twitter-like Followers concept to “like” or endorse other users’ boards. The idea is that we as users express our interest in ideas, themes, or even consumer goods because we enjoy personalizing and sharing our interests as an extension of our selves. In short, sharing interests gets people talking and talking leads to purchases. Sure it all sounds dandy, but it’s not without a few hiccups. Allow me to explain

1. Interest does not necessarily equal Purchase Intent

Monetate-convOne interesting factoid about social commerce sites like Pinterest, Polyvore and the like is that they have a strong female user base (nearly 70-80%). Categories like apparel, fashion, crafts, cooking, etc. dominate interactions. Women spend a great deal of time online browsing e-commerce sites for apparel, shoes, travel, etc. but may purchase very infrequently. They might like to create inspiration boards filled with items they love but they might not be able to afford a lot of those things or might not even think they need to buy them.

Monetate-order

This explains the data from Monetate’s Ecommerce Quarterly 2013 which compares conversion rates by referrer (source site where purchase process originated). Of course, some experts have suggested that most users may be loath to leave their interest-driven activities and get down to the drudgery of online shopping. Instead, they may use a search engine at a later date to purchase the item directly from the e-commerce site. Hence, these rates may be understated.

Though what’s exciting about social commerce is that average order values are fairly large, which means if the conversion rates could be improved, it could be highly effective

2. It won’t work equally well across all categories

There are two aspects of converting a social commerce interaction to a purchase: 1) The category of the good should be such that it stimulates social conversations and 2) The category of the good should be such that a recommendation is valued. In the offline channel, consumer research from a few years ago in the US stated the efficacy of word-of-mouth recommendations for various categories of goods as:
BIGResearchEating out and Apparel are two categories that have been explored in social commerce today because they satisfy the two conditions. But electronics, a high-involvement and expensive purchase which should rely heavily on recommendations, hardly figures on any social commerce site because it simply isn’t a topic that people discuss on a regular basis.

3. We are habituated to offline interactions

76% of Word-of-Mouth conversations take place in person3. The fact is that social commerce advocates expect that people will carry out social interactions online instead of or in addition to their offline interactions. That’s a big ask. Sure, some folks may give it a whirl for the sheer novelty of the online platform but the lack of sustained interest has felled many an exciting platform or app. Changing habits is not easy but not impossible either. Social commerce platforms need to cleverly convince users that it is worthwhile spending their time on online social interactions. The need gaps that social and e-commerce fill are networks and convenience – these should be unified to bring a truly valuable proposition for users.

4. Offer/coupon model does not ensure patronage

In a bid to build traction (in Groupon’s case, it’s the entire business model), most social commerce platforms tie up with merchants to offer deals and coupons, hoping that once users get a taste of the platform’s features, they’ll stay. It’s a problem similar to Facebook’s “Like” button on brand pages which research has shown is mostly clicked to avail of offers/deals. Once the offers dry up, so does the user base. Similarly, gamification strategies like those on Foursquare rarely build up any social incentives to sustain interest.

There’s no doubt that social commerce is here to stay. In theory, it’s brilliant. In its current format, however, the implementation is slightly lacking. Innovation in terms of balancing the social and commerce elements and clarifying the value propositions for consumers and businesses is much needed.

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Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Strategy

Opportunity hunting on the Internet

You have heard of so many things that the Internet has been promising to change for more than 15 years now. Whether it is the dream of online quality education, or finding dream job vacancies in Mumbai , or finding out amazing travel hotspots, Internet / companies doing online business has/have always tried to position themselves as ‘cutting edge’. I define this as ‘opportunity hunting’ – in essence Opportunity hunting is finding or discovering exactly what you want online!

Opportunity hunting has evolved –

One indicator of opportunity hunting online is the number of search visits on Google. How you may ask? Since the internet has evolved, there has been the phenomenon called the rise of platforms which unlock opportunities. Right at the start of Internet revolution in 1995, yahoo unlocked the opportunity of finding every important thing or ‘opportunity’ online on one single page. Then as the Internet started expanding and opportunities started getting created all over the place, there was the rise of the search engines, which can now be effectively put as the rise of Google circa 2002. Perhaps Google is the biggest ‘opportunity hunting ground’ on the Internet even now.

primary search engine interest graph

Number of searches of key search terms on Google since 2004

Then, in 2004 something happened. Internet started connecting people – first with the rise of Friendster, then orkut and then finally came Facebook. Facebook was a pioneer in what is called web 2.0 today and it unlocked a lot more and different ‘opportunities’ on the Internet. For one, it created social experiences – Check the Facebook widget on the right side of this page to know what I am talking about. Strat.in becomes a great place to hangout because of the people who read our posts, and that also excites authors to contact us!

Parallel to all of this, there was a rise of Wikipedia which unlocked Internet’s opportunity hunting from a knowledge perspective. Who would have imagined that the world’s most diverse encyclopaedia created is by a non-profit organisation? Or that Internet would crash the glass ceiling of knowledge which was till now reserved only for the privileged few who could attend universities? Similar examples of opportunity hunting include other such big platforms!

Right, so there are these opportunity hunting destinations – so how can you leverage them for your benefit ? Thats the moot question, isn’t it?

Here are my tips for opportunity hunting on the Internet

1. At least have a faint idea what you are looking for – That always helps! Even if you are looking for a date or an opportunity to work on a research paper with a professor from a top school in the world – knowing what you want always helps!

2. Start with Google & check out review sites – Typically, on the social web today, there are amazing review sites. Right from imdb or rottentomatoes for movies, to several book review / shopping sites for books – there are amazing ‘opportunities’ that have already been uncovered by people! Do not reinvent the wheel for opportunities such as these – to save time and even money!

3. Do not get overwhelmed with choices – Many a times, people get overwhelmed with choices. When you log on to a job site, do use filters well enough so that you can narrow down to a decent number of filters . Avoiding this situation helps when it comes to opportunity hunting!

4. If an opportunity is good enough, act on it – Indecision or not taking a decision is also a decision, remember that. Like in real life, opportunities do not knock everyday. If there is an opportunity you feel should be taken, then go for it! All great men/women have necessarily taken opportunities which others before them spurned !

What are your tips on opportunity hunting? Let us know in the comments section!

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Joglekar 984
Business, Technology

Five ideas to grow revenues on the Internet

Recently, the Gulf Maharashtra Business Forum ( GMBF ) organised a fantastic conference cum exhibition at the DWTC – World Trade Center in Dubai. The conference was an avenue for Small businesses from Dubai and India to know more about the markets from a market entry and business expansion perspective. This was of particular interest for small businesses from India. I was invited there to talk about Case studies of Startups and Small Businesses which are using Internet as an effective marketing medium. Here is the presentation I made there.

A quick jist –

1. Internet can change lives – Who in India knew of Psy before Gangnam Style went viral? Today, the video has more than 50 Crore views online, and thats a huge achievement. Psy has become a world figure because of Internet. A similar story with Kolaveri Di.

2. Don’t go by the buzzwords – All the high flying buzzwords should make little difference to startups. Don’t go by the hype. Just do one thing, but do that one thing really well.

3. Email Marketing – Groupon and Snapdeal did one thing perfectly, that was Email Marketing. Just use Email marketing to tell your customers that you care about them, that you are doing something new and you will be rewarded.

4. Facebook marketing – Quite a lot of innovative companies are investing heavily into Facebook marketing very intelligently. Facebook builds engagement, which is vital for startups. Check out Chumbak, Mirraw and Bewakoof for knowing what these companies are doing.

5. SMS and Mobile Marketing – Building a connect via SMSes is something the Banks and Mcdonalds have done well. No reason why startups cannot replicate that aspect.

As said in the last part – its all about dangling the right carrot!

To know more about how these ideas can be implemented for your startup – please write to us at siddhesh AT strat DOT in

Here are some pictures of the convention – Mahabiz 2012 –

Chief Guest Jayantrao Patil

Mahabiz conference

 
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Marketing, Web

Seven tips to sell your product using Internet

Presence on Internet today is not an option, its a necessity. But, just like merely opening a shop does not ensure its success, opening a website/ any other web presence does not ensure customers. There needs to be a plan, a thought out, executable plan with a timeline which needs to be put in place to ensure that you can use the internet in a profitable manner and acquire customers directly on the web.

1. Start small – Today, a lot of people will tell you to open a website and a facebook page and a google ad and a twitter account and a mobile website etc etc. Understand that your customer never asked you for that. I would always recommend to start small. I would recommend open a Facebook Page and start posting your products on the page. Alternatively, you list your products on free websites or on platforms to sell products like ebay or on educational marketplaces like trait etc.

2. What next after a Facebook Page? – After starting a facebook page – ensure that you post at least once a day on this facebook page. And every day, share this page with say 7 of your friends.

3. How to build activity – First rule of building activity is to encourage it. The answer to ‘How to encourage activity’ lies in (a) quick responses (b) Leading your audiences to talk (c) Posting about topics of general interest

4. Launching your first Internet presence – It may make sense to launch your internet presence, be it a website or facebook page, among your select customers etc. It can be a good avenue for interaction, thoughts exchange, networking as well as engagement.

5. Monitoring activity on the site – 3-4 months into your first web presence, you can start spotting trends about the website. That people check out certain pages more than others, that you are getting responses about a certain product or service more. Keep tracking all these things and accordingly post links to these pages more prominently on the Homepage. Remember that Homepage is the most frequently browsed page on the site and giving more visibility to an inside page on homepage is important even for Search engines like google.

6. Customer Testimonials – Its very important to build confidence among the community by posting testimonials by customers about your product. Keep posting testimonials regularly.

7. Set ambitious , yet achievable targets – Set targets such as getting 10 requests from the website in the 4th month of operation. Setting realistic goals is very important and it motivates the team in that manner.

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India 3G subscribers at 40 mn
Business, Technology, Web

Learnings for India from KPCB Internet trends presentation

Quick highlights for our readers –

100 mn mark breached – So, a lot of talk over the weekend about the Internet trends. India had a full 20 slides devoted to it, thats how seriously the global media takes India. First thing to note that India Internet users have crossed 100 mn successfully and now are at 120+ mn.

India Mobile users of Internet surpass the Desktop/Laptop – Next, Mary Meeker sees India’s unique phenomenon where Mobile users have passed Desktop users as a Good / Bad news. What I feel is that in terms of Mobile, India – and not any other country will act as a bellwether for the rest of the world. Reason is simple – In India, lot of mobile users don’t know enough English to use the laptop/desktop yet, in fact they get too intimidated to use the laptop/ desktop. Besides the mobile is extremely convenient to use too.

LOW ARPU – Average revenue per user problem on mobile – Another very interesting thing to note is that while ARPU on mobile has increased in Japan, it hasn’t done so in the US. The current models, both of Google and Facebook are being challenged as mobile proliferation hots up. Note that even Facebook’s billion dollar acquisition – Instagram – hadn’t even come close to solve the monetization problem yet. Clearly, putting ads within apps and waiting for ad dollars is not the way to go as far as mobile monetization is concerned.

Re-imagining life in India – As far as India goes, adoption of mobile and smartphones particularly will keep happening. Especially with dual sim smartphones coming to the market, expect an amazing tug of war for email users, social networking users, e-commerce junta and so on in India!

For those who missed the presentation, check it out below!

View more presentations from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Perhaps one of the most comprehensive presentations I have seen in recent times about the internet.



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Public Issues, Technology

Datasexual – The new ultra cool trend in India?

Just yesterday, I ran into a friend working with a major private bank in the country. As usual, he was cribbing about long work hours and the general disdain with which everyone is treated these days. But then something very unusual happened – for every person he was narrating to me about – he opened her cell phone and started showing Facebook profiles of these people! And then I asked him – why the urge to show Facebook profiles of all these people – the retort was – Aren’t you interested in knowing these people? Doesn’t this data about people make it more interesting?

My Answer really doesn’t matter, but matters is that so many people in India are carrying these silly smart phones in their pockets that have made data display so simple and second nature to human life. The modern urban male is not a metrosexual, rather he is a datasexual. Walk across any road on a crowded street, look at the tables across a crowded CCD on a Friday evening, run into a AC bus on a weekday morning – you would see people constantly transferring data, gossip, photos and visuals ! Indeed the addiction towards datasexuality has just started in India and is spreading fast!

It all started with the infographic, didn’t it?

The ubiquitous (now ubiquitous, I should add) pictorial image with a lot of data is possibly among the most shared items on the internet – after small kittens and lousy jokes obviously! However, that infographic got people to know one thing, people love data and different ways in which data is represented. And the rise of the datasexual started with that!

Foursquare – So little users, so much noise!

Foursquare doesn’t have much traction in India in terms of daily app usage (compared to international visits anyways) But the amount of usage by these datasexuals is pretty high in this case. And that is why Foursquare and Facebook location sharing is a lifeline of these so called datasexuals!

The big question – will they go mainstream ?

The question goes to the readers – will this trend of data obsession go mainstream? Respond to this in the comments section!

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Business, Entertainment, Entrepreneurship, Technology, Web

Dhunio – Categorization is Everything!

One of the best things about India is Music! Bollywood and its music defines us. One of the most common hobbies for Indian youth is …. watching movies and listening to bollywood music. Movies and its music drives India and is a part of the nation.

Still, such an important service and in no single place has it been categorized completely? Itunes does not yet sells Indian music or categorizes it. Lets not blame them for we Indians don’t have a habit of paying for music and thus we make it impossible to put capital behind it or generate revenue from it.

This is where Dhunio comes in. Dhunio has ambitiously made an attempt in this space and has categorized innumrable Indian music videos! The best part of their strategy is that the videos are sourced from Youtube which makes it cost efficient. Dhunio drives the part where it is best, Categorization.

Now one of the best part of Dhunio. If you are reading this article then please try this … Go to Dhunio, search for Rockstar, it will give you a list of songs from the movie, you can listen to them or click on any of the links … you can click on Imtiaz Ali, Ranbir Kapoor or Mohit Chauhan and each will give you a list of songs in which they are director / actor / singer respectively. Now this is Categorization!

Ofcourse there are many more additions and many other features. That is for you to check out.

 

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Business, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Strategy, Technology, Web

FlipKart: India’s Amazon

To be honest whatever I write is probably already covered in the video, except that Binny and Sachin Bansal are from IIT Delhi 2005 batch, one year senior to me! Flipkart is an amazing site and its success makes me very proud. Firstly because the founders are my seniors, secondly because it proves that ebusinesses are possible in India, and thirdly because instead of an established player a startup has been able to crack the ecommerce market of books in India. All credit to Sachin and Binny for having the guts to take the risk, leave their jobs, start a website and take it to such a level. Kudos guys and all the best for the way ahead.

Update: Just a day after this post the following came up in VCCircle! “FlipKart raises upto $10mn from Tiger Global”

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Public Issues, Web

Humans, Social media and Schadenfreude

Cross posted on Superchooha blog.

schadenfreude

When it comes to Human behavior enough is never enough.  One of the most  interesting traits of  human behaviour is situations we tend to find comfort and solace in. More then the situation its the conversation that happens that has a pacifying effect -but then conversation do not necessarily have to be relevant.  History has it that nothing is as pleasurable then watching your best friends fail at things – while I tend to disagree with that there have been cases where if not friends, but yes people have derived utmost pleasure from incidents absolutely irrelevant to them.

Welcome to whole a new world of human behavior – “Schadenfreude”

Here is a classic explanation of the german word – (More details here)

Schadenfreude — by Si Frumkin

Germans have a way with words. They created words that other languages simply do not have.

Schadenfreude takes 7 English words to define it: “malicious satisfaction in the misfortunes of others”. The dictionary explains it with a quote from historian Peter Gay — who felt Schadenfreude as a Jewish child in Nazi-era Berlin, watching the Germans lose coveted gold medals in the 1936 Olympics; he said that it “can be one of the great joys of life.”

Now picture this – 50 Million tweets per day. 60 Million Status Updates on Facebook  PER DAY.  Clearly we live in a world where reviews are written before a movie release, debates are held on naming of a product, and kids are named before a couple even has sex.

On a serious note, we are surrounded by opinions –  Good,bad,neutral and extreme,soft, hard. Opinions of every kind.  Thanks to the ease that platforms like twitter and facebook have provided to voice one’s opinion. While these tools have enabled companies to interact with their end customers by tracking their views about their brand, there have been cases where these opinions have created lead to PR nightmares. The human tendency of replicating negative emotion more vehemently over the positive one is not unknown any more.

For instance the Cleartrip Kiruba Incident (Cleartrip’s  Stand and Kiruba’s Stand ) was a issue between a company and a normal customer but the fact that Kiruba’s single tweet reached 1000’s of timelines and was further retweeted n number of times required the CEO of the company Hrush to step in and explain every action over a blogpost. Amidst all this close to 40 twitter updates were made that literally crucified Cleartrip for no good reason.  For some reason people RTed Kiruba’s tweet, while some enjoyed the drama – Amidst all this Cleartrip was defamed. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing but what the heck- people RTed whatever little they knew about the acutal story. Damage beyond repair was done to Cleartrip.

Chetanblock -Another classic example where people drew pleasure from a conversation between Chetan Bhagat and Fly youfools. Consequences – #chetanblocks trended for almost a day on twitter. Some body went on the extent of buying a domain chetanblocks.com. What next – they now intend to make tshirts saying #chetanblocks. All this while hundred’s of people used the hashtag #chetanblocks and thousands of tweets were  exchanged with very few people actually understanding what happened.

While there a dozen other stories where brands have been crucified, people have started deriving sadistic pleasure out of this trend of defaming. I still believe that most of the people don’t actually read facts before they actually share a negative opinion, without actually understanding the consequences their actions might have. They just do it. And yes as a friend of mine puts it – Sadistic pleasure is better then the real version of pleasure. Welcome to the world, the world you live in surrounded by Schadenfreude

I am no expert at understanding the human psychology but then yes Humans are Humans and social media platforms are no exceptional places for them to behave differently.

The next time you retweet a negative thought or share one on FB, for a moment put yourself in the shoes of the brand manager of the brand and ask yourself – Is this what I actually signed up for – To give justifications to people who believe that their brand is bad.  Food for thought.

From my personal experiences on twitter and facebook

Vivek Khandelwal

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