Monday, 3 August 2015

At The eTailing And Travel Commerce Conference 2015

It was all pre-planned.

An invite had to go out to chosen Bloggers to be a part of the Blogger's Contingent and represent Blogmint at the eTailing And Travel Commerce Conference 2015, organized by IAMAI.

I had been presented this opportunity as Blogmint was the official Blogging Partner for this exclusive event. #GrowEcom was to be on my mind, my Twitter TL and my blog as well.

For those of my readers who have been following me via my Twitter handle, @stiryoursouls, this post would be a refresher, because most of its contents have already been tweeted by me over a time span of two days.

There was an exclusive Blogger's Booth set up for the chosen ones, and we were made to feel comfortable for the time when we were attending the conference. I must admit however, that the conference had me so engaged in its anecdotes of wisdom from representatives of the leading brands in the country, that I did not find the need, nor had free time at hand to capture self-indulgent pics.

Though I was able to capture a couple of them, with me seated at the Blogger's Booth nonetheless.

Have a look. :)

Proclaiming to the atendees that I am a part of India's first Influencer Marketing Platform where Bloggers and Brands Colleasce. 

A couple of calls later, I had chalked out my itinerary for the next two days, to be spent listening to the ideologies and jotting down my key takeaways from the who's who in the eTailing and Travel Commerce domain.

The courteous staff at The Lalit, Barakhamba Road, hosted us for the 23rd and 24th.

Needless to say, this included industry bigwigs of the likes of Myntra, Ixigo, Yepme, Flipkart, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Stayzilla, Thrillophilia, Shopclues, Dominos, MakeMyTrip, Titan, Mobikwik, PayU, Meru Cabs, HolidayIQ, FernsnPetals, TripAdvisor, GoJavas, Yatra, PepperFry, Jabong, and even Blogmint themselves, among other prominent names.


Being my usual punctual self, I was there with the Blogmint Team, well by 0920 Hrs in the morn, when the conference was to begin at 0930 Hrs.

I could spot the various Sponsors being brought on one page, at first.

Mr. Kumar Karpe, CEO, TechProcess gave us a warm welcome and addressed the audience, hence inaugurating the conference.

Seated next to Mr, Karpe, is Sh. Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, GOI, who was quick to remark about how:

  • Advertising happens by word of mouth, and by bloggers writing about it.
  • People prefer to create their own experiences and personal itineraries. Gone are days of fixed plan traveling.
  • Now is the age of Reviews.
His closing remark was a hard-hitting truth, however. 

"The main challenge is to empower citizens, from job Seekers to job Creators!" :)

A special address by Mr. G Shankaran Nair, President, and Chief Strategy Officer, Servion Global Solutions was the highlight of the first half of the day. 

He began by putting forward a basic fact, quoted as thus:

A. We are all humans 
B. We are all consumers 


The Awareness Research Life Cycle was very well elucidated by him as thus:

  • Research on consumable
  • Get the consumable
  • Experience the  product
  • Experience the (pre-sale/post-sale) service

He made a statement which defines the changing scenario in today's time.

"Interaction with brands is no longer personal. I don't remember when I last visited my bank branch. I don't need to!" :)

While we proceeded to a quick QnA, Mr. Nair brought his address to a close with the following question:

" Brands today act as gateways selling somewhat same products. How does it affect Consumer Behavior?"

It is thus becoming increasingly difficult for brands to establish AND sustain a unique customer base.

The QnA also put forth some interesting thoughts.

  • Acquiring the consumer base and creating a unique identity to influence the buying behavior is key.
  • Something new comes your way, catches the consumer's fancy, fizzles out eventually.

There were two key takeaways from the Case Study Presentation on Measuring & Maximizing the quality of one's mobile app users by Mr. Anuj Kumar, Co-founder & Managing Director, Affle

  • Learn from the first hundred which you spend and spend the next hundred in a better, more optimal manner.
  • APP First and APP Only is the trend now! Re-engagement is the motive.

After a quick networking break, the ballroom had been split into two sections. I had attended all those sessions which were conducted in the first section of the hall, on both days. 

Plenary Session 1: Shop With A Tap: Scaling Up M-Commerce

Moderator: Anurag Singh, Co-founder & Executive Director - India, Affle


  • Shamik Sharma, Chief Product & Technology Officer, Myntra
  • Satyam Bansal, Director, Mobile Alliances, Flipkart 
  • Deepak Sharma, Head of Digital Initiatives, Kotak Mahindra Bank 
  • Pushpinder Singh, Founder, Travelkhana 

Key points of debate and/or discussion:

  • What are the challenges (limited screen real estate, still evolving mobile payment models, app discovery issues and speed constraints) faced by e-commerce players in the mobility journey? How are they tackling it?
  • How can e-commerce players ensure that mobile traffic translates to the user base and increased sales?
  • Is the app-only mode the way forward for e-commerce? Is the ecosystem ready for such a transition? 
  • How banks are adopting this platform?
  • What does the mobile revolution mean for mobility companies/app developers?

Key Takeaways:

  • M-Retail accounts for 60-70% of transactions. Not for Myntra though. It is 100%.
  • For a bank, the Web is going to stay and stay long.
  • The key is not only being present on Play Store but also being available on max platforms.
  • Myntra realizes that issues like network Connectivity, screen size make M-Retail experience cumbersome. 

The highlight of this session was the mobile app, Kotak Bharat, which works without any data/network charges, is sized at 1 MB, and is a multi-lingual service! :) 

Plenary Session 2: Customer Engagement: Delighting The Digitally Connected Customer Using Big Data And Analytics 

Moderator: Kunal Tomar, General Manager - Marketing Services & Business Information Sales, Experian


  • Dinesh Gulati, Director, IndiaMART InterMESH
  • Deepali Naair, Chief Marketing Officer, Mahindra Holidays
  • G. Shankaran Nair, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Servion Global Solutions 
  • Gaurav Kachru, CEO, Bag It Today
  • Abhishek Sharma, Entrepreneur & Product Head,
  • Nitin Agarwal, Sr. Director Marketing, ShopClues

Key points of debate and/or discussion:

  • How can big data analytics improve customer engagement and build customer loyalty in this sector? (E.g. personalized assistance, real-time analytics)
  • How can analytics be used to influence customer behavior on a portal?
  • How can big data analytics be used to drive digital marketing strategies?
  • Are Indian e-commerce players fully exploiting the potential of big data?
  • What are the technology tools/solutions that the players are investing on?
  • What will be the new use cases for big data analytics in e-commerce? 

Key Takeaways:

  • Big Data is not individual. It is statistical.
  • I only know my consumer through data points and how I harness those data points.
  • The Favorite Child Syndrome, of Channel Attribution.
  • If you are going to fail, fail fast, AND fail small.

Plenary Session 3: 
The modern consumer is Channel-Agnostic: 
Between Online and Offline channel experiences, it is the seamless experience customers really want. 
Being OMNI focused! 

Moderator: Milan Sheth, Partner – Advisory Services and Leader – IT-ITES Sector, EY India


  • Mayank Singh, Head e-Commerce, Dominos India 
  • Alokedeep Singh, Head eCommerce, Titan 
  • Gokul Gopalakrishnan, Head, India Business, Servion Global Solutions 

Key points of debate and/or discussion:

  • What are the dynamics of running the online and offline model simultaneously? What are the challenges and synergies?
  • What is the best way for an offline venture to go online: through acquisitions, joint ventures/partnerships with online retail players or doing it on their own?
  • How can the retail players ensure that the online channel does not cannibalize offline channel?

Key Takeaways:

  • Offline ventures go online, gradually.
  • Cost To Serve depends on the vertical you rely on.
  • Being OMNI channeled and brand conscious defines a GenX consumer.
  • 3Cs of online redressal of grievances: Correction, Communication, Convenience.

The most interesting fact was presented by Mr. Sheth - "For every product category online, there are 50 players offline!"

Plenary Session 4: New Realities In The Payments Landscape 

Moderator: Rajeev Narayanan, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, TechProcess 


  • Saurabh Srivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, Mobikwik
  • Nitin Gupta, Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer, PayU 
  • Deepak Chandnani, ‎Chief Executive Officer, South Asia & ME, Worldline 
  • Mohit Kabra, Chief Financial Officer, Make My Trip
  • Bhavin Mody, Director, E-Billing Solutions (EBS)

Key points of debate and/or discussion:

  • What are the new innovations shaping the payments landscape?
  • How does e-commerce drive credit card usage through tie-ups with banks for offers on usage?
  • How can the e-tailers reduce the cost of receiving online payments through innovation?
  • What has been the impact of the withdrawal of Zero-interest EMI schemes on e-commerce?
  • How does the advent of online/mobile wallets and huge investments in that space change the landscape of payments?

Key Takeaways:

  • Wallet must be seen as a means to aggregate funds AND Convenience is a subjective parameter.
  • Issuance and Acquiring sandwich the Kind of Transaction in between.
  • Compromise with user experience will enhance the rate of transaction failure.

On a lighter note, Mr. Saurabh quipped that Delhi Traffic was not as fast as transactions on MobiKwik while apologizing for arriving a tad bit late.

    And, with that, the curtains drew for Day 1 of the summit. Day 2 was bound to be as interesting. 

    The organizers were a little off-tone with the track of time for the next day, and hence the sessions were a little rushed through. 

    Mr. Amarjit Singh Batra, Country Head, OLX had stepped on the podium to kick-start the proceedings of Day 2 at #GrowEcom.

    He was there to speak about OLX's journey as a classifieds portal, its brand ideology, and the roadblocks which it had to face. 

    • We never say खरीद ले, we always say बेच दे!
    • We buy used houses, rent hotel rooms! Then why not consumer goods on OLX?
    • Inertia and hesitant participation, coupled with lack of awareness were roadblocks for OLX.

    There were a number of insightful lessons to jot down, throughout his Leadership Talk:

    • Lesson 1: Solve a big problem, it may be latent too.
    • Lesson 2: If something is being done, question yourself: Can you do it better?
    • Lesson 3: Own the space, not as a monopoly or dominance, but as a focused approach for a domain.
    • Lesson 4: Create Value, not Valuation. Value is created not by investors, but by consumers!
    • Lesson 5: Market Creation.
    • Lesson 6: India is a CONTINENT in itself. Bridging the gap of communication across cultures, and languages is a herculean task.

    One other key takeaway was the fact that in a country like India, where we have not reached full potential, eyes are on brick-mortar companies.

    The second Leadership Talk was to be addressed by Mr. Samyukth Sridharan – President and Chief Operating Officer, Cleartrip

    Samyukth planned to talk about Cleartrip's journey and its learnings. 

    The single most impactful statement issued was on the pertinent question: 

    Which one do you build - Mobile Web or APP?

    Our ideology - power lies with the consumer. :)

    To continue with the proceedings, Mr. Bipin Sapra, Partner - Tax & Regulatory Services, EnY took on the challenge of Untangling The Tax Hurdles and finding an answer to the question - Will GST Solve The Problem?

    Plenary Session 5: Driving Innovation in Road Transport in India

    Moderator: Manoj Marwah, Partner Advisory Services, EnY 


    • Anand Subramanian, ‎Director - Marketing Communications, Spokesperson, OlaCabs 
    • Siddhartha Pahwa, CEO, Meru Cabs
    • Neeraj Singhal, ‎Head of Expansion - India & the Subcontinent, Uber
    • Raghav Gupta, Country Manager, BlaBlaCar
    • Avinash Gupta, Chief executive Officer, Bookmycab

    Key points of debate and/or discussion:

    • How has the taxi aggregator space evolved? What impact is it having on Indians? Which are the next frontiers for expansion? 
    • What will be next steps for cab aggregators, will they go for taxi permits, acquire other leading radio taxi operators? How should the aggregators handle the key risks associated (e.g. security)?
    • How can ridesharing drive innovation in city-to-city transport? What are the opportunities and challenges?
    • How can investors spot the winners in the online transport space (taxi aggregators, ridesharing, etc.)? How have the different models performed in these spaces – in India and in international markets?

    Key Takeaways:

    • The biggest invention of mankind was the wheel and biggest problem is traffic.
    • Near misses end up being a fatal accident at some point of time.
    • A radio taxi service must ensure being reliable, safe and economical to establish customer base.

    Plenary Session 6: Building A Sustainable E-Commerce And Online Classified Venture

    Moderator: Dinesh Agarwal, Founder & CEO IndiaMART 


    • Pawan Gadia, CEO, Retail Online, FernsnPetals
    • Gaurav Mehta, Chief Marketing Officer, OLX
    • Varun Bothiyal, Co-Founder & Product Head, Clickindia
    • Hitesh Malhotra, Head of Marketing, Nykaa

    Key points of debate and/or discussion:

    • E-commerce has long been seen as a mechanism to boost entrepreneurship – what are the challenges for an e-commerce startup? 
    • How can the ecosystem support growth?
    • Online classified market has experienced significant growth since its inception – What can they do to scale up and sustain the business?
    • What is the litmus test or key success factors (KSFs) for a successful online model?

    Key Takeaways:

    • There is a gestation period in every business cycle. The second phase is of exponential growth.
    • Understand customer's buying behavior. Ensure a personalization model.
    • Buy and Sell are contrary ideologies. There is a whirlwind of the excess of goods and the paucity of consumers.

    Plenary Session 7: Connecting The Last Mile

    Moderator: Raj Singh, Digital Commerce Entrepreneur, TechMobia

    • Ashutosh Bajpai, Vice President & Head of Operations, DHL Express
    • Baldeep Singh, Director Operations, Jabong
    • Sharad Nawani, VP Operations, Pepperfry

    Key points of debate and/or discussion:

    • What are the main challenges faced by the logistics players in last-mile delivery?
    • Which factors decide the model to be adopted – in house vs. outsourcing
    • How can the logistics players predict demand, its peaks and troughs, and be prepared to meet peak demand?
    • What are the key technology solutions that the players are investing in?

    Key Takeaways:

    • Improved customer confidence will lead to a decline in no. of COD transactions.
    • Not much of machine automation, but IT automation, through technology is changing the game.
    • Customers are willing to pay a premium for faster delivery.

    Following this session was the most inspiring and informative Leadership Talk by Mr. Dhruv Shringi, Co-founder & CEO, Yatra.

    There were a number of radical thoughts:

    • 'Grow Fast or Go Home' was the motto.
    • Peter Thiel's From Zero To One's escape from competition was quoted.
    • The governing ideology was 'Growth is a must but Product and Service must come first'.

    Plenary Session 8: Investor’s Perspective – The Next Paradigm Of Ecommerce And Travel In India 

    Moderator: Sandeep Ladda, Partner and National Leader of Technology Sector practice, PwC India


    • Sarbvir Singh, Managing Director, Capital18 
    • Harish Bahl, Entrepreneur and Investor - Technology businesses, Smile group 
    • Tarun Davda, Venture Investor, Matrix Partners 

    Key points of debate and/or discussion:

    • Which segments are likely to be the next billion-dollar firms. Will it be in baby care, food, furniture or related e-commerce-related sectors such as logistics, payments?
    • What are the determining factors for a category to become mainstream and what is needed to achieve that?
    • What are the new/ innovative business models that are likely to emerge?
    • What is the DNA of a hot start-up? How do investors identify the next ‘big thing’ in the e-commerce segment?

    Key Takeaways:

    • The APP only business model has emerged rapidly.
    • Having gone Mobile-Only or wanting to, is a very bold move. Market leaders are setting a tone.

    With that, the conference wrapped up on its final plenary session and the audience was then, ready for the Valedictory Address by Dr. Lalit K. Panwar, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, GOI to formally bring the summit to a close.

    Two days of insightful interactions thus reached a graceful end with IAMAI and Blogmint. I will be thankful to both the ventures for having recognized and promoted the power of Blogging. :)

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