GenNext Entrepreneurs

Published Date
01 - May - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - May - 2005
 
GenNext  Entrepreneurs
Where there's a will, there's a Web portal. An adage 'tweaked' for 21st century reality, best describes the endeavours of five entrepreneurs in India who have utilised the marketing portal 'eBay.in' to augment their hitherto offline businesses.

Sangeeta Gupta, vice president, Events, National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), says, "The growth of the Internet and the e-commerce market in India has provided an opportunity for SMBs and entrepreneurs to sell their products to a global marketplace, and also find partners or customers in markets they couldn't reach earlier.

Although, this trend is not as widespread today, it is likely to proliferate with the growth of websites that provide entrepreneurs this oppportunity."

Click To Sell
Chennai-based Shobha Suresh and Sudha Ravishankar own Trendyjute, a business dealing in jute and jute products. Childhood friends and former colleagues at a credit card company, the duo flipped for all things jute, a few years ago.

This mutual 'passion for jute' materialised into a business of customised jute products, built largely through word-of-mouth referrals. Trendyjute, earlier a local offline distributorship, soon started getting queries and orders from all corners of the nation, and even from people travelling abroad, and NRIs-all through a listing on eBay.in.

Trendyjute's products, including seminar bags, folders, and the like are custom-made in production units at Chennai.

Explains Sudha, "We wanted to utilise our experience of corporate marketing to further our business. We discuss the specifics with clients, and negotiate fabric rates before placing an order with the production units. We involve the customer at every stage."

Expanding Frontiers
While the duo regularly conduct exhibitions to display their products, an online presence has given an incredible boost to their dealings. Says Sudha, "Apart from the exposure it gives our products, I like the payment model on eBay." (See box: The eBay Way)

As an online marketplace, eBay.in helps SMBs to have a self-sustaining business, and avoid overheads such as advertisement, showrooms and marketing. Also, eBay.in gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to diversify without additional hassles.

Diversification It Is
Diversification is the name of the game, more so, for enterprising businessmen. Meet Devesh Tanna of Mumbai. A commerce graduate, Tanna started out with a wholesale business of selling gifts and toys to retailers, sourced from factories in Noida. Referring to eBay.in, Tanna says, "The portal gave me one more avenue to display my products.

I liked the idea-a service that has no initial entry cost or listing price."
Soon computer peripherals caught his 'biz eye', and Tanna realised that there was a good market for these in India. He adds, "I source peripherals from distributors including Rashi, Neoteric, Mediatech and Savex."

"I cannot afford to invest in a website of my own-a business-to-consumer (B2C) portal would require a lot of marketing. Instead, I invested time and effort in surfing eBay.in and identifying items that were hugely in demand," says Tanna. He claims the business has been profitable till date.

Level Playing Field
Gautam Thakar, marketing director, eBay India, feels that the key advantage of eBay.in lies in the wide 'reach' it gives to sellers. Sellers can access almost 135 million users from sites in 32 countries.

Thakar says, "Globally, nearly 5 lakh people make all or part of their living on eBay. In India, only a few thousand sellers make most of their income on eBay.in."

He adds, "On eBay.in, one can sell anything-from coins to camcorders. Sellers need minimal or zero investment to start. eBay.in offers tools like 'Turbo Lister' (helps list items offline using eBay's templates) and 'Selling Manager' (a sales management tool  that tracks account activity) to assist sellers manage their business and transactions effectively, online."

Indeed, eBay.in levels the playing field. The seller-whether a big brand, SME, trader or an individual-is given the same set of tools, and charged the same amount to trade products and services online.

Retail Right
Praveen Dwarkanath and Amit Rakhecha own Nucleus Computers, a small firm in Bangalore. They employ aggressive sales tactics, such as,  hiring three member teams to monitor site activity, answer customers queries and co-ordinate sales.  "We began by selling a mere headphone. Today, we sell all computer peripherals online," says Dwarkanath.

The eBay Way 
Step 1. Find
Select the product of your choice from hundreds of product categories (and sub-categories), as well as 
global sites.

Step 2. Buy/Sell
Make a list of items you would like to buy. You can avail of the following services on registration-item details, feedback from the
sellers, and their contact information.
Similarly, to sell an item, host a picture of your product on the site along with a brief description of the product and your contact details. Also, eBay.in offers 'Advanced Selling Tips' for sellers, visit http://snipurl.com/dw54.
   
Step 3. Pay
To make international payments, the two parties can use mutually convenient electronic payment methods or international demand drafts. For transactions within India, buyers can use the PaisaPay service that facilitates credit card payments and online bank transfers.
In PaisaPay, buyers pay using a credit card or online bank transfer. The seller is credited for the payment once the bank has confirmed the transaction. A cheque/DD is sent by eBay.in to each seller. Sellers are charged a percentage of their transaction for payments made via Credit Card or online bank transfer.

"We manage to relieve dealers of stock lots in record time. In fact, we were the largest single sellers of Mercury digicams in South India, some months ago. Once, we   sourced a requirement of 72 pieces of a Palm DV camcorder in a few days. We have seen a 30 per cent increase in revenue, due to our online presence on eBay.in since 2001," adds Dwarkanath.

Boosting E-commerce
Using the web for retail is a trend that may signal the revival of e-commerce in India. The prime movers of the next generation of e-commerce models will be entrepreneurs, who are unafraid to depart from the conventional strategies of sales and marketing.

Of course, long-term sustainability will depend on the ability of such entrepreneurs to adapt to rapid market changes and technological advancements. For, to the smart e-enabled marketer, belong the spoils.



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