E-commerce is the future of shopping, says eBay India chief

Bindu D. Menon New Delhi | Updated on September 18, 2013

Latif Nathani, Managing Director, eBay India.

Did you know that the most expensive item sold on eBay India, an online global marketplace, is a Rs 30-lakh Volkswagen Vento autographed by 10 Indian Premier League teams in 2011. The traction in the domestic e-commerce space has made eBay Inc. to look at India more closely.

In an interview to Business Line, Latif Nathani, Managing Director, eBay India – a 100 per cent subsidiary of eBay Inc – outlines the roadmap for growth, taking competition by horn and introducing customised solutions for the Indian market. Excerpts:

You entered India in 1995. Since then and now how has the e-commerce channel grown?

There has been a sweeping change in the way consumers buy. Consumers have accepted e-commerce and it is the future of shopping. We are an open online market place – which means we do only listings and not hold any inventory at all. Currently, we have over two million live listings. If we go by data, a mobile accessory is sold every 30 seconds and a television set sells every 32 minutes.

How has the seller base grown over the years?

We have approximately 30,000 sellers on eBay. We can’t share how it has grown but about five years ago we had about 12,000 sellers. Of these, about 100 are large retailers such as Croma, Globus and Gitanjali.

Has there been solution customised specifically for the Indian market?

Our constant endeavour is to maximise the shopping experience for our customers. We introduced a solution called Paisapay, a secure online payment gateway on eBay India. It lets buyers make payments online to eBay sellers in a secure and cost-effective manner. It is like an escrow phenomenon. The buyer can make instant payment online purchases but the money is released to the seller when the buyer confirms successful item receipt. Over 90 per cent of all eBay India transactions are paid for via Paisapay.

Logistics must be challenge for you as it is for other industry players?

Logistics and taxation structure is a huge bucket of problem. There 50 different legislations that increase the costs of the products and shipping. There is an urgent need to reform the goods movement in the country. Additionally, we have made representation to the Government to grant custom exemption to SME entrepreneurs. We have also tied-up with Federation of Indian Exports Organisation to help smaller players set up their e-shops.

Do sellers need to pay you for listing and also will you look at an inventory-led model like your competitor Amazon?

The first 100 listings are free. But, our revenue comes when a seller makes a sale and we get a commission on the same. We are an open marketplace and will continue to be one in near term. At least 95 per cent of our transactions are through an online gateway – credit or debit.

Do you have an R&D centres in India like Groupon or Amazon?

We have two R&D centre in India. Like I said before, the top management has keen sight on India. Our recently opened R&D centre in Bangalore employs 300 people while the Chennai facility has 2,000.

Published on September 18, 2013

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