A Disruptive talk by Ravi Gururaj on eCommerce Opportunities in India

Ravi Gururaj is the VP Products at Citrix and is the co-founder at Harvard Business School Alumni Angels India

eSparks 2013One of the clear highlights of eSparks 2013 was the session by Ravi Gururaj. What can you expect from a session on ‘Brainstorm eCommerce Ideas to Disrupt, Differentiate and Delight Your Way to Success!’? was embodied in Ravi’s enthralling talk spanning 45 minutes. Known for his expertise in the tech domain and now an active angel investor, Ravi took everyone on a learning ride filled with laughter, insights and points to mull over. Little did we know that Ravi had set up his eCommerce venture in early 2000 in US, the way we know eCommerce today in India had not taken shape.

From the euphoria of 2011, now we all know that eCommerce is now in a tight spot. With very little funding happening in the space, the question everyone is asking is about profitability, land grab and the difficulties in Indian market to be able to build and scale an eCommerce venture (please note the difficulties mentioned here refer to infrastructure and ancillary support, payments, regulations etc). In this scenario how can entrepreneurs build a successful venture? According to Ravi there are still ways to work around constraints and opportunities are plenty, “it’s just that we need to see things differently and go after the untapped opportunities,” he said.

The first pertinent point that Ravi spoke about was the market an eCommerce venture wants to play in. “Do you want to be in the volume business with low margins or operate in niche (a term that is extremely layered) with lesser volume but very high margins?” he asked the packed hall.

Next Ravi highlighted a key element that is missing in the current eCommerce market which is still abound with opportunity. A big opportunity lies in taking the “customer experience” to a different level all together – while big eCommerce sites show you hundreds of things to buy, does anyone tell you what exactly you should buy? Currently, there are myriad places to purchase from but no one tells what an individual consumer should buy? So, Ravi says, “start curating content on top of eCom sites and there lies your golden opportunity.” Another way to take customer experience one level higher would be the “same day delivery model”, so if you need a birthday gift, order online and get it instantly – that’s instant customer satisfaction.

Ravi also mentioned “private labels” as a big opportunity. So can you create a limited edition site that sells, say a single t-shirt having a particular design/print/ message or a handbag that is exclusively embroidered with fine quality silk thread cultivated in an eco-silk farm – this takes exclusivity a notch higher. He also listed Location Based Services, renting (maybe a diamond for a day) mWallet, FCommerce and ad retargeting as areas where one can find opportunities to disrupt and create businesses. Building capabilities to ship abroad was another great insight, “build models that can help you grab a global market,” said Ravi.

Also talking about investments, Ravi emphasized that upcoming entrepreneurs in this space would do well to bootstrap and show scale to attract investments. Ravi said, that the companies which will be built now and can last three years have higher probability of success. “We’re out of the funding rush of 2011 and companies that are built to stay with a three year vision will last. The real game (and fun) will begin soon with respect to eCommerce in India. Just hang around! We’re almost there!” said Ravi.

While all the above points are worth deliberating over, one thing that all entrepreneurs should remember from Ravi’s session was – “Delight and you will create demand”.

So let’s keep delighting!

Check out all the 12 companies that presented at eSparks 2013.

We at YourStory.in thank E-Sparks Title Sponsor, Microsoft, Financial Technology Partner, Intuit, Associate Sponsors, ReferralCandy and Aramex and Exhibitor, Moolya for enabling us with their support!