On 29th July ’14, Mr. Rohan Patniak, Head – Inventory, Operations and Sales (IOS), Redbus, arrived in TAPMI to introduce the students to the travelling e-commerce industry.
Mr. Patnaik began the session with a brief introduction of the e-commerce industry and why it is on a boom in the recent years. A few reasons can be increase in the number of internet users, number of devices compatible with internet facilities, acceptability of online payments and proliferation of internet. Moving on to the types of e-commerce transactions, he explained that the Indian e-commerce industry that began with simple classifieds like eBay and Naukri, today is dominated by players like IRCTC – 5 lakh transactions per day, followed by Redbus (50 to 60,000), MakeMyTrip (30 to 40,000) and so on in the travel segment.
He pointed out the fact that the online travelling business is very different from the other e-commerce segments as there are no look-and-feel challenges; customers specifically know what they want. Consumer experience is the key. Moving on, he talked about enablers of e-commerce namely device, payments, internet and demographic factors and how enablers evolved from 0 broadband connections just a few years back to 100-150 million today. However, India’s internet penetration is very less than that of China’s. But there is a scope of 5 fold growth in the next 5 years in the number of internet users in India.
Further in the session, he explained how consumers have moved from non-stickiness to stickiness i.e. consumers want a proper place to take out their cars and make payments as against cyber cafes. Today, credit cards have taken over the payments world except for mobile payments and online recharges. Other enablers cropped up recently are cash-on-delivery and net banking which saw an increase in its number of users from 1% in 2007 to 7% in 2011.
He concluded the session talking about challenges in the e-commerce travelling sector in India, grievance redressal mechanism, inventory holding challenges, taxation, permits, how easy is it to replicate such a business model and attract investors, rapid evolution in the business model, and shortage of trained man power, higher attrition and customer loyalty issues coupled with high acquisition costs.
The session attracted a lot of applause from the student community as Redbus is an established player in a fairly new industry and it has coped up with the challenges in the industry quite interestingly. As we presented Mr. Patnaik a small token of appreciation for coming down to TAPMI and interacting with the students, we hope that he would be coming back for such sessions in future also.