Emerging Trends in Channels & Marketing


Panelists – from Left to Right: Vikas Choudhary, COO & CFO, AIMIA; Duncan Grant, Multichannel Director, The Entertainer; Latif Nathani, MD, eBay; Manish Tiwary, Executive Director, HUL; Sundeep Malhotra, CEO, HomeShop 18

Opening Remarks by the Moderator

Some of the questions to explore today

02• Temples and mosques in India don’t run a loyalty program, but millions believe. How many retailers are able to make loyalty a religion?

• Is having cutting edge technology enough?

• How can channels create innovative ways to showcase the experience?

• How do retailers decide which channels to use. Or is it the customer deciding?

• What can we learn from other markets?

Moderator: Ajit Joshi, MD, Infiniti Retail Ltd (CROMA)

How do you use multiple channels to reach out to customers?

03• We started our flagship 24-hour retail channel about 7.5 years ago and our Internet business about 2.5 years ago.

Our mobile business started only six months ago – but, it already contributes 12% to sales.

• We noticed that people’s lives are spent between three screens – Televisions, Laptop and Mobile screens.

• So we decided to build a business that converges these three screens to provide a singular transaction point.

Convenience, quality and value drive our multi-channel approach to retail.

• We have to be careful in the channels we select – because TV shopping has to contend with the legacy of “sauna belts” and “Rudraksh” – so called, “magic” as sold on TV.

• Our innovation has been to focus on using technology within the basic TV shopping process – example – customers use the ‘red’ button to shop seamlessly including payment.

• Another example would be the Virtual T3 wall at Delhi Airport.

Innovative experiments don’t always have to create sales. They deliver value in terms of brand impact as well.

Sundeep Malhotra, CEO, HomeShop 18

What is the role of an online platform in boosting retail?

04• We have been present in India since 9 years. We have 5 million registered users – 2 million active ones. Have been a market place for 19 years.

• We reach out to 4306 towns in India.

• At any given time, we have 2 million live listings.

• The reason our customers deal with us: We don’t compete with our sellers

• We provide a level playing field for large and small retailers.

Whether its a CROMA or its the leather merchant in Dharavi – our proposition does not change.

Are retailers in UK scared that the market places will take over?

05• The entertainer does about USD 3 mio (Rs 19 cr) of business with Amazon.  We’ve launched in France and Germany without physical stores, through the marketplace tie up with Amazon.

• If you look back – traditional brick and mortar retailers initially saw Amazon as a price predator.

• Several of those who took the view, that “there is no money to be made online” have since gone bankrupt.

• We don’t consider online players to be a threat but a opportunity for us to reinforce our strengths.

• 18% sales have been generated from our online presence.

• Although we have competition from online retailers, we are growing at 10%. (Which by UK standards is FAST)

• Most retailers in the UK (with the exception of very sharply focused value retailers like Primark) have adopted online.

• For the “mass market retailers “who sell branded products – like us – we all accept that we will compete with; but cannot be the cheapest, the way Amazon can.

We need to ask “What can I do that others can’t?”

• That means innovating on our core value proposition – the in-store experience.

• “Click and Collect” – Launched this service 2 years ago – allows customers to order online and collect in-store.

• Last year, introduced a 30 mt delivery service – using live inventory feeds.

• These services account for 40% of total online sales; but they are growing 100% on a Y-O-Y basis – this is very significant.

How do you cope with Show-rooming?

• By accepting it as a fact of life.

• We do see instances where customers come in for product knowledge and then buy online.

• But this is the case with all retailers.

• There will be customers of the market places who come to us for the service experience.

• We cannot afford to be distracted by the phenomenon – and must continue to differentiate.

Duncan Grant, Multichannel Director, The Entertainer

Practices around Big Data and analytics which are unique?

06• We have 2.3 million FB users and we use these numbers to understand customer preferences.

• All senior people in HUL have to spend time online and in the call centre. We call it a “People Licence”.

• This is not a substitute for real-time interaction with our consumers.

• We are the largest digital advertisers in India. YouTube is an important channel to get our message across.

• We also have a “digital licence” from Google – making sure that senior people are trained to understand what makes online “tick”

• Work towards ring-fencing our investment in digital

• Use digital as a “Advance Release Medium”

• For example – we launched Tresemme online, exclusively, in advance of the store launch.

• Objective was to get customer feedback.

Will continue to invest in digital. Also purely social channels such as YouTube.

Manish Tiwary, Executive Director, HUL

How can customer footprint be effectively harnessed?

07• It’s how we create trust among customers and reciprocate that trust that results in loyalty.

• We have to create inspired shoppers.

• The ROI from using technology is far greater when customers feel cared for.

What’s big about big data?

• Allows personalization of the shopping experience as never before.

• Sainsbury’s Nectar program introduced – Real Time Coupons.  They spend USD 300 mio on a year – creating personalized offers for each visit of each shopper.

• For one of the segments of buyers – called “confident cooks” – the retailer analyzed their online search behavior on Yahoo.co.uk, extrapolated the same to SKU’s of Sainsbury’s’ and then created visit specific discounts.

Vikas Choudhary, COO & CFO, AIMIA

How can technology be used to protect consumer data?

“Trust and confidence plays a major role in the online retail space.”
Latif Nathani, MD, eBay

“Better data collection and warehousing in the need of the hour.”
Vikas Choudhary, COO & CFO, AIMIA

Future channels of choice

03Kiosk and mobile shopping.

Red button shopping on the TV Remote

Sundeep Malhotra, CEO, HomeShop 18


06Retailer loyalty cards.

Kiosks for repeat orders / monthly replenishment

Manish Tiwary, Executive Director, HUL


Final worlds

03Online and Offline are complementary.

Sundeep Malhotra, CEO, HomeShop 18



06Data is no substitute for customer connect.

Manish Tiwary, Executive Director, HUL



07Fight against data leakages on a “war” footing

Vikas Choudhary, COO & CFO, AIMIA



04Coupon / discounting strategies can backfire online.

Lathif Nathani, MD, eBay



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