IndiaMART: Small business means big business

Business Standard

The spread of smartphones has not just improved the consumer buying experience online but has considerably changed the way sellers or merchants go about their businesses. With 41 per cent of the overall e-commerce transactions in the country being conducted via mobile phones, the medium offers immense potential for small and medium businesses. According to a recent global research, businesses spend 52 per cent of their time in identifying the right business partners. “The mobile phone can change the way SMEs conduct their businesses by connecting buyers and sellers real time, leading to huge potential savings,” says Sumit Bedi, vice-president, marketing, IndiaMART, an online B2B marketplace connecting buyers and sellers.

The company focussed earlier on the concerns of sellers; through a new television campaign it is looking to reposition IndiaMART as the one-stop-shop for buyers. So the second leg of the Kaam Yahin Banta Hai campaign shows brand ambassador Irrfan Khan rattling off the unique requirements of buyers that are gratified on IndiaMART. The television commercial underscores how IndiMART has an answers to every buyer’s sourcing needs, covering categories such as furnishing, handicrafts, jewellery, fashion accessories, sports goods and so on. “The campaign highlights how the IndiaMART mobile platform (mobile site and app) is conveniently designed for the buyers, who can easily check seller listings and contact sellers anytime and from anywhere,” says Bedi.

“E-commerce is a cluttered marketplace with many players eyeing the same set of consumers. So we didn’t want to be seen as a B2C portal – a marketplace for regular consumers. Our clients are small businesses and in that space you really have to portray yourself as a serious player. The association with Irrfan khan helped us portray that image of a very credible platform, with his no-nonsense approach to whatever he engages in,” says Bedi.

IndiaMart was founded in 1996 and catered mostly to overseas markets. As the internet connectivity in India improved, the company shifted focus in 2006 from being a an export-import servicing platform to a platform connecting buyers and sellers. Now a majority of its buyers are local firms. It launched its first campaign last year to create awareness and differentiate itself from other B2C marketplaces operating in the space. “We have grown mostly through word of mouth and organic search. However, given the deluge of marketplace players in the e-commerce space, we decided to go for a brand awareness campaign. So in 2014 we launched the first leg of the Kaam Yahin Banta Hai campaign with actor Irrfan Khan,” explains Bedi.

“In the clutter of e-commerce advertising, the challenge put to us was to differentiate IndiaMART as a business destination – a one-stop sourcing and selling exchange. We had to take care to not alienate the casual shopper. That’s why we came up with the line Kaam Yahin Banta Hai, a tagline that conveys no-nonsense dhandha to the business owner, and also conveys the ease of finding the things a casual shopper may want. For phase 2 of the campaign, we drove the frequency with short films that captured the range of products available on the site,” says Prateek Bhardwaj, ECD, McCann.

“Irrfan gave us instant cut through and while the scripts were celeb-neutral, he helped ensure audience engagement through the story,” says Bhardwaj.

So while the first campaign was about brand awareness, the second leg of the campaign is about giving a push to the mobile platform. “Going forward the idea is to move from an entirely functional proposition to a more emotional and larger than life kind of communication,” says Bedi. The company recently appointed Bang in the Middle as its new creative agency. The association with Irrfan Khan will continue.

Post the second campaign, the company recorded more than two million downloads of its app. Now, around 55 per cent of its traffic come from the mobile platform, 90 per cent of the sellers actively use it, says the company. “This has improved buyer satisfaction because earlier sellers ad buyers couldn’t connect instantly,” Bedi adds.

At present, 80 per cent of IndiaMART’s business comes from small and medium sized businesses. “We are also seeing individual consumer interest and now 15 per cent of our business comes from such consumers. The new focus area would be big corporates,” says Bedia. The campaign targets the top ten cities from where IndiaMART gets bulk of its business. The total budget of the campaign is pegged at Rs 10-15 crore (that includes endorser fees).

Digital has been an integral part of all IndiaMART campaigns. While the primary medium is television, the second campaign also uses on mobile display advertising. It also leverages social sites YouTube and Facebook.