Ponnappa, Head – Growth Categories, Shipping & Marketing, eBay, tells us how the company re-established the business, its latest campaign targeting Indian sellers and more
eBay has restructured its India business to focus on cross-border e-commerce and Pavan Ponnappa, Head – Growth Categories, Shipping & Marketing, eBay tells us how the company re-established the business, its latest campaign targeting Indian sellers and why India cross-border e-commerce has the potential to grow faster than the global business.
US e-commerce giant eBay exited India in May 2018, when it sold its minority stake in Flipkart after the home-grown firm was acquired by Walmart. On May 9, 2018, the then CEO of eBay, Devin Wenig tweeted, “We will be back in the India market soon with eBay.in. We will start by bringing import inventory into India and opening up the world’s markets to Indian merchants.” And sure enough by January 2019, ebay – which first launched in India in 2004 – was back in the country. It now operates in the cross-border space. The brand also recently launched its #LocalToGlobal campaign to showcase the cross-border e-commerce opportunity to home-grown businesses to encourage them to start selling globally.
Pavan Ponnappa, Head – Growth Categories, Shipping & Marketing, eBay, says, “eBay has traditionally been very strong as a marketplace. Globally, cross-border e-commerce has been growing faster than domestic e-commerce, in the range of 25% year-on-year. The Indian e-commerce market is an exception as the domestic market is still evolving. A far more evolved logistic network and payment solution has helped the focus shift to cross-border trade.” He continues, “A seller in India can now sell their products in markets where eBay is strong such as USA, UK, Germany, FIS (France, Italy, Spain) region. This is a huge opportunity for sellers as they have to primarily focus on managing the inventory effectively and pricing it right.”
Going Beyond Indian Shores
For Indian sellers, USA is a big market and UK, Germany, Australia are the three big markets, outside USA, where sellers are seeing traction. eBay has also been working closely with its sellers to expand into non-English speaking markets. In terms of products, traditional categories such as jewellery, fashion, clothing, home linen & bedding, furniture, natural remedies are categories where sellers have seen growth. Adds Ponnappa, “What’s unique about eBay is that we have buyers for categories that we traditionally don’t see a lot in e-commerce. For example in jewellery, we have everything from fashion jewellery to high-end diamond and fine jewellery. Art & collectibles is another strong category on eBay. A large line of business within eBay is auto ancillaries and auto parts. Indian sellers & manufacturers are plugging into this opportunity and it presents a huge market for them to sell aftermarket spares and original OEM spares.” eBay has also expanded its coverage into other newer categories, such as business & industrial products, medical equipment, sporting goods to ensure a wider base of sellers.
Capitalizing on the global opportunity
eBay is making sure that sellers are aware of and understand the opportunity and how it translates for their business. A key factor in cross-border trade is ensuring that sellers ship their products with all the necessary documentation in place to export products. On its part, over the last two to three years, eBay has worked on setting up the required infrastructure to ensure just that. The company’s shipping platform, eBay Global Shipping, a single window shipment solution supported by aggregated logistic service providers. This is a shipment facilitation service designed for benefit of Indian CBT (Cross Border Traders) Sellers to export their products. The company also has a large team deployed across the country to on-board sellers and help them with the necessary documentation. “From an eBay point of view, we try to enable all these different elements which will enable success. We work with them and help them understand where the opportunity lies. The primary onus for the seller is making sure they have the right product and selection, price it right and also cater to the specific nuances of each market. We are trying to ensure that sellers are able to use all this information that we provide to build a catalogue and start selling on the platform,” says Ponnappa.
Currently eBay has around 10,000 active Indian sellers on its platform and is looking to grow this number. As part of this initiative, eBay recently launched its #LocalToGLobal campaign. Inspired by the Prime Minister’s appeal to Indians to be self-reliant. The #LocalToGlobal campaign is part of a larger narrative planned by the brand to showcase the cross-border e-commerce opportunity to homegrown businesses and Indian MSMEs and encouraging them to start selling globally. The company’s intent is very clear – expand to new categories and bring quality supply from Indian players – manufacturers, retailers and distributors – onto the platform. Explains Ponnappa, “The primary objective is to try and reach out to sellers who traditionally probably haven’t looked at e-commerce and cross border e-commerce, show them the opportunity and tell them that it’s not as difficult as they think. It’s important to build that understanding and awareness among the various seller communities across various industries. We also want to work with industry bodies and government agencies looking at e-commerce exports.” The campaign is currently on social media and digital. eBay may also look at Outdoor campaigns towards the end of the year.
The #LocalToGlobal campaign is a precursor to the future marketing plans. eBay has Clevertize on board as marketing service provider and the agency is currently working on a larger campaign, in terms of scale and a longer duration, which is expected to be launched in the next few weeks. Ponnappa says, “You will see more campaigns from us over the course of the next few weeks and months, specifically reaching out many more sellers, getting them to on-board and start selling on the platform. It’s focused on building a strong connect with sellers so than when a seller thinks of e-commerce exports, eBay should be the preferred platform of choice. We are also highlighting the USPs of eBay as a marketplace, the different types of buyers on the platform and that sellers have control of their business, profitability and success”
Looking ahead, Ponnappa says that a lot of headroom remains to be exploited for Indian sellers. He says, “The global cross-border trade business is growing by approximately 25% year-on-year, we definitely look to grow faster than that because of the headroom in India.”