Valentine date on a deal!

Valentine date on a deal!

On February 14th 2011, Snapdeal.com, one of India’s leading discount deals portals, had a very tempting offer. For those of you who carefully noted the date, yes – it was a ‘deal’ to buy a date with actress and former Miss India, Gul Panag. There could be only one winner and he could go on a sailing date with Panag. The actress, of course, participated in the campaign to raise funds for The Col. Shamsher Singh Foundation, a non-profit organisation. For Snapdeal.com, it was all about driving traffic into its site.

It is ideas like these that have propelled Snapdeal to the top tier of Indian e-commerce firms. According to a recent survey by Dataquest magazine, Snapdeal is the number one e-commerce retailer in the country. Its Alexa (a reputed web information company that specializes in traffic metrics) rank is 362 (Groupon’s Alexa rank is 262), which basically means, there are only 361 sites globally that have a greater three-month traffic rank than Snapdeal.  For a company that was founded in February 2010, this is undoubtedly commendable. There is certainly a lesson or two to be learnt on driving traffic from the growth of Snapdeal.

But driving traffic to your site is only a part of the process.  Monetising this traffic is the more important part. Our cover story this edition, anchored by our consulting editor, Poornima Kavlekar, takes us in depth into the world of selling discounts online. Like most of our stories, it analyses all the variables involved in making this business work. For the story, Poornima interviewed the founders of several group-buying ventures, venture capital investors in the space and experts in brick and mortar and online retail. The outcome is a wonderful mix of the opportunities in this sector, the challenges that have to be overcome and most importantly, a realistic layout of the group-buying ecosystem in the country.

I’d like to leave you with a very interesting insight on strategic thinking at early-stage ventures. I picked this up while attending a course on Venture Capital Development at the Indian School of Business. Dr. John Mullins, a professor specialising in entrepreneurship at London Business School, taught us: “If the founders of Google, PayPal or Starbucks had stuck to their original business plans, we’d likely never have heard of them.” He went on to talk about how several successful businesses start off with Plan A, and then based on careful analysis, move on to Plan B, Plan C or even Plan G. Mullins’ book titled ‘Getting to a better Plan B: Breaking through to a better business model’ is a must-read for early-stage entrepreneurs. I can assure you, the book will transform the way you strategise and execute in your business.

In the group buying space too, we’re sure to witness a lot of ‘churning’ of business models as we go forward. After all, this sector is less than three years old, and it is only the beginning of a whole new way of selling online. I am sure these businesses will conceptualise even better business models, better Plan Bs and Cs and a few years from now, we will have a whole new way of buying online.

Hope you have fun reading this edition of The Smart CEO.  And please join our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheSmartCEO.