An effort to enhance the sales of a product or service can be a vital function of any organizational success. This exactly is the bottom line that gets perpetrated by this pro-active entrepreneur duo through their online venture. Just at the time when the prices of any conceivable commodity skyrocket in India, the timing of the Cashkaro’s foray with Cashback on every online booking… seems to test the waters. Swati Bhargava, the CEO and Co-Founder of Cashkaro with Pouring Pounds Ltd. as its parent company, with her husband Rohan Bhargava started CashKaro to give a new dimension to their entrepreneurial spirit.
This e-commerce venture has its presence in UK, Europe and USA. “We direct traffic to other sites by giving our members discounts, cashback and incentives for shopping through us. So rather than product focus per se, it’s a focus on directing sales to other websites,” shares Swati Bhargava who worked at Goldman Sachs in London before she ventured into entrepreneurship in 2011. “ We are in the cashback & coupon space, we give users cashback on every purchase at our 2,500 partner retailers like Marks & Spencer, Expedia, Virgin, Marriott. “
Swati with her husband Rohan who is experienced in hedgefund, shares the thought process behind the conceptualization of savings everyday on any purchase through Cashkaro that had partnered with 350+ retailers and surges ahead to add more retailer brands to their bandwagon. This initiative marketed on Facebook only in the last 6 months had attracted good traction so far. Apparently, the latest digital commerce report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India, IAMAI and IMRB International portrays a bright picture ahead, with expected rise of 33 percent to the tune of Rs. 62,967 crores by the end of 2013.
How does it work exactly? “Cashback is part of the commission we receive from our retailers. We partner with retailers and for each transaction we bring to them we are accorded a commission, a part of which is what we pass to our members as a cashback,” discloses Swati , an alumni of London School of Business. Given the huge growth of e-commerce in India, directing sales to partner websites was launched under brand name of Cashkaro which is now one of India’s leading Cashback & Coupon websites.”
Putting forward his thoughts on the act of enhanced sales of registered partners of Cashkaro, Amit Joseph, Regional Head, South India, Gi Staffing Services/Gi Group, Bangalore feels , “ In the online selling space it is the digital footfalls ( digital footprints, conversions) that matter, if Cashkaro can generate additional sales then one can look at sales being impacted positively by 5% to 15% depending on category, in the volume business environment that the major Indian e-commerce websites play in this could mean a huge net sales addition. “
On the process to leverage sales of any business through social media, Amuthan Angappan, Product Manager, Sumeru Softwars Solutions, Bangalore, explains, ” The idea of Cashkaro seems to be quite solid, but have to sustain the power to advance the initiative to the next level with the same commitment and success is bound to happen. Social Media is pretty happening these days and marketing should be focus of any online initiative. Now analytics need to be observed on how well the user is receiving and continuously change strategies. The level with which the aggressiveness is sustained on any effort is a sure shot to reap success. In the essence, success depends on how well it is marketed and again sustained marketing in FB and twitter is what these days the trend is…”
Elsewhere in Europe, a hotspot for global digital activity, dmexco, established as a global digital brand in digital era has ringed in another conference, precisely in Colgne, Germany. This city of zestful enthusiasm hosted a digital conference called, a Digital Marketing Exposition and Conference dmexco on 18 and 19, September, 2013 that had a keynote delivered by the Keith Weed, CEO of Unilever. “The most important challenge in the digital industry is our ability to keep pace with the rapid changes in consumer behaviour. This generation is aware of the power of its personal data, it values experiences over ownership, and it wants to engage with brands through interactions that mirror human relationships instead of business transactions,” emphasized Lisa Pearson, CMO of Bazaarvoice.
On marketing in a digital world and consumer experience, “The new age customer has a short attention span, this is reality, a multi faceted marketing strategy combining online and offline marketing methodologies would be required, while websites like Flipkart are at the forefront of SEO optimisation in terms of their digital marketing efforts they also have interesting and quirky TV ads. Timeliness, promptness, courtesy, quick resolution and above all transparent communication are the basic hygiene factors an online consumer would expect, ” felt Amit Joseph, Regional Head, South India, Gi Group when inquired about what marketing is like in a digital world?
Riding the ever elusive turf of constant changing dynamics in marketing and consumer behaviour with elan, Swati Bhargava observes, “Through our site, users can get cashback on every order at Myntra, Snapdeal, Yatra, Makemytrip at our 250+ partner sites in India. This is in addition to coupons which are available on coupon sites like Couponduniya. Therefore, Cashkaro gives users the maximum savings possible on all online purchases including mobile recharge.” This former investment banker is keen to tap into video marketing and mobile marketing strategy to reach remote consumer soon.
However, there is more room for innovation. Tune into the different opinion on the model of cashkaro and on marketing per se in the digital world and consumer experience from one of the leading voices in the industry? An analysis on the DNA of the initiative… “The quick perusal of the offering through their website, CashKaro seems to be an aggregator of all the online cashback offers and discount offers. CashKaro should look at what made RedBus or MakeMyTrip become success and replicate it. They need to develop a similar customer centricity and also the USP of their services.
Cashkaro business looks like the rewards and loyalty programs most of the retailers dole out. In my observations, this has not taken off well. Why? The customer never got EXCITED about it. Why? A customer gets mere Rs 52 after spending Rs 5,200 on one time bill. Therefore, what CashKaro can pay up might not be exciting at all. And Cash Back offers on credit cards too have not taken off well. As a User, I will save about Rs 15,000 in a year, if I have done 100 transactions and I get Rs 500 from each Cashkaro transaction. I will save about a little less, if the no. of transactions or the cashback per transaction or both go lesser.
So CashKaro has to be innovative in giving me a packaged deal, rather than just passing out the deals that are already available on other online retailers. Otherwise, I might jump ship easily. If you look at CashKaro as an extension of Pouring Ponds, the monetization through transactions is very small per transactions. They have to HIT BIG numbers from the word go, to break even. The other revenue stream is advertising. And with the recent experience of Web18 group, the monetization through advertisement looks an uphill task.
If I look at CashKaro, as an entrepreneur, yes, there are sitting on a huge opportunity. If they can get their execution, in terms of people, process and culture, right from the start and hit the monthly positive cash flows quickly, they could be yet another celebration for all of us in online entrepreneur space, “discloses RatanKK, an e-marketing consultant in India and founder, GutsGo e-marketing, Mumbai.
Apparently what is the transparency quotient in effect for e-commerce business? An interesting perspective from Tarun Abhichandani, Group Business Director, Business & Industrial Research Division (BIRD), IMRB International, “Various technological advancements provide quite a bit of confidence regarding security of the personal information of the users. However, it is not only the e-commerce publishers; it is also the responsibility of the financial institutions such as banks to ensure that the handshake between e-commerce providers and them is devoid of security breach. Regulatory authorities also have a role to play. As of now, the awareness of the security requirements among cyber users is lacking in India. The regulatory actions and policies are also not known by all the stakeholders. It is every stakeholders responsibility to make people aware of the security threats and e-commerce websites should publicise the relevant security features on their websites – which is absent as of now.”
Unlike the Western economies, where shoppers are more price inelastic, India has a very value conscious customer economy, where in there is also an inherent dynamism, as is reflected in ever increasing online sales and (online bargain hunting). With ever increasing broadband penetration and an increasing number of firms focus more upon tier-3 and 4 cities, the online sales are going to increase further. So, the demand drivers are surely favourable for a business like cashkaro. With ever increasing proliferation of e-commerce websites, surely there will be a scope for demand aggregators like cashkaro. However, at the same, the marketing plan surely needs to be unique different, wherein customer must see an additional benefit/value from an intermediary,” feels MNVVK. Chaitanya, Educator and Media Professional at Annapurna International School of Film and Media, AISFM, Hyderabad ( www.aisfm.edu.in ) .
Impact of social media on cashkaro vis-a-vis other business… “Considering e-commerce platforms are here to stay and social media is a reality, if cashkaro can successfully integrate the practicality of e-commerce and the viral nature of social media then it would create huge waves of interest. Utilising innovation for generating net savings for the end consumer is bound to grab eyeballs. In the online selling space if Cashkaro can generate additional sales then we are looking at sales being impacted positively by 5% to 15% depending on category, in the volume business environment that the major Indian e-commerce websites play in this could mean a huge net sales addition,” observes Amit Joseph, Gi Group.
To conclude, in the words of Steven D. Strauss, the author of ‘The Small Business Bible’, online businesses need to establish a meaningful connection with customers through social media. Where-in 80-20 rule should entail 80 percent of the content posted should address customer’s problems while 20 percent about the respective online venture, what is transacted through their initiative.