E-commerce marketplace eBay, which entered India in 2004, sells 16 products a minute. eBay India's managing director Latif Nathani, who took over last year, tells Vaishnavi Bala about the company's journey over the last nine years and how it has focused on long-term growth. Excerpts:
How have things changed for eBay since it entered India nine years ago?
We entered by acquiring bazee.com at a time when there was little awareness about the e-commerce market. We entered through the inorganic route, and later grew organically. Even now, we have a mix of organic and inorganic strategies for growth in India. eBay recognises the importance of India as a market. We have penetrated 4,000 towns and cities, and have about 45,000 sellers.
Despite being in India for nine years, eBay’s growth has been slower than that of its competitors. What would you attribute this to?
We sell 16 products a minute, something that has seen considerable growth. We are focused on healthy, long-term growth. The focus has not been on short-term buzz, but on consistency. If you look at some of the other players that have recently entered the market, the buzz is bigger. But we have been consistent in terms of our presence, services and innovation. We are happy with our growth.
Do you think the fastest way for eBay India to grow at this stage is the inorganic route?
We are focusing on both the routes.
Are you open to acquiring smaller companies in india?
You never know... we are always looking. We can't speculate right now, but we are very serious about India.
Many online retailers have adopted the marketplace model. How do you look at this increased competition?
Yes, there are retailers who are now getting into the marketplace model. It’s good for us since it validates the model that we followed for 19 years globally. It means we have been on the right path. With more players coming into the space, competition is increasing, and it is good. Competition increases the market, and raises awareness, which bodes well for us.
You have also been talking to the government about granting exporter status to the sellers on your platform.
Yes, there is a huge opportunity for Indian sellers to be able to sell across the globe on the eBay platform. About 15,000 sellers are able to sell abroad through us. On an average, a seller is selling to 31 countries worldwide. And the sellers are people from