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Date : 10th April 2015 -ASSOCHAM National Conclave on e-Commerce

Inaugural Session

This session consisted of 8 panel members. While some members were required to speak individually, overall the group had a discussion flow together where all members got chance to speak and contributed to a fruitful session. The panel members were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

Session Role

1

Ms.Nirmala Sitharaman

State Minister of Commerce & Industry

Union Ministry

Chief Guest

2

Mr.D. S. Rawat

Secretary General

ASSOCHAM

Opening Remarks

3

Mr. Bikky Khosla

Chairman

ASSOCHAM, National Council on e- Commerce

Welcome Address

CEO

Tradeindia.com

4

Mr. Hemant Joshi

Partner

Deloitte India

Theme Address

5

Mr. Khalid Isar

Country General Manager

Alibaba.com

Industry Address

6

Mr.Latif Nathani

Managing Director

e-Bay

Industry Address

7

Mr.George N. Sibley

Counsellor, Economic Affairs,

Science and Technology and Environment,

Embassy of the United States of America

Keynote Address

8

Mr. R Gandhi

Deputy Governor

Reserve Bank of India

Guest of Honour

The speaker who opened the session proper gave a very good insight about the way today’s youngsters have a different perspective compared to the earlier generations. He coined a term naming today’s youth as the –“BC Generation”. By BC he meant- Bio Clock. This generation does not have the time to wallow in and wait for the right moment. Instead it wants to pack in as much as possible within a short span of time and thus heavily influenced by the biological clock. The speaker gave the example of a young girl aged around 24 whom he met few days back and who was supposed to visit Goa on holiday for 5 days. Each of the supposed 15 meals over those 5 days have already been planned using Zomato and several other such apps. In response to the speaker’s question as to why such extensive pre-planning she apparently replied- ‘life is short’. This anecdotal incident actually reveals the great hurry that people are in these days and how several apps have created a need where there was none to pack in as much as possible.

Alibaba.com’s recent listing on the stock market in the USA has been seen as a success for the industry back home. The panel celebrated this event as a sign of things to come for the Indian e-commerce industry as reputation can only improve due to this.

Mr. Sibley, Counsellor from the US Embassy was among the major speakers of the event. He explained how the USA had reached a certain stage in its digital growth and India was fast catching up. Due to India’s vast population and especially the youth population, the country presents a unique and massive opportunity for e-commerce players to actively perform.

Another speaker mentioned how initially only books were purchased online as the trust factor was very high. The idea was that a book will be exactly the same on purchase as it will be when seen in an online store. Slowly other products started getting purchased online. Now the largest segment of online purchase is travel tickets. Literally everyone has had a brush with the IRCTC website. Apparel and footwear even today fall below in the online purchase stakes primarily because customers see a mismatch in the product sizes mentioned between various firms. The panel feels that the day customers in India start purchasing vegetables, meat and groceries online will be the day when the e-commerce revolution will finally have hit its peak.

The session ended with an acknowledgement of the unique market that India is. The panel felt that the chances of a Wal Mart succeeding in India depend on various factors. In India land was at a premium. There was no land available in a big city like Delhi or Mumbai to build a complex large enough which a Wal Mart will require. Thus such a complex would probably have to be built in a place on the outskirts of Gurgaon. Also in India weekends are more often than not for a single day rather than 2 days as in common across the western world. In such a case it becomes virtually impossible for a family to drive such a long distance on a single day’s weekly off to purchase daily essentials. Thus traditional shops do not really get affected. But this is where the online model can make a dent. E-Commerce can make up for the gaps between supplied and consumer in a way that large retail giants may not be able to in this country.

At the end of the session, the ASSOCHAM Knowledge Report on e-commerce for this financial year was released by the chief guest and the other panel members. The panel members and the delegates then broke for a session of High Tea.

Plenary Session: Legal, Regulatory & Policy Framework

This session consisted of 8 panel members. The panel members were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

Session Role

1

Mr. Prakash Kumar

CEO

Goods & Services Tax Network

Keynote Address

2

Mr.R. K. Goyal

Joint Secretary

Department of Electronic & IT, GoI

Special Address

3

Mr.Vijay Chhibber

Secretary

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, GoI

Chief Guest

4

Mr.Shailendra Singh

Joint Secretary

Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, GoI

Special Address

5

Mr.Avimukt Dar

Partner

IndusLaw

Key Speaker

6

Mr.Devendra Patil

Senior Director

DHL Express India

Key Speaker

7

Mr.Srivals Kumar

General Consul

Flipkart

Key Speaker

8

Mr.Arvind Singhatiya

Vice President- Corporate Affairs

Ola Cabs

Key Speaker

This being a plenary session was open for all to speak. This was an intensely technical discussion centred around legal aspects of this unique business. One of the major themes touched upon in this discussion is the Goods & Services Tax (GST) and how it is going to impact e-commerce. GST being a single tax across product categories followed throughout the country is going to help ease a lot of regulations presently tied up this industry. This will further proliferate buying and selling of goods online. However there may some major drawbacks of this ever increasing business model.

One of the speakers lamented that perhaps India will move away from being a nation full of people caught up in traffic jams to being a nation of delivery boys (& girls) on bikes (& scooters). With ease of doing business people will simply order and expect the product to reach them in an instant. India is also unique in the sense that this is the only major economy where the model of ‘cash on delivery’ for goods supplied is followed at such a large level. This creates massive complications- legal and for tax purposed- difficult for those outside the trade to fathom. With cash on delivery, a lot of goods are not accepted by the end user and returned as it is. Thus the cargo then needs to be taken back to the original point. Complications further rise when the customer is based in a small town or even rural area and not in any of the big cities or trade hubs. The cargo needs to be carried back but legal papers change and so do stamp policies.

Mr. Avimukt Dar spoke separately to the audience. He is a legal expert with an expertise built specifically for e-commerce laws.

E- Commerce: Contribution to India’s Growth

This session consisted of 9 panel members. The panel members were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

Session Role

1

Mr. Santosh Singh Sarangi

Joint Secretary

Ministry of Commerce & Industry

Guest of Honour

2

Mr.Harish Bijoor

Joint Secretary

Harish Bijoor Consults

Keynote Address

3

Mr.Milan Sheth

Partner

Ernst & Young

Session Moderator

4

Mr.Peyush Bansal

CEO

Lenskart.com

Key Speaker

5

Mr.Sharat Dhall

COO

Yatra.com

Key Speaker

6

Mr.Amarjit Singh Batra

CEO

OLX.com

Key Speaker

7

Ms.Radhika Ghai Aggarwal

Co- Founder & Corporate Vice President

Shopclues.com

Key Speaker

8

Mr.Adhil Shetty

Founder & CEO

Bank Bazaar

Key Speaker

9

Mr. Manu Jain

Country Head

Xiaomi

Key Speaker

Mr. Bansal from Lenskart was one of the speakers who initiated the discussion. He said that at Lenskart the vision is always that the potential customer visiting the website must get the touch & feel factor he / she is expected to get at a physical store. Thus the frames are displayed from different angles and can be zoomed to get clearer picture. Mr. Jain from Xiaomi lamented the fact that in China the e-commerce industry was much better organized and thus reaping higher margins over the years. The Indian market by comparison in many ways reflects the physical marketplace- disorganized and fragmented. But Xiaomi in particular is aligning operations in such a way to suit the Indian market needs. Mr. Dhall from Yatra.com gave a very good insight. He said that initially when Yatra was launched, people only purchased flight tickets. Now things have changed to a great extent and people are actually availing entire tour packages online without any physical verification. This proves a tremendous increase in the trust factor that consumers have towards internet based transactions.

This session was followed by the networking lunch where all delegates and panel members mixed together to exchange pleasantries and discuss business associations between their respective organizations.

E- Commerce: Building the Ecosystem

This session consisted of 7 panel members. The panel members were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

Session Role

1

Mr. Vineet Pandey

Marketing Director

Department of Posts, Ministry of Communications & IT, GoI

Guest of Honour

2

Mr. Deepak Singhal

Regional Director

Reserve Bank of India

Keynote Address

3

Mr. Govind Rajan

CEO

Airtel Money

Key Speaker

4

Mr. Gaurav Voral

Director

Dynaflex

Key Speaker

5

Mr. Yashpal Hooda

COO

Safeexpress

Key Speaker

6

Mr.Suresh Bansal

Director

DTDC

Key Speaker

7

Mr. Prashant Tandon

Co- Founder & MD

Healthkart.com

Key Speaker

Mr. Bansal from DTDC, one of the leading courier agencies of this country began this discussion with some very important observations. He says that the courier network in India was never developed keeping in mind such massive operations as e- commerce today requires. They were set up primarily to supply small items and cash via money order of relatively insubstantial sums. The entire infrastructure that was created and is largely still intact works with a B to B orientation. In a B to B business model the final consumer (for the courier firm) is educated in the dealings of this industry and knows about the challenges and legal regulations. On the other hand with e-commerce, today’s customer who is in the B to C segment does not care for those challenges but instead wants a certain product delivered as soon as possible at the lowest price possible.

In addition, the cash on delivery model, creates massive complications. The courier agency is in the supply chain industry, not technically a part of cash management or formal banking. However due to the CoD model, vast amounts of cash need to be handled on a regular basis. While the agency faces certain challenges, those challenges increase exponentially when one considers that the cash at the ground level is being handled by the courier delivery boys whose monthly salaries are usually way below the amount of cash handled per day. Ethical dilemmas then arise. In order to ensure the cash management goes more smoothly, DTDC has started a separate firm within the group called- Soft Dot- which has been established with the sole purpose of enabling the smoother functioning of the e-commerce business.

Mr. Pandey from the Department of Posts explained how his department has lived through one revolution after another. For more than 20 years, he has been hearing statements like ‘no one writes letters these days’ & ‘postal department is unnecessary’. But in spite of so much new technology coming up, the department of posts keeps getting stronger with volumes increasing forever. Revenue has not always been so high due to the relatively smaller amounts of transactions which typically involve this department. However, this trend too is reversing as not the cash deliveries and transactions have increased several times in quantities. From the simple Money Order to bulk purchases and routing of cash for the CoD model of e-commerce, this department is facing up to the challenges of the new age digital economy.

The speaker from Dynaflex was also pointed in his reference to how the industry has evolved. His firm is into specialized packaging solutions. Such a business model he feels, did not exist prior to the evolution of the e-commerce business to its present avatar. But now opportunities are multifold and there are similar firms competing for the same.

Valedictory Session: Emerging Models in E- Commerce

This session consisted of 7 panel members. The panel members were as follows:

S. No.

Name

Designation

Organization

Session Role

1

Mr. Sunil Arora

Secretary

Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship

Chief Guest

2

Ms. Aruna Sundarajan

Administrator

Department of Telecom, GoI

Keynote Address

3

Mr.Alok Bansal

Co- Founder & CFO

PolicyBazaar.com

Key Speaker

4

Mr.Deep Kalra

CEO

Makemytrip.com

Key Speaker

5

Mr. Nikhil Ganju

Country Manager

TripAdvisor India

Key Speaker

6

Mr.Vikram Gupta

Founder & Managing Partner

IvyCap Ventures Advisors Private Limited

Key Speaker

7

Mr.Neeraj Roy

MD & CEO

Hungama.com

Key Speaker

8

Mr.Vijay Singh

MD & CEO

Aaramshop.com

Key Speaker

This session served as the valedictory. ASSOCHAM were congratulated for bringing together such an august gathering both on the dais as well as the delegates to attend the event.

The representative from Trip Advisor mentioned how the firm had humble beginnings in India but now is seen as a point of authority for all travel related information which customers seek. Similarly the representative of Make My Trip spoke about how the firm has evolved from meagerly flight tickets’ bookings to entire travel packages, though admittedly the volume of the package deals is still relatively low. The CFO of Policy Bazaar meanwhile insisted that his firm is seen as another point of reference to compare personal and financial policies of all kinds. Its popular advertising and growing presence on social media bears testimony to this fact.

This session was followed by the concluding High Tea. Networking between the panelists and delegates continued with greater fervor now as there was no time limit for any other session to begin. Thus an extremely fruitful day came to a close with knowledge exchanged and networking within team.

The business & market research department is increasingly perceived as being not just responsible for the organization of research, but also for sharing and distributing knowledge and expertise in a credible and convincing way.

The business & market research department is increasingly perceived as being not just responsible for the organization of research, but also for sharing and distributing knowledge and expertise in a credible and convincing way.
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