Exclusive Feature: India And The World Of Online Classified; 10 Questions Answered By Pranay Chulet, CEO, Quikr.com

Couple of years ago, we had reported that Pranay Chulet was to be appointed the New CEO of Quikr.com.  That was in the year 2009 and zoom forward 2012, Quikr.com and Pranay have witnessed a phase of transition together.  We caught up with him to get some answers. Especially on the topic which is intriguing many: Has online classified ads finally made a mark in India?

1. Has the trend of online classified ads finally picked up in India? Or are people still hesitant?

PC: Yes, the popularity of digital classifieds has picked up further and the sector continues to grow very fast. Quikr has over 23Mn people using it every month and we’re growing as we speak. With the total internet users in India pegged at 100mm or so today, online classifieds is not just one of the largest segments in the wider ecommerce space but also one of the fastest growing ones. 

2. According to you, what are the major transformations Quikr has gone through since its Kijiji.in phase?
Some of the key factors behind the rapid growth and adoption of Quikr over the years has been the simplicity, the ease of use of our product and the success consumers see when they sell, buy, rent or find anything on our platform. We have worked hard to retain these attributes. Our transition to a web + mobile platform has been a very important step in our journey too.

3. How large is your current user base?
PC: Quikr is the market leader in the horizontal classifieds space. We get over 23 million monthly users across 65 cities in India.

4. How do you attract a user-base who is still hesitant to try and online mode over traditional print medium?
PC: As the market leader, we are always looking at ways to grow the market. We are constantly looking at innovative ideas of generating trial and usage amongst those users who are not yet familiar with the digital medium. Some of these can be seen in our efforts to keep our platform so simple that anyone using the internet for the first time can use it and some more of these are illustrated by our decision to become a mobile and internet Classifieds Company and grow beyond being an online only player. Our TV and print campaigns were also focused on reaching out to this segment of users and communicating to them how simple it is to sell and buy anything on a platform like Quikr. We are also effectively using media like voice and SMS to increase usage. While print remains a strong medium for users for news and topical events, it is fast losing its attraction as far as classifieds is concerned. People who use online classifieds today on Quikr are many times bigger than print classifieds users of the top newspapers collectively.

5. The market for online classified is still very niche. Do you see a change in the trend in the future?
PC: I am not so sure we can call online classifieds a niche market. Like I said above, it is already of a very large size and will continue to grow very fast. That’s because it is a well suited platform for a market like India. It attracts those who are ecommerce savvy, but also appeals to those who may not even own credit cards – and in our case, those who may not even know how to use a computer! We are in the fortunate position of being the largest player in this large market.

6. Do you consider any other website a competition?
PC: Yes, we do have some competition and it’s only a reflection of the attractiveness of this space. Having said that, it’s important to note most of our growth has been achieved through organic factors which cannot be said about some of the other smaller players. 

7. How do you stay up-to-date to a consumers need? Or do you follow a fixed ideology?
PC: We are a consumer business that is enabled by the internet and accessed through various devices. So we need to constantly keep in touch and update ourselves on what consumers are looking for and how we can address their needs in simpler and faster ways. Category and search insights give us an idea of both the supply as well as demand side of our business and help us identify gaps that we can address.

What plays a bigger role in your marketing and advertising efforts; Combination of Digital and Social traditional media?
As far as marketing is concerned, Internet Marketing (IM) has been the key in driving traffic and customer acquisition. Being an internet company, acquiring consumers already on the internet using IM has been very efficient for us. While IM will continue to be a key driver for marketing, TV and Print also become important to build the brand as we grow our business. Last year, we used TV to articulate the value proposition of how easy and fast the platform is to sell, buy, and find anything across our web and mobile platforms. We are also increasingly leveraging social media to increase engagement opportunities with potential users which will help us build stronger brand association and appeal over time. Going forward, we will continue to increase our marketing investments to further build the brand.

9. Currently you support only Android, Symbian and Java in terms of mobile apps? Will support come to other platforms like iOS, WP7 and BB?
PC: We will launch our WP7 app to the Windows Marketplace soon.  As far as other platforms are concerned, we plan to launch on them depending on strategic fit and the consumer demand we see.

10. Can you tell us how many of your users are exclusively accessing Quikr from their mobiles?
PC: Several millions. 

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