[Interview] Ambareesh Murty, Founder and CEO, Pepperfry.com Talks about the Impact of Social Media on Retail Business

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Retailers Association of India is organizing its annual flagship event, Retail Leadership Summit (RLS 2013) on 7th & 8th Feb 2013 at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai.

India is a nation of shopkeepers with innovative competencies to delight customers. India’s huge consumption capability is a big opportunity for retail. RLS 2013 is a platform that promises the audience an unparalleled retail learning experience. Indian Retail’s largest congregation of business leaders invites you to SHARE thoughts, CONNECT and IDEATE with the best minds in retail from across the world.

Theme of the event: “An invitation to innovation!!”

The event is expected to be attended by the Who’s Who of the Indian Retail Industry i.e. about 500+ Delegates, 60+ Speakers and 50+ partners in India.

Ambareesh Murty, Founder and CEO, Pepperfry.com is one of the Keynote Speakers at the Retail Leadership Summit, supported by several featured speakers.

In this interview, Mr. Ambareesh talks about Pepperfry.com’s Social Media activities and their impact on business.

 Ambareesh Murty Pepperfry at Retail Leadership Summit

1. How do you gain Analytical insights from Social Media while understanding your target consumer base and their purchase behaviour?

Presence in Social Media is de rigueur for any brand’s marketing and communication strategy in today’s time. One can draw intelligent insights about the business and consumers using the data available. Social media provides useful analytics on customer profile both demographic and psycho graphic which marketers can use intelligently to define their target segment and communication strategy.

For example – Pepperfry’s main consumer base is women aged 25 and above, and we see that ‘Home’ related content on our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages, garners more interaction, page views, visits and registrations. A jewellery contest promoted on Facebook saw our fan base jump 6X and we noticed a 5X increase in engagement levels in 1 day.

2. How do you measure the social impacts your business and the monetary value of conversions that occurred due to visits from social networks?

You can measure impact of Social Media activities on traffic and engagement metrics like page views, visits, registrations, time spent on site, pages visited and inferences can be drawn on final conversions using this information.

3.Considering the fact that the number one goal of an eCommerce retailers is not sharing, it is selling. However, people want more from social media than just a constant stream of sales pitches. How do you look forward to balance both in the changing landscape of the market?

There’s been an ongoing debate whether social networking websites provide sufficient conversion rates to online businesses. According to us, social media is a good platform for creating consumer engagement, forming opinions, observations & gives a humane perspective to a brand which influences down-stream purchase decisions. Hence, for us the balance lies in viewing Social Media Marketing as an engagement medium that drives organic buzz, which fulfills the long term business-goal of a brand.

4. What are your views on harnessing the power of Social Media to improve customer experience and retention?

When Pepperfry launched in 2012, we were swamped with feedback of all sorts and we soon realised the effectiveness of Social Media Platform to address customer queries. The best way to handle all feedback – positive or negative – is to embrace it in the right spirit and strike a balanced conversation with the customer.

Quick follow-ups and updates go a long way, in winning their confidence. Similarly sharing of a nice experience by a customer on social media helps get word of mouth and reputation for the brand. We have seen a good uptick in our Home & Furniture business courtesy views shared by happy customers.

5. How would you expand your eCommerce strategy into the social commerce realm?

In the categories that we focus on – namely – home, furniture, lifestyle etc. – consumer behaviour is such that many key buying decisions are made by observing and interacting-with peers, friends, family etc. Women are a key consumer segment for Pepperfry and they often exchange-notes-on/recommend-products, that they find interesting and/or have a good experience with.

Both these factors make it inevitable that ‘social channels’ will play a key role in purchase-decision-making and it is but a small and logical next-step to enable seamless transitions that can convert this sharing/recommendations etc. into actual transactions.

6. How do you perceive leadership in an era of Innovation and Change?

The leadership mantra in this era of innovation and change is ‘being unreasonable’. Today’s leaders need to be prepared for disruptive innovation and be prepared to disrupt their own previously successful business models to ensure their businesses thrive in an ever changing market.