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“Risk Of Returns On Cash On Delivery Is 30-40 Per Cent”
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“Risk Of Returns On Cash On Delivery Is 30-40 Per Cent”  
The data gets even more shocking as industry numbers suggest around 50 per cent of online shopping is happening via COD at the moment.   
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Monday, June 11, 2012 Online retail segment is booming. Mindful of this, there are companies venturing into the online retail business. So here comes a retail website that takes the responsibility of dressing up your home. RoomStory.com was started by Prerak Sethi, CEO and co-founder and Nipun Virmani, COO and co-founder last year. In an exclusive chat with EFYTimes.com, they both open up about the pros and cons of online retail business along with the nitty gritties involved.

Room Story, roomstory.com, online retail site, home shopping

With so many online retail sites in India, why should a customer come to you and not choose any other site?

RoomStory is an online home store focused on building a great experience for our customers. When it comes to home products, people want to be pampered and feel good about shopping. From product curation, to a quality website, and post order service we are looking to build a great experience for our customers. Our unique proposition is that we solely focus on home so we believe we can build that specialised experience that this category requires.

What was your go to market strategy? What is the best way to have people know about your brand- advertising, word of mouth, social networking platform?

We are using a combination of online and offline marketing. Social marketing is a key component of online marketing, and is supplemented with Facebook and Google Ads. We are also focused on content creation because people like to read about their homes and one way to interest them is through décor tips, market trends, and more. When it comes to offline marketing, we are trying different guerrilla strategies like flyers, targeted coupons, and banners in places we have access to (without overspending).

Your website is the face of your brand. How do you ensure it keeps up and running? Any special measures involved?

We make sure that we have a good technology team that stands by when things go wrong. Both of us are computer engineers by background, have worked with technology for large firms and understand the importance of technology. And therefore we are focused on building a strong team that can develop, maintain, and scale our technology as the needs grow.

How do you ensure that you get the right kind of customer feedback?

Both of us actively monitor our support e-mail and telephone lines so we directly engage with customers and hear what they are talking about. It is easy for businesses to hand off customer interaction to other people and not pay much attention to what they have to say. Great large businesses all over the world have senior executives who put some time and effort into staying as close to the ground as possible through direct customer engagement. We at RoomStory do believe in the same. We from time to time even call our customers post order fulfillment to request for feedback.

What is the primary trigger for a customer to buy something online- is it the look and feel of the site, ease of shopping, easy delivery, cash on delivery model?

It’s hard to call out one thing as the primary trigger for attracting customers online. Different customers have different needs which bring them online. In our minds, convenience and selection are two of the biggest attractions. And then it’s the customer experience that makes them want to come back.

What percentage of people use cash on delivery?

Industry numbers suggest around 50 per cent of online shopping happening via COD at the moment. Our traffic, which is still small at the moment to represent the cross country sample well, comes in close to that range as well.

How much percentage of risk is involved in case of cash on delivery- have you come across cases where customers return the merchandise if they don’t like it?

Risk of returns when it comes to COD is high (even as seen by some of the leaders in the ecommerce market today), which is why most e-commerce companies would love to distance themselves from it if possible. However, given the amount of business coming from it, it’s not something that’s easy to do.

Industry numbers put the risk of returns on COD transactions around 30-40 per cent.

Kalpana Sharma, EFYTIMES News Network

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