Interview with Praveen Sinha

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Founding Jabong.com in the autumn of 2011, Praveen Sinha envisions an online E-commerce portal that delivers the trendiest and the fastest, while inducing a memorable customer experience.

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Interview with Praveen Sinha

  1. 1. Founding Jabong.com in the autumn of 2011, Praveen Sinha envisions an online E-commerce portal that delivers the trendiest and the fastest, while inducing a memorable customer experience. The present sees him as MD and Co-founder of Jabong.com, however, his past achievements bring to light someone who is considered a maven in start-ups and a turnaround specialist. Having worked in companies like Microsoft, Maruti and Mckinsey, he has also played a pivotal role in effectuating energy conservation initiative across the span of Asia. In addition, known for a keen interest in new business initiatives, like establishing Aquabrim, he exhibits an immense passion for entrepreneurship that is highlighted in his frequent sharing of work experiences and insights at various institutes like IIMs, XLRI, Great Lakes to name a few. ENTREPRENEURSHIP What were the reasons behind taking up an entrepreneurship route when you had the safety of a corporate life? The idea to start business was there since my College days, during my MBA in IIM C I started my first venture - Aquabrim.com which is still active and present in NCR and has plan to go to national level. However finally, I left Mckinsey and got full time into start ups with Jabong.com as opportunity was huge and I was prepared to take the required risks and challenges What are the factors that you would look into while investing in a start-up? I think investing in a start-up is about believing in the quality of the team, the size of the opportunity and the scalability of the idea. While the idea can be worked upon or pivoted, the core team cannot be changed; hence investing in a start-up is a huge bet on the team. Could you please tell us about the idea that resulted in establishment of Jabong.com?
  2. 2. The scale of operations cannot be managed without strong IT backbone. Maruti has a strong IT system to support all its operations. In fact, IT has helped in multiple froms by not only bringing in efficiency in operations but also reducing overall cost of operations. OPERATIONS AND SCM What have been the major issues in the Operations and Supply Chain of Jabong.com and how have you resolved them? One of the major challenges that we faced was scaling up really quickly while maintaining the high service levels. From day one, we were clear that whatever we build has to be scalable. To achieve this, we adopted modular approach so that processes could be replicated and scaled easily. We designed the capacity on base load but developed flexibility in the system to take care of peak demand situations. We leveraged technology wherever possible to automate or semi-automate the processes. We also made adequate checks and took measures through detailed and intelligent MIS reports which helped us in identifying our areas of improvement. Jabong.com claims to deliver products in top 10 cities within 48 hours and to other places within 1-3 days, while it is delivering products on the same day in metros like Delhi. Could you please explain how Jabong.com has achieved this remarkable feat within one year of its inception? We have actually revolutionized the industry by offering same day delivery in Delhi NCR and next day delivery in metros. It has been a team effort and has been achieved by strong co-ordination across functions like; customer care for order confirmation, warehouse for order processing and logistics for delivery. We have also built strong, cross-functional teams to ideate and improve processes. Flipkart has started its own courier service, perhaps to reduce their dependence on third party courier services. Does Jabong.com have any such plans? JaVAS, which stands for Jabong Value Added Services has been operational for almost as long as Jabong.com has been taking orders from customers. It is currently present in close to 50 cities. The same day and next day deliveries mentioned have been achieved through JaVAS. Could you please let us know how Information Technology is leveraged by Jabong.com in its Operations and Supply Chain? Information & technology is the backbone of our warehousing, customer care and logistics operations. We have implemented ERP at warehouse and built CRM and logistics management systems for in-house operations. In addition, we have introduced Mswipe facility at the point of delivery and developed content management system for production. Wal-Mart has the largest information technology infrastructure of any private company in the world.It helps Wal-Mart to accurately forecast demand, track and predict inventory levels and create highly efficient transportation routes. Is Jabong.com using any Demand forecasting tools so that it can reduce inventory levels and forecast demands effectively?
  3. 3. Being in the e-commerce industry, we have access to consolidated data involving clicks and page views on our website. We have also gone granular in our customer segmentation. We have a dedicated forecasting team which uses state-of-the-art methodologies and tools to predict the demand based on the huge chunk of data as well as industry trends. JABONG.COM Jabong.com is now the most trafficked e-commerce site in India. What are the steps taken by Jabong.com to achieve this? We always believed in big bang approach to enter the market and went for online advertising aggressively at the start of last year, which was complemented by presence in traditional advertising channels like television and radio. We have strong focus on organic growth through Google and Facebook which helps in driving hits to our web shop. Aligning all our operations with these steps, we ensure customer delight which is a result of high standards in service and product quality to help spread the customer base and loyalty. How do you see the future of online retailing in India, given the tough competition and thin profit margins? E-commerce is still evolving in India and the current players are focusing on expanding the market i.e. getting more and more end users to transact online. This is a long drawn process as it involves changing habits. In this quest for new customers, companies are offering free shipping, returns, COD, etc which are impacting the margins. In our view, after a few years, there will only be a few large players and a set of few niche players who would successfully maintain profitability. How does Jabong.com differentiate from other players in the e-retail segment? The DNA of Jabong.com is all about widest assortment, speed, efficiency and process excellence. We differentiate ourselves in being the first to get new styles and options on our website, first to get the products shipped to the customers and the first to refund customer’s money in case of returns. In the process, we have redefined the market by introducing options like instant returns (open delivery), same day delivery in NCR and next day delivery in metros, instant refunds, etc. And we have done it on a large scale. Does Jabong.com have plans to enter into Brick and Mortar models of retail? Jabong.com believes that in the long run, e-commerce is a scalable and cost efficient way to reach out to maximum customers. We do not plan to enter into offline retail. However, we have and may continue to have some strategic, located touch points to create awareness, establish customer connect and build trust. GENERAL
  4. 4. What is the one advice that you would give to young managers aspiring to join the supply chain management sector? Supply chain is about continuous improvement and operational excellence. In order to bring in significant improvements, it is important to get into the details of each process, understand the involvement of stakeholders and work on incremental improvements. It is very easy to fail in this sector; however, to be successful, one needs to work diligently and have strong checks and balances. This sector gives huge opportunity to create next level of service experience.

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