There is tremendous buzz around the consumer Internet space these days and justifiably so! With the recent IPO’s of LinkedIn and Pandora combined with the upcoming IPO’s of Zynga and possibly Facebook, the industry is seeing a wave of market leaders finally go public, setting new benchmarks for valuing the next generation of Internet giants. Closer to home, activity levels in Internet businesses continues to be heightened as more capital flows in to category creation.
But amidst all the rapid growth, rise in business and media visibility, the key for these businesses is to build for the long term. This means not just acquiring customers for a single transaction, but consciously working on building a relationship to drive repeat visits and transactions. So while startups continue to focus on growth, below are some key messages I would like to share with the ecommerce startups in India now.
1. Differentiate or die
Being a me-too player is not likely to get you too far. Focus on what makes your service unique and deliver that consistently.
2. Listen every day
Stay close to your customer. Focus on capturing customer insights and data that will feed into your product/service roadmap. Involve yourself in tasks that will increase customer stickiness to your product offering.
3. Stay lean
While it’s important to build your organization to scale, try and extend your runway by being creative about your costs. Use the cloud, ask for favors and leverage your old relationships. You’ll have a chance to pay them back when you’re successful!
4. Leverage social media
Find a balance between paid and earned media. Give your customers a chance to share their “positive” experiences and reward them for their efforts.
5. Focus on delivery
Get your supply chain in order. Set realistic expectations on delivery times and then meet them. Resolve your returns issues before they become a drain on profitability.
6. Create network effects
Find a way to leverage your installed base to create some network effects and build some lock-in around your service.
Views expressed are personal.