Salesman of the year

Published: 09 December, 2012 10:09 IST | Phorum Dalal |

Getting rid of stuff you no longer want doesn't mean you need to take to the streets and flaunt your wares at passersby. Join the 20 million Indian Internet users who have discovered the convenience of free online classifieds, which, say industry experts, have witnessed a surge in the past year. Log on and post your ad on the giant bazaar called the World Wide Web

Last year, 22 year-old Aatif Sumar wanted to “get rid” of his cellphone so that he could buy a new phone. He put up a few posts on Facebook and Twitter, hoping that friends would respond in the affirmative, to no avail.

Aatif Sumar, a 22 year-old Colaba resident who has sold two phones and a pair of unused headphones on free online classified sites. He plans to sell another pair of headphones next

“I then logged on to Olx (.com), which offers free online classifieds, and created an ad to sell my Samsung Galaxy S phone. When I had enquired from a local mobile dealer near my house, he was ready to pay Rs 5,000 for it. I quoted a price of Rs 6,000 on the website,” says the Colaba resident, who found a buyer within 12 hours of posting the ad.

Since then, there has been no turning back for Sumar, who sold a pair of headphones, which cost Rs 1,200, in March for Rs 900. Joining Sumar are 20 million people of India’s 120 million Internet users, who have latched onto the idea of posting free local classified ads on sites such as Quikr (.com), Olx (.com), Sulekha (.com) and Locanto (.in) where they can find a buyer for their used or secondhand products within minutes.

Sashin Shah, 31 year-old Matunga resident, bought an iPad after reading a free classified ad online

Numbers speak
Olx (.com), which started in 2006, launched its first television ad campaign in May 2011. “In the last year, we have seen maximum growth in the category of selling personal goods in India,” says Amarjit Batra, CEO, Olx (.com). Like TRP is for television ratings, the comscore measures Internet ratings depending on the number of page views. In May 2011, the rating for Olx (.com) was around 10 million page views, while in October 2012, the ratings jumped to approximately 87 million page views per month.

Meanwhile, the comscore of Quikr (.com) is approximately 80 million views per month, which has increased from around 40 million last year. In the past year, India has discovered how easy it is to sell a large variety of products, says Pranay Chulet, CEO, Quikr.(com).

“Ten years ago, there was no concept of selling used products in India and people usually gave away things they wanted to discard to the househelp or scrap dealers for a pittance. Today, 17 to 18 per cent of India’s Internet users are our customers as buyers or sellers,” says Chulet, who believes the sudden surge in the industry is based on three things - “availability or demand, the ease with which you can post an ad on sites and economics. Classified sites offer deals in all price ranges, and once a buyer gets in touch with the seller, he can always negotiate. In the past year, our users have tripled, and it is the best growth we have seen since we started four years ago,” he adds.

It’s simple, it’s easy
The easy steps to posting a classified and the convenience of finding a buyer within a short span of time is why many users, such as Anshul Chopra, return to these sites. Chopra, who works in his family business, has sold two cellphones in the past one year.

“The first time I logged on to post an ad, I wasn’t skeptical at all, as there was nothing to lose. I had bought the latest model of the Blackberry Bold and wanted to sell the previous version. At 12.30 pm I posted an ad and a guy from Ahmedabad emailed me about his interest in the phone. We shared four to five emails, and the next day he wired Rs 6,000 into my account and I couriered him the phone. It was pretty simple,” says the Bhandup resident, who also sold a Nokia E72 last month. 

“I sold the second phone in flat five hours. A buyer saw the ad at 12.30 pm and we met at a decided spot at 4.30 pm. By 5 pm, he handed me the cash and walked away with the piece,” laughs the 29 year-old.

Touch, feel, buy
But aren’t Indians known as people who like to touch and feel a product before they buy it? Batra believes that is changing. “As there is no cash transaction taking place online and the buyer and seller meet to close the final deal, buyers get to see the product and check it thoroughly before buying it. This is why people find it so simple to use online classifieds,” he feels.

In January last year, wedding planner Sashin Shah wanted to buy a high-end iPad. “The model I wanted hadn’t even launched in India, but I found an ad on Quikr. (com). I texted the number mentioned in the ad, saying that I wanted to see the piece before I bought it. Before meeting the seller, I did my homework and checked online on the technical aspects I should consider for before buying it - the version number, memory and external scratches. The piece was in good condition and within my budget. In a day’s time, I was a proud owner of the iPad, which till date gives me no trouble,” smiles the 31 year-old Matunga resident.

“Free online classified websites represent a market where a seller can find a buyer,” says Ankur Warikoo, CEO, Groupon (.com). Groupon is a platform for merchants to sell their products online and services online.

“The final transaction takes place either face to face or through a phone chat between the buyer and seller. So, the buyer doesn’t have to pay online. Earlier, it did not make sense to reach out to five to seven million odd buyers. But today, consumer’s mindset has changed and it is all about convenience, economical offers and ease with which one can sell anything and everything. This is one reason why in the past year, companies have been advertising and marketing their website vigorously.” says Warikoo.

But, there are challenges, Warikoo points out. While the variety of products being sold online can be controlled, the quality depends on the users. “It is difficult to maintain the quality and websites depend on reviews, ratings and feedback,” he explains.

Top selling items
Mobile phones
Electronic gadgets
Used cars
Car / flat rental

Number game
The October comscore of Quikr (.com) is approximately 80 million views per month, which has increased from around 40 million last year.

In May 2011, rating for Olx (.com) was around 10 million page views per month, while in October 2012, the ratings jumped to approximately 87 million page views per month

How to buy 
Aand sell online
For those buying or selling for the first time, here are a few things to keep in mind:
> If you are uneasy sharing your personal number, share an email id or a secondary number
> Do not put up personal details
> While adding a description to the product you want to sell, mention its working condition, how old it is and whether it needs repair. It will save your time as well as the buyer's while closing the deal
> Meet at a public spot 

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