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NDTV's Gadgets 360° to avoid deep discounts in curated marketplace play

24 Sep, 2015

Bhawna Agarwal, CEO of NDTV Ltd's new e-commerce venture Gadgets 360°, says her company will refrain from doling out deep discounts.

Gadgets 360° will differentiate itself in the crowded gadget e-tailing space by arranging exclusive deals and assisting users through reviews/in-depth features.

"Our platform will be a beautiful hybrid of content, curation and commerce," Bhawna, who was earlier CEO of Seventymm, said. She is also an advisor at OYO Rooms.

Gadgets 360°, which was launched last week, is backed by Paytm's parent One97 Communications, Inflexionpoint (co-founded by former Apple CEO John Sculley), Pramod Bhasin (former CEO of Genpact), consumer-focused VC firm Sixth Sense Ventures, Vindi Banga (former chairman, Unilever India), Hiro Mashita (founder and director of M&S Partners) and others.

Gadgets 360° has already partnered with Chinese smartphone makers Gionee and Qiku and audio devices players Harman Kardon and JBL to exclusively sell some of their products on its platform.

In the next 12 months, over 25 products will be launched on Gadgets 360°, it claims.

Excerpts from an interview with Gadgets 360°'s Bhawna Agarwal:

Flipkart, Snapdeal and other e-commerce players are major gadget e-tailers. How different is Gadgets 360° from the existing players?

Our thinking is not based on the 'sabse sasta yahan milega' concept. We will never get into deep discounting to offer cheapest products. The focus will be on the experience of buying a gadget. We will allow users to decide which gadget is best suited for them, and why they should buy a particular gadget. Price should only be a hygiene factor. At the end of the day, people look at 10 websites, ask friends and do thorough research before buying a gadget. I believe 90 per cent of the market still relies on each other for information and recommendation. This is where we come in. We want to create a credible platform where a consumer can buy what they need based on the right recommendation.

We will also offer the best experience in terms of after-sales service. Gadgets 360° will be a curated marketplace. While the focus will be on exclusive partnerships with brands, we will also provide a beautiful hybrid of content, curation and commerce.

One of your investors is Paytm which also has an e-commerce platform…

We are going to learn a lot from it. We can learn from Paytm's best practices and yet chart out our own way. As a company, we have a secure DNA. There is space for everyone if you do things right. We have an interesting mix of investors. We do have a free hand but the experience of these matured leaders is helping us. They would like us to leverage their experiences. We do not want to build a business that grows fast by burning money and then wonder how to make profits.

Are you making senior level hiring?

A decently sized team is driving the idea. Personally, I would like to have a lean team that is empowered. So, we are looking at leaders who would drive the key teams at Gadgets360. It is too early to talk about senior hires. However, the focus is to get more process leaders and experts.

There is already a portal called Tech Gadgets 360. Do you think customers will get confused?

Not at all. Before any launch, there could be players with similar names. As long as you are focused on creating an amasing recall for your own brand, people will end up on your website. We are not really worried.

Considering that NDTV already has production and editing capabilities, will Gadgets 360° venture into television shopping as well?   

It may or may not happen, depending on how the company pans out. Currently, we are focused on the digital space. If eventually we find other channels to look at, we will be happy to do so. Right now, the digital market itself is so huge that we need to conquer that first. That is what our investors are also saying.

Will the company start its own line of white label gadgets?

We have not reached that stage yet. It is important to know what should not be done at the outset. As I said, our focus will be on digital in phase one. We are not tempted to get into anything else just because our competitors are also doing it.

However, if something amazing happens in the next six months, we would surely re-think.

Would the company look at morphing into a mobile-only or app-only player?

A lot of new things could be brought to the table in the next few quarters. However, we would not go with the mobile-only or web-only approach. I am sure people who have gone app-only would have enough research to back their approach. However, we would not want to move in that direction. Users interact in different ways and so it does not make sense for a consumer-centric company to have just one channel. For the next few years, our plans would be flexible.