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Tata Plans to Transform Online Shopping for a Billion Consumers

“India is a country of almost 1.4 billion people,” says Shouvik Banerjee, “and I’d imagine nearly every one of them is familiar with the Tata brand name.”

Banerjee – who is Chief Technology Officer at Tata CLiQ and Vice President for Digital Initiatives at Tata Industries – makes a bold statement. But he’s probably not exaggerating.

What started out as a family-run steel company in eastern India, is now a multinational conglomerate that consists of more than 100 separate companies, touching the lives of virtually every person on the subcontinent.

Today, the Tata Group operates in such diverse industries as automotive, information technology, chemicals, electric power, consumer products, and healthcare.

And the Tata family of companies continues to grow.

Last summer, the group kicked off yet another enterprise – Tata CLiQ. With this new company, Tata aims to transform the shopping experience for millions of Indian consumers.

A Business Model with National Appeal

“Tata CLiQ is an omnichannel marketing model that combines the convenience of online shopping with the familiarity of brick-and-mortar stores,” Banerjee says.

The Tata CLiQ marketplace currently offers men’s and women’s clothing, footwear and accessories, watches, and a wide selection of electronics that includes cameras, laptops, and household appliances.

As Banerjee explains, shoppers can use their laptops or smartphones to go online and place an order for any of these top-brand products. The order is then fulfilled by one of the many participating retailers.

Consumers have the option of getting the item delivered directly to their doorstep, or picking it up at the physical retail location closest to home.

“This flexibility is particularly attractive to the many Indians who prefer the pay-on-delivery model, and who want to pay for their purchases in cash,” says Banerjee.

A Largely Untapped Market

The potential for e-commerce in India is enormous – though many experts believe it’s a market that is still largely untapped.

An article appearing in The Economist last summer noted: “No battle for the online future of India is more intense than the one now being waged in e-commerce. Sales are still tiny, at $16 billion last year, but the country is the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce market and is prized by America’s and China’s internet titans.”

India’s own titans of industry are obviously interested as well.

In fact, Tata’s name recognition might give Tata CLiQ a distinct competitive advantage when it comes to winning over the nation’s more traditional consumers.

Tata CLiQ’s Chief Operating Officer, Ashutosh Pandey, points out that many newcomers to the digital space lack trust in online sites, and as a result, are looking for household names.

“Over the years, Tata has built a strong reputation for doing the right things,” Pandey says. “People often need anchors, and I think trust is the bigger anchor of all.”

Going for the WOW Factor

Tata has big plans for their online market platform.

According to company officials, they are actively tracking social media to help assess market sentiment and using analytics to improve Tata CLiQ “on a daily basis.” Furthermore, the platform is being driven by some of today’s top software tools. The company’s business systems, for example, combine several SAP Hybris solutions, SAP BusinessObjects business intelligence solutions, and the SAP Customer Relationship Management application.

For Tata CLiQ, it’s all about making sure shoppers are totally happy with what they buy.

“We are looking to ‘WOW’ our customers,” Banerjee says, “from product selection and service to delivering a satisfying online experience.”

Please follow me on Twitter @JohnGWard3.

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