Organic traffic at OLX India, a unit of South African e-commerce giant Naspers, have grown 40 percent in the past two years. OLX, the biggest online classifieds player in India, recently launched a major rebranding exercise by unveiling a new logo along with new features on its mobile and web platforms. The new features include advanced filtering for car and real estate listings, inbuilt voice chat, notification bar, accessing preferred category directly, following sellers, etc. "The focus of the company for the next year is to double car sales business, see a two-fold rise in monthly active users from 5 crore to 10 crore and grow jobs segment," said Sushil Kumar, CEO, OLX India, in an interview with CNBCTV18.com.
OLX recently launched a new brand identity. What were the key reasons for the brand change?
The new brand resonates with the transformation that we are undergoing for our customers and for the business. The new avatar is an outcome of extensive user feedback and almost a year-long research conducted across 45 countries in which OLX operates globally. The research helped us understand differing aspirations and goals of the changing population of the world, their unique challenges in life and the motives that drive them. We realised that it is time that we consolidate and standardise the technology that we are using for all our markets for our global internet population. We also realised that the new ways of offering superior customer value are also changing. Therefore, we not only changed the brand’s visual identity but also the product itself. The app has been overhauled and there are many features that we have launched keeping in mind the unique challenges and opportunities in our top growing markets like India, which is amongst the top two growth countries for OLX globally. The new brand identity appeals to the millennials in India that are the early adopters of newer technologies.
Can you take us through the growth in traffic on OLX in the last couple of years? Have you seen first time internet users come on OLX? If so, what do they do?
Over the last two years, we have witnessed 40 percent organic traffic growth. Our page views in India are currently at 7 billion a month. Categories like automobile and smartphones have immensely contributed to the overall growth. Our tier 2 and tier 3 users are increasing, mirroring the trend observed in India for internet penetration. As per industry reports, there are 200 million internet users in non-tier 1 cities. Our research indicates that while most of the first-time internet users access the internet for entertainment and communication needs, they gradually move on to online marketplaces over a due course of time. On OLX, most of these first-time internet users will start by transacting low-ticket items such as mobile phones and then gradually move on to higher-ticket items such as automobiles or white goods. People browse the app for market understanding to begin with, and then eventually convert to buyers and sellers on the platform.
Where does India feature in the larger global scheme of things? How important is India for OLX?
India is amongst the top two growth markets for OLX globally. With 50 million users in India, OLX India comprises a key chunk of the global user base at OLX. The large populace of over 1.2 billion and the low yet rapidly progressing rate of internet adoption continues to inspire confidence. The government of India is aiming to create a trillion-dollar economy through digital India campaign as per an industry report. In the next two to three years, India will have 850 million internet users and 90 percent smartphone penetration. The time is ripe for disruption.
OLX recently acquired Aasaanjobs. Why did you acquire it and how does the acquisition impact your business?
As per a recent study by OLX, in urban centres alone, over 70 million+ blue/gray collar job opportunities are available each year while the workforce stands at 60 million workers annually signalling a significant scope for growth opportunity in the sector. Since the market for blue- and grey-collar jobs is relatively unorganised, it gives OLX a unique opportunity to penetrate in entry level jobs with a strong technology offered by Aasaanjobs, a segment of jobs wherein most of the online players are not yet able to solve the problem.
Aasaanjobs is a unique platform that uses technology and its wide reach to serve as an integrated go-to platform for recruiters. With the acquisition, we aim to disrupt the ever-growing job market with this portal and further unify our position in the job classifieds market in India.
With the auto sector going through a rough patch, how do you think that the business model of Cash My Car will work?
The pre-owned automobile sector has been growing steadily over the last one year and continues to do so despite the slowdown in the automobile sector. In its first year since launch, OLX Cash My Car has registered healthy month-on-month growth rates of 15 percent, on a track record of aggressive expansion. Piggybacking on this growth trend, OLX Cash My Car has expanded to two new cities in August. With the opening of stores across Jaipur and Ahmedabad, it brings the total store count of OLX Cash My Car to 69, including Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Mysuru, Nashik and Indore. The recent expansion also coincides with the launch of OLX Cash My Car’s latest national ad campaign in August. The campaign went live on TV, radio, cinema theatres and YouTube, in four languages -- Hindi, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.
With the slew of government initiatives announced for the automobile industry, we expect the auto industry to bounce back in the coming years. There are a lot of cars in India which are 5+ years old and are entering the pre-owned car market for sale. Hence this steady supply is expected to continue for the next few quarters thereby ensuring that OLX Cash My Car is on track to establish 150 CMC stores across India by 2021.
OLX Cash My Car builds on the market leadership that the company commands (80 percent market share in the Indian pre-owned automobile market), and delivers on the promise of convenient and instant car selling in the offline world. In terms of the business model, OLX Cash My Car is an end-to-end free service for users and is defined by speed, convenience and trust. A user can visit a nearby OLX Cash My Car store and request a free inspection. An OLX Cash My Car authorised vehicle inspection agent physically inspects the condition of the car and the documentation. On the basis of the inspection, the car is auctioned online to OLX Cash My Car empanelled channel partners across cities and the best price is offered to the car owner. Once the user accepts the offer, payment is received immediately by the user and the vehicle is transferred.
OLX has already forayed into the real estate sector. What is the idea behind it? What are your plans in terms of sales?
Real estate has traditionally been one of the mainstays at OLX for the last 11 years. Driven by iconic campaigns, OLX is synonymous with online classifieds in India today and is a household name. We have over 50 million monthly active users who access the platform every month across 4000+ cities in India which enables us to generate large amounts of listings in the real estate section. This in turn allows users to tap into a large selection of choices in the real estate section across commercial and residential properties. Over the years, as we grew, we decided to expand our presence in the real estate category in order to cater to the growing demand for real estate in India. One in every five users on the platform visits the real estate section, highlighting the increasing interest of consumers in buying, selling and renting properties online. There are over 1.2 billion page views every month on the real estate category on OLX. Such large numbers of users and inventory on OLX allows us to enable better discovery for users tailored to their real estate needs.
We have strengthened our position in the real estate category with strong business growth witnessed in 2018. Going forward, we will start monetising our India business soon. Business listers on OLX have also doubled their spends in 2018 vs 2017, showcasing OLX as a preferred marketing channel for the real estate industry in India. We are looking at doubling our monthly active users to 10 crore from the current 5 crore and growing our India business at least 10 times. As we look to strengthen our real estate vertical, we will scale our presence across residential and commercial properties being listed on OLX in 2019 by leveraging our strengths to address the various challenges plaguing the Indian real estate industry.
Today, real estate is among the fastest growing categories on OLX. We are focused on transforming the way consumers and sellers buy and sell real estate online. Going forward, we are determined to use our strengths in the market to resolve the various challenges in the real estate sector in India.
What are OLX's plans for 2019-20?
The plans for the new fiscal is to grow our user base, strengthen our existing categories, grow our new business lines and bolster the core theme of customer centricity across the entire OLX product portfolio. Our recent brand transformation aims to appeal to the global millennials. The app overhaul we announced in India earlier this year, backed by digital initiatives, advanced ML and AI has resulted in a better, global product which will transform the user experience. With over 85 percent market share in the classifieds segment in India, we are determined to introduce OLX to the new internet users across deeper pockets of the nation while also building upon our key categories. Today, the market is ripe for disruption at a time when the internet population is increasing at a staggering rate. India has a significant pool of internet users pegged at more than 450 million that are expected to increase from 65 percent to 90 percent by 2022 (as per a joint report by IBM and Kalaari Capital) while OLX has 50 million users in India. The focus of the company for the next year is to double car sales business, see a two-fold rise in monthly active users from 5 crore to 10 crore and grow jobs segment. With the development of right technology infrastructure, we are confident to further strengthen and develop our business model. In turn, this will enable us to offer a superior customer value that will be key to differentiation in our industry.
First Published: IST