With a 30% growth in 2018, the Romanian e-commerce market is one of the fastest growing markets in Europe. At GPeC SUMMIT we talked to Ian Jindal, the founder of Internet Retailing magazine about the e-commerce trends in Europe and Romania in particular.
Ian has studied thousands of businesses and thinks the Romanian digital retail market has a few particularities. First, there is a small number of global players selling into Romania, while very few local players sell cross-border.
What we’ll see over the coming years is that more global players will deliver to and sell in Romania, so there will be an increase in competition, and some of the bigger Romanian players will start selling cross-border. It won’t happen overnight, but, overall, we will see a growth towards a more cross-border marketplace.
Check out the interview below for his insights on growing opportunities for start-ups and mid-sized companies in the following years.
GPeC: How would you gain marketshare if you were an e-commerce start-up in Romania?
No one just gets marketshare. If you’re starting a business you don’t wake up in the morning and think “Oh, I’ve got no customers and no product, I want to be a retailer!”. So, most are driven by an opportunity and there are two types of opportunities. One is product-focused, which says “I want to.. there’s a gap in the market, I’ve got a great product I can offer”, in which case you will sell that wherever you can: marketplace, own store, physical store. Other people are focused on customer, saying “What does my customer need? Where does she go, what is she looking for?” and then you service that customer. So, people who are starting a business will generally have either a product or customer expertise. But the best ones will have both.
And that means you take your product, you connect with the customer wherever she is, her interests, her passions, her life, and that way you can sell to her relevant product.
GPeC: One of the main challenges on the Romanian market is achieving operational excellence. What would you advice e-commerce entrepreneurs in this matter?
If you are expert and it makes a difference, do it yourself. If you’re just copying other people’s operational excellence, use a partner. So, an example being delivery, I physically can’t drive to everywhere in Romania and deliver tomorrow, whereas people like DHL, the post office can. So, what we find is that the e-commerce platforms are getting better and cheaper, logistics: better, cheaper, delivery: better, cheaper, so, it’s never been a better time to start! 4.10 So, use experts, or be better experts, but don’t be in the middle.
GPeC: What should they look at when choosing their partners?
I think a partner has to share the same understanding of service that you do. So, if you’re offering next-day delivery, but there’s no customer help-line, there’s no service recovery, then you don’t need that, because it’s just giving you problems. So, I’ll look first of all for:
- Do they do what you need?
- Can you afford the price?
- Are they the people you want to work with?
- Do they share your values?
That’s how I’d pick the right partner for me.
GPeC: What’s going to be the next challenge on the e-commerce and retail market in the next couple of years?
Ian Jindal: There are many many challenges because the market is so competitive. And there are more people coming direct to market, so, people who started on marketplaces, for example on eMAG, who are now doing their own products. So I say the first thing is being relevant. Getting in front of your customer and in 1/3 of a second, they think “Oh, yes, tell me more!” So, if you can’t do that, you’ll never build your customer base, so I think relevance and expertise are the most challenging things.
GPeC: What would you recommend entrepreneurs, business-wise?
The thing I would say is, if you believe in what you’re doing and you’re interested in and it’s fun, the market is so big and growing, that there’s plenty of space for small players. And the massive players have got plenty of space as well. The heart is in the middle. So, if you’re already big, but you’re just a bit ok, and you don’t love it, others will take a chunk out of you. So if you’re starting out today, you’ve a great time. It’s never been cheaper to start a business. It’s never been better to start a business. And the customer is already educated. So, start-ups, you have a great time. Mid-size companies, it’s a bit harder, mainly because all of your staff are doing their own start-ups.
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