Cashback Shopping: one-of-a-kind-concept in India. Interview with Ravitej Yadalam, CEO -pennyful.in

Pennyful.in is a revolutionary patent-pending cashback program designed specifically to cater to the Indian market. This offer cashback to shoppers on all transactions made through Pennyful online and offline. I am happy to feature Mr. Ravitej Yadalam, CEO at Pennyful over this interview. Thank you to Ravitej for making his time for this interview!

Here are the excerpts of the interview-

Pawan: Tell us about Pennyful.in &it’s eureka moment?

Ravitej: E-commerce as a concept inspired me at a very young age. I got my first experience with e-commerce while I was a student and when I graduated the immense potential of e-commerce was very clear to me. I saw tremendous opportunity in the space with possibilities to be creative, think out-of-the-box and the possibilities of working with the most innovative of business models.

I founded Pennyful.com an online cash back shopping program for the American E-commerce market in 2010. On Pennyful.com we currently have over 2500 partners across the US and over 30million products showcased through the platform.

Pennyful.in was incepted with the success of Pennyful.com in late 2011. Pennyful.in is an online cashback program targeting the Indian Retailer and Consumer. With partners in a wide array of verticals like Travel, Consumer Electronics, Pennyful.in offers the Indian shopper, cashback on online shopping. We currently have 100+ partner merchants featured on our platform.

Pawan: How Pennyful.in is different from other online deal/discount portals?

Ravitej: Pennyful is a platform for cashback rewards and is fundamentally very different from a deal/discount portal. Our key differentiator is that we offer real cashback to shoppers.

On our platform we do not talk about discounts or deals, Pennyful offers cashback rewards to customers who shop through our site. The platform allows us to reward customers for their shopping at any of our partner stores with Cashback, in the form of real money. This cashback gets credited into their Pennyful Accounts until the time that they wish to redeem it.

 So we pay a shopper for coming through pennyful.in and shopping at any of our partner stores. Effectively we are giving the shopper money, for a few extra clicks!

We act as a medium where shoppers are able to get additional savings without any hidden conditions and clauses. We let the customer redeem this reward through a cheque or bank transfer.

Pawan: Having experienced the US market, how do you see the adaptability of Cash Back Shopping by Indian online consumers? How Indian market is different from US market?

Ravitej: The concept of cashback has existed in the US for decades and there is a very good understanding of the benefits to shoppers as well as merchant partners. Since the market is aware of the concept and there is a very good level of acceptance of the same, it eliminated the challenge of creating awareness.

In the Indian context, with an emerging e-commerce industry we see a lack of awareness for the concept of cashback. We can also not shun away completely the matter of trust which is still somewhat an issue with online shopping among Indian shoppers. In terms of adaptability with our concept, we have seen a tremendous response.

The level of acceptance of new concepts in the growing e-commerce space is seeing some traction although slowly.

Pawan: Could you provide us some statistics, how many cities is pennyful.in active in (number of users point of view)? How many users have signed up & at what rate it is growing?

Ravitej: We see Pennyful customers coming from all parts of India. We are seeing a lot of traffic from major metros such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. We have since November 2011 seen a 150% growth in user signups month on month.

Pawan: What is your marketing mix and retention strategy? How do you ensure repeat sales?

Ravitej: We are very active in Social Media and channels like search and email marketing have worked well for us. Along with these organic traffic from search engines accounts for a significant part of our traffic and sales.

We are in the business of giving out cheques to shoppers which entices them to come back. The experience is designed to be hassle-free and simple for the shopper, which is also a contributing factor to the high repeat buying behavior.

Pawan: What are the expansion plans of Pennyful? Are you be rolling out to other countries in near future?

Ravitej:There is great opportunity for us to grow given the emergent e-commerce market in India. We are looking to expand in terms of the sectors we work in and the brands we work with significantly over the next few months. We are in the process of exploring new geographies at Pennyful.

We are also constantly innovating to make a customer’s shopping experience more enjoyable with Pennyful and will continue to add new exciting features to the platform.

Pawan: Is Pennyful looking to raise fund – if yes, share some strategies on your pitch for fund raising?

Ravitej:There are several different areas we are exploring in this quarter, the results of which will determine the kind of funding we may require. We will have clarity on this in the coming months.

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