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Thought Leaders in E-Commerce: Jacob Cooke, CEO of Web Presence in China (Part 7)

Posted on Wednesday, Oct 29th 2014

Sramana Mitra: That is also the beginning of the rise of more fragmented industries right? Let’s say that these larger brands that are operating on Tmall start to be able to track customers and build a trusted relationship with the consumer. Let’s say the first time the transaction happens on Tmall, the user is starting to get familiar with the brand. Then I imagine they would start feeling comfortable buying from that brand off Tmall.

Jacob Cooke: Yes, that depends. Every company that we deal with has different channel strategies and channel partners, but that’s true. It could work vice versa. They might have found that brand while they were on a vacation abroad or in a store when they were traveling to Shanghai but now they’re back in their 2nd or 3rd tier cities where they might not have access to that. It might work both ways. It might not necessarily be the first experience they’ve had with the brand. It’s just another convenience experiment.

I think the metrics there are pretty good. The make-up of the consumers in the US is female-dominated. It’s the same here. There’s a lot of entertainment to it as well in terms of that shopping experience. That’s what people want to do with their time online – lots of window shopping.

Sramana Mitra: I imagine that it’s just a matter of time. Right now, it’s a highly consolidated industry. When the US industry started, it was a highly concentrated e-commerce industry where eBay and Amazon were pulling the maximum weight. Gradually, the independent e-commerce stores started to gain ground and it has now become a very distributed economy. Still, Amazon and eBay hold very strong power but the specialty retail that has moved on to e-commerce has really taken off in a big way. Probably, it’s another decade away from China. I think, in the next 10 years, that evolution will happen.

Jacob Cooke: I think so too. Like I said, it’s all about trust out here.

Sramana Mitra: That is a very important point. I think China is a low-trust society whereas the US is a high-trust society. That’s probably one of the big driving forces why the industry is moving so slowly.

Jacob Cooke: You’re right. The industry as a whole is moving slowly to adopt standalone platforms. In terms of volume numbers, the growth is incredible.

Sramana Mitra: Absolutely. If you want to see something that is really growing slowly, that is India. India should have grown a lot faster. It’s a terribly low-trust society.

Jacob Cooke: That’s always surprised us. We’ve had some of the clients who had very good success tell us, “Do India.” We did some research over there, but it was surprising. There’s so many engineers all over the world that it seems to me that it’s a high-tech and highly educated society. A lot of the people we work with are still based in India. They just constantly complain about Internet speeds and infrastructure. Those are part of the issues out there too.

Sramana Mitra: Broadband has not really penetrated into the rank and file in India. That was a very interesting conversation. Is there anything else you want to add?

Jacob Cooke: I think we covered it. There’s obviously a lot to talk about, so if you ever want to have another conversation, feel free to reach out.

Sramana Mitra: I’ll keep in touch. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Thought Leaders in E-Commerce: Jacob Cooke, CEO of Web Presence in China
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