'Only a quarter of Indians are online'

'Only a quarter of Indians are online'

'Only a quarter of Indians are online'
The $1.39-bn GoDaddy is the world’s leading domain registrar. The company began operations in India since 2012. In a recent telephone interaction with Georgy S Thomas of Deccan Herald,Rajiv Sodhi, Managing Director, GoDaddy India and Australia, spoke about the trends in India’s growing internet market.

How is the internet market growing in India?

There are about 300 million internet users in India. Globally, the internet is growing at about 14–15 per cent in terms of connections. In India, it is growing at about 26 per cent. China and India are the fastest growing markets. India took 10 years to hit the first 100 million, three years for the next 200 million, and one year for the next 300 million. We are probably at par with the US or slightly ahead, and only China is ahead of us.

Is the market saturated, or does it have potential for growth?

The 300 million is only about 25 per cent of the overall population. So 75 per cent of the population is still on the other side of the digital divide. The biggest challenge is to bring this mass of people online.

How many domains have been registered in India?

Overall about four million domains have been registered in the country. Looking at the domain name penetration relative to the internet population of a country, India stands at just about two per cent in contrast to a market like the US where domain name penetration is upwards of 20 per cent.

Which are the popular domains inIndia?

Globally, dotcom (.com) is the most preferred domain. In India, it is a twin horse story with dotcom and dotin (.in) equally strong.

The two domains take up 80–90 per cent of the overall market. Then there are the rest. More often companies are eager to see if their preferred domain names or brand names are available in dotcom and dotin.

If they are available, we see people going for both. Recently, dotin registrations crossed the 1.7-million mark globally. GoDaddy is the number one registrar for dotin domain names with over 33 per cent of the total market.

The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), which manages dotin domain names, expects to register 2.5 million dotin domain names by this year.

Who are your competitors?

Indian competitors include Net4India and Directi. Globally, there are companies like 1&1 and Melbourne IT.

What are you doing to grow the market in India?

There are a bunch of things that we have done. One, we made sure that the pricing is localised. Two, we ensured that a host of payment methods are available. Three, we provided wholesome customer service. Four, we made available bundles which make it easy for customers to start.

On pricing, whether it is domain, hosting, or products, the pricing in India and the US site are actually very different. It is not just the currency conversion. Just to give an example, dotin domain would cost more in the US site than in the India site. There is no standard markup or discount here. Prices could be 30–40 per cent less in some cases, or the same in others.

On point number two, globally people rely on credit cards and PayPal for transactions. In India, these two channels had limitations. So we enabled a whole bunch of payment options like Net Banking, debit cards, ATM cards, mobile payments, and mobile wallets.

Third is customer service. India is a do-it-for-me market where lots of handholding is expected. So we invested in a customer care centre where one could call free 24x7 to reach consultants who can do a whole host of things  like process your orders and help you configure the products you bought.

Finally, our value proposition to the customer is that we are a one-stop shop. So we are innovatively creating bundles. For example, Get Online Today, where we have a domain, a website, and an Office 365 email all bundled into one solution starting at Rs 99 a month with an annual purchase plan.

How are you helping professionals who would like to sell stuff online?

We have launched GoDaddy Online Store in India. For Rs 999/month (annual purchase), the GoDaddy Online Store offers free hosting, payment solutions, mobile-friendly store, Facebook store, SSL, Google Analytics integration, etc. For people who want to customise their online stores, our customer care centre will guide them to partner Web developers and resellers. We have separate products for Managed Wordpress hosting, Email Marketing, and Search Engine Optimisation.

How many people do you employ in India?

GoDaddy India employs 300 people at its Hyderabad customer care centre, and 20 others across Gurgaon, Mumbai and Bangalore. The leadership team sits in Gurgaon.

Many new eCommerce companies are threatening to go app-only. Is the Web on the decline?

Worldwide, the internet is growing at about 14–15 per cent. In India, it is growing at about 26 per cent. If you look at the number of domains or the number of websites coming up, the numbers are not coming down, and that is where we draw our confidence from.

I don’t think anybody serious about the internet has a choice than to create their own websites.  Let’s say you are selling phones in an online marketplace. There are thousands of merchants selling phones listed in the same marketplace, and coming up for the same search queries. So the only way to differentiate yourself would be to run your own domain, brand yourself well, and add value by customising the customer experience. This creates the need for the solutions and products that we sell.

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