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Change Expected In Classifieds Industry Through Technology

The online classifieds marketplace has enabled an ecosystem where buyers & sellers are both beneficiaries of better cost, convenience and environment at large

About 100 years back classifieds trade was predominantly a flea marketplace. Flea markets for more than a century were primary source of buying & selling for people. Technology intervention in form of print classifieds changed the way trade took place from 1950s to 1990s. Online classifieds have its origins in the USA in early 1990s. At the time when internet usage had started becoming more popular, Craigslist leveraged the desktop technology in the 90s to early 2000 and remained the most popular online classifieds website of that era. OLX entered the emerging markets in 2006 as a digital classifieds player, at a time when internet technology started becoming mainstream with increasing mobile penetration. OLX took the desktop experience to the next level by integrating with mobile web and now with app first. Today, 90 per cent of traffic on OLX comes through mobile in most of the countries especially in India.

As the market evolved over these years it has become manifest that the currency of the new economy is trust and, through technology, a marketplace for things that have never had an incremental value has been established. The online classifieds marketplace has enabled an ecosystem where buyers & sellers are both beneficiaries of better cost, convenience and environment at large.

As we can see clearly from the history of classifieds that technology has been a huge disruptor as well as path breaking to define the core user experience. Technology will be pivotal to the growth of digital classifieds in future, to enable scale and enhance economic impact. We believe mobile will be the growth driver for adoption of classifieds among the masses in India. It is only making things more efficient, more convenient in helping unlock the idle capacity of product and services in various capacities.

We were the first player in the industry to take the mobile experience to the next level. In 2016 some major technology innovations were introduced which disrupted the classifieds experience on mobile. First, Mandatory registration of all users - buyers and sellers- that helps create a safer environment for transacting. Second, features such as 'Chat First' with restrictions on calling builds trustworthiness of platforms. Third, Hyper-local search, allowing users to see products closest to them, to provide an authentic hyper-local classifieds experience based on ease and simplicity. Fourth, AI (Artificial Intelligence) features such as image recognition for products, demonstrated how technology can be used to provide a superlative UI experience.

Next few years will be exciting for the classifieds industry. Some of the key trends that will further improve the markets are - A) Big Data will grow bigger. In 2017 we see role of Big data to not only scale up business performance and enhance user experience but help in personalization of the platform. B) Mobile- Personalisation- Brands will start embracing mobile-personalisation approach. Personalisation goes a long way in building relationships with your customers by creating valuable experiences for them. C) Technology Improvements in form of Artificial Intelligence, Voice Recognition, Image Recognition, Digital Payment integration will all become mainstream in the year to come. It will be indispensable for brands to embrace the change and lead with innovation to offer the best experience to users. As it is rightly said in words of Clay Christensen, renowned author of The Innovator's Dilemma, "Disruptive Innovation can hurt, if you are not the one doing the disrupting".

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Amarjit Singh Batra

The author is CEO, OLX India

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