as a revenue stream - the Sulekha.com way
Chennai, Feb 17 (IANS) Getting a tip from a satisfied guest
is an assured source of income for a hotel employee, but can
a corporate firm make tips a revenue stream? That is what
Sulekha.com is trying to do.
The Chennai-based company has started requesting 'service
tips' from free classifieds advertisers on its social networking
and classifieds ad portal www.sulekha.com.
When people putting up classified ads take them off once they
have made their sale, they can tip Rs.250 to Rs.1,000 "if
they are happy with the sulekha.com platform". Anybody
can post classified ads on sulekha.com free of cost or for
low rates (up to Rs.500), depending on the category.
As compared to the free classifieds, the paid listings will
be displayed on the top of the website and Sulekha may also
give business leads to the advertisers.
"We feel the site has built a critical mass of satisfied
users. On a pilot basis we are studying the response from
the users to pay for the service platform offered by us. Based
on the response, we may charge for all listings," Sulekha
president and chief executive Satya Prabhakar told IANS.
Company chairman Param Parameswaran said the decision was
not because of any financial pressure.
"There is no financial pressure on the company. The decision
to test the users' willingness to pay is based on the business
concept - build a critical mass and price the service,"
Sulekha derives the bulk of its revenue from small and medium
enterprise (SME) display advertisements and a decent portion
from paid listings.
Both officials do not think that requesting a service tip
would negatively impact the image of the portal.
"There is no compulsion on the part of the user to pay.
He has the option not to pay. Perhaps, one can inform about
the option to pay if satisfied at the time of posting the
ad," Prabhakar said.
Till date around 50 people have paid a service tip.
V. Ganesh, associate vice-president of IT services company
Bahwan CyberTek Ltd, told IANS: "I found a house for
rent through sulekha.com and saved around Rs.14,000 as broker
commission. Paying Rs.250 to Sulekha is no big deal."
While the per transaction fee may seem small, Sulekha is expecting
to generate huge revenue from tips.
Consider the numbers. At an average, around 50,000 classified
ads are posted on the portal every month and around 60 percent
of the advertisers take off their ads once the job is done.
The portal's buy and sell section gets around 10,000 ads that
result in around 100,000 interactions and 6,000 transactions,
valued around Rs.20 million.
The tip can be paid online through credit or debit cards.
Sulekha is also planning to tie up with a third party for
collecting the tips if paid through cheques.
The firm is planning to acquire a niche player in the classified
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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