The Electronic Retailing Association

INDIA Report: ERA Global visit to the subcontinent between two poles

by Neeraj Dhingra and Dr. Julian Oberndörfer

(Left )Dr. Julian Oberndörfer, CEO ERA Global meeting up with (Right) Neeraj Dhingra, an experienced international business leader who is working with ERA Global to help expand to India.

Last November ERA Global visited a sleeping giant. Only the 7th largest by surface area but the 2nd highest in terms of population. Approximately 1.4 billion people live in India and some experts predict India to become the number three global economy after the US and China.

The Retail Market in India

The retail market in India is projected to grow from an estimated US$ 672 billion in 2017 to US$ 1,200 billion in 2021. Online retail sales are forecast to grow at the rate of 31% year-on-year. India is expected to become the world’s fastest growing e-commerce market, driven by robust investment in the sector and rapid increase in the number of internet users. Various agencies have high expectations about the growth of Indian e-commerce markets. The Government of India has allowed 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in online retail of goods and services through the automatic route, thereby providing clarity on the existing businesses of e-commerce companies operating in India.

Neeraj Dhingra, Director at VANN INTERNATIONAL LTD. a business consulting and distribution company, and former CEO for Europe of Zee Entertainment Enterprises

Neeraj is an international business leader with extensive experience in Consumer, Media and Durables Industries overseeing Sales, Distribution, Marketing, Digital business and Partner Development. During his career, he has been based in UK, Belgium, India and Dubai. Neeraj has excelled in setting up new businesses/brands in multiple geographies and leading acquisitions of companies. Managed Media business, Global Distribution and Product Strategy for brands based on market trends and consumer insights. Currently Director at VANN INTERNATIONAL LTD, a Business Consultancy and a distribution company working with ERA to help expand to India, Neeraj also represents Wonderchef, the leading brand of Cookware and Electrical Appliances from India in the UK and Europe.

From 2013-2018, Neeraj was CEO for Europe of Zee Entertainment Enterprises, one of the largest media companies globally, from India with presence in 173 countries reaching over 1.3 billion viewers. He set up Zee One - the new free to air German language Bollywood channel in Germany, managed five Hindi language channels and the OTT business in Europe, and acquired and managed two channels in Russia. Prior to this, Neeraj was CEO of Carlton Travel Goods Ltd until 2012 having acquired the company in 2004 on behalf of VIP Industries Ltd, India and managed overall operations and the brand worldwide. Neeraj has an MBA from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade and his background is in Mechanical Engineering.

An opportune time for the current teleshopping players

The current government, under PM Narendra Modi, implemented harsh but necessary reforms to the economic system which intended to bring mid-term sustainable growth but led to short term disruption and decline for the Indian middle-class consumer.  This also led to some upheaval in the teleshopping industry in India and several players went out of business. However, the current economic growth seems stronger than the one in China, the middle class is steadily growing - so it’s an opportune time for the current teleshopping players. The e-commerce platforms in India like Flipkart (now owned by Walmart) and Amazon are thriving and growing exponentially in the last few years, with the brand new Jiomart starting operations in 2020.

EZMall, the home shopping activities of the ESSEL Group

Whilst the majority of large businesses in India are headquartered in Mumbai, Noida, (short for the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority), a satellite city of Delhi, is the home to EZmall, the home shopping activities of the ESSEL Group, one of India largest media groups. This platform was launched by Amit Bansal in 2017 with the backing of the Essel Group and operates across categories like Apparel, Home, Kitchen, Cleaning products, etc. We met with Amit on this trip and discussed his plans for the future. There is a need for large investment in the sector and this could also come from overseas players wanting a piece of the pie of the extremely attractive Indian market. EZmall is focussing on video content and curating its products for the highly-discerning Indian market. They intend to go into regional languages as a majority of their target audience lives in small towns. EZmall is located in the very large complex of Zee Entertainment with their Dish Playout services, Dish and Siticable, the country’s largest Satellite and Cable platforms and Zee News offices in the same location.

Naaptol is the largest Home Shopping player in India

Mumbai is the Indian centre of finance and business and home to Naaptol, the largest Home Shopping player in India focussing on video-commerce on TV and online. This company was founded by Manu Agarwal in 2008 who is the CEO. We met with Manu and his team including a senior representative of Mitsui of Japan who are the company’s largest external investors. Naaptol has 6 24x7 live shopping channels in India in as many languages. The group also runs two Bollywood channels.

Manu mentioned that they receive over 100,000 calls per day and their product range comprises of Home & Kitchen, Electronics and Fashion. We had the chance to witness the production of a live show – which showcased attractive products for the target consumer in a local environment with a highly passionate host. Having 3 in-house studios helps drastically cut the costs of programming while giving the company flexibility to switch content frequently based on sales.


We are pleased to start our interactions with major Indian players including Manuj Goyal of Indology who attended our 2019 annual event in Budapest. And we look forward to welcoming them at our upcoming events to make them members of our global community.