India’s shifting online and breakneck speed and with it are the consumer markets! E-commerce is all set to see a major rise in India. Though the penetration of e-commerce is low, unlike the United States and the United Kingdom, the growth rate is much faster with a large number of new entrants. This makes Investors, entrepreneurs and thought leaders very optimistic about the Indian internet economy despite the current economic slowdown.
Who would have every imagined a few years ago that buying products like books, fashion wear, sports equipments or even something specific like seeking health advice online was possible on the internet. E-commerce has indeed made many lives simpler ( mine to start with!). The unique factor in India is that the retail distribution has traditionally been present in metros and not so much in tier two and tier three cities. So if you are living in a small town away from the biggest city in your state you would find it hard to find exclusive handbags, accessories, big brand clothes and other equipment that your cousin in the big city has easy access to. E-commerce has paved the way for increasing transactions from these cities.
Flipkart is one such company which is doing something different in India by solving multiple logistical problems. Suppose you need to buy a book in Delhi, you will need to scan through 20 bookshops to find the right one as no one big bookshop will have it. This is where these kind of companies are required; help people get things they couldn’t otherwise get traditionally and that to at lesser prices!.
According to a study by Dataquest, among the list of the “20 hottest e-commerce start-ups”, group buying sites, discounted fashion brand retailers and special online stores come at the top.
What makes India an exciting market?
Seeing the huge business opportunity here, many players will try and enter the already crowded market. But then, there is always going to be a market for specific items. Many sites are adapting models which suit the needs of Indians. For example: buy two-return one for shoes, pay on delivery, create your own design for t-shirts and perfumes and other imported goods. Another example is buying lingerie online. Buying it offline is not easy as usually people want to do it in privacy. This opens the opportunity to acquire such items online. So the future will see specific companies addressing specific needs for particular customers in specific locations. Many different types of business models will thus emerge in India, unlike the Western countries. But then, not all are here to stay. Gradually there is bound to be shake ups and many companies would leave the scene. Only time will tell.
As mentioned earlier, the distinctive aspects of e-commerce in India include ‘Cash on Delivery’ as a preferred payment method. The vibrant cash economy in India and Indian consumer physique of getting satisfaction of paying only after you see and feel what you’ve bought has ensured 80% of Indian e-commerce is through the Cash on Delivery mechanism. Apart from online merchandise sales, airline ticketing is also a major area of e-commerce. Other areas include direct imports As demand for international consumer products is rising faster than for indigenous products.
What is India without Bollywood, cricket and celebrities? Celebrities from these various fields are also hooked on this emerging e-commerce market and ready to pounce on any opportunity to be involved in it somehow. Actors like Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan, Karishma Kapoor as well as cricketers like Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh have already associated themselves with the e-commerce platform to exploit it to the maximum. Tennis Ace Mahesh Bhupati also recently started his own online site, www.sports365.in to sell sports goods.
- India has a long way to go in terms of internet usage. China has more than 400 million users online. Currently, India has the third largest number of internet users today with more than 120 million users. But having more than a billion people in population, it shows that we’re still quite far behind.
- Broadband penetration and transactions are pretty low in the country. Payment methods are difficult and credit card usage is also very less. But the future looks bright.
- Youtube is an exciting market, with India being one of the leading online video viewers. India is yet to exploit its marketing opportunities fully.
- Language customization, like using Hindi or Urdu to write mails, watch Youtube or using translation tools to translate pages, hasn’t really taken off in India. All e-commerce companies in India are currently in English.
- Wireless services and mobile experiments are yet to emerge in a big way, despite being a huge market.
More innovation is bound to come in with the rapid inflow of information. With many Indians already working in companies like Microsoft, Facebook and Google, experts say that the next Microsoft, Google or Facebook could emerge from India by Indians starting a revolution of such sorts.