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It has really been an interesting and successful economic journey for the Indian Retail Industry from being titled as the “Fragile Five” (a term coined by Morgan Stanley) in 2013 to become one of the most favored investment destinations in 2017. The UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2017 stated India will be behind only the U.S. and China in terms of investment attractiveness over the next two years, making it among the top three most attractive investment destinations in the world.
E-retailing has taken the world of retail by storm and captivated the imagination of an entire generation of entrepreneurs, with e-commerce ventures of various business and commercial models. The essence of e-commerce is in its ability to surpass physical boundaries and reach customers to their doorstep which makes it way too different from the traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
The Relevance of Online Shopping in India
With 70-80% accessing the Internet through smartphones and over 580 million people using the same through another devices, the Indian e-retail industry is soaring higher than ever. The dissemination and easy availability of smartphones has made this an achievable target. E-tailing in India is predicted to experience a massive growth, with projections to jump from around 16 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 to just over 45 billion U.S. dollars in 2021with the increasing demand of the smartphones. In 2016, Amazon.in was the leading online store in India with net e-commerce sales of 437.7 billion U.S. dollars, followed by local competitors Flipkart and Snapdeal.
It is predicted that 2018 will be another milestone year for the e-commerce industry. The current push of e-transactions & hyper local attention will give a fair chance to the Industry for a matured growth & widen the customer reach & a sustainable profit & revenue growth.
Rural E-commerce: A Promising Future
It is revealed that almost half of all Indian internet users will be from the rural areas in 2020. The adoption of e-commerce activities in rural India is still quite less at present. An estimate of 15% of connected users in rural India use internet either to research a product, purchase a product, or submit a product review online, according to the report.
Internet was limited to mostly the urban population in India earlier. However, the user base is now both expanding and diversifying as Internet is spreading its hands to the rural areas also.
The Digital India campaign initiated by the Prime Minister aims to connect the villages with broadband internet. It has become obvious that E-Commerce firms are striving to bank on India’s rural market in cooperation with the government’s Digital India initiative. Examples are cited by Flipkart, Snapdeal, Infibeam and Paytm by signing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government to reach rural areas and villages.
Trends that will Shape India’s E-commerce in 2018
With the increased adoption of smartphones and tablets, the e-commerce landscape has seen a drastic shift across the world. Online brands are also leveraging advanced technological innovations such as augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, analytics and many more to keep up with the changing customer expectations. Some of the key trends that will impact Indian e-tailing in 2018 are mentioned below:
Many retailers will start to adopt the convenient and 24/7 available artificial intelligence miracle Chatbots, for managing customer service queries and providing intelligent purchase recommendations. Customers will comfortably interact with Chatbots as they browse through the online stores, which will provide a real life experience of shopping in a physical store. These virtual assistants will make ecommerce a truly interesting sector with its evolution
Smarter Customer Journey
The future of retail will indeed be more personalized with the rise of smart and well-informed shoppers. Instead of focusing on everyone’s buying habits, brands will work towards individualized recommendations based on shopper’s individual preferences. Cash on Delivery will be replaced with the digital payment. With AR and VR gaining ground, the customer will be able to browse infinite digital shops worldwide.
New Categories will emerge
The Indian e-commerce market has experienced an emergence of newer categories like fashion, food and groceries. Niche sites such as Nykaa or BigBasket have shown that grabbing a sizeable chunk of one specific market can be proved to be more successful than trying to snatch the whole pie. Looking at these emergences and successful ventures, new entrepreneurs will create, capture and dominate more such categories.
Consumers expect solutions that outfit their unique interests and requirements. In order to understand the customer requirements, businesses rely on predictive data technology which will be the norm in 2018.
The Way Forward
This phenomenal growth of the e-commerce is accompanied by some challenges like absence of e-Commerce laws, rapidly changing business models, urban phenomenon, and shortage of manpower and customer loyalty. However, despite all the hindrances the e-Commerce or virtual shopping is all set to fuel billions of digital dreams in near future with its phenomenal growth and opportunities.
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