In the previous Blog, we covered the evolution of eCommerce in India and the problems they had to face during the early stages. Though the problems were not many but it was difficult to solve. Several startup companies came and closed within a year. According to a data, most of the companies shut down within the first year of its establishment. The ones which survive the first three years have good chance of making it large. So far we heard about the problems, but the more interesting part of the story is the way these companies solved their problems, crossed the hurdles and ruled this industry. They have not only grown themselves as a company but have also given strength, vision and tactics to follow their ideas and launch themselves.
We have tried to cover most of the points that played a significant part in crossing the hurdles for eCommerce in India.
- The first problem of less number of target audience was not in their hands. They had to be patient. It eventually paid off because India is a developing nation and with the growth of the digital market and IT sector decent number of people were moving towards the internet. Even though some people who were not much dependent on internet started to become more aware of the business through eCommerce in India. This gave the companies in this sector a big boost. As a result,they had a base where they could build their business, and they knew that they had a chance to showcase to people what they were all about, what they want to offer. Building a target audience varies from company to company. Some came out with flying colors and some failed miserably.
- The trust issue was a big obstacle for the companies and one of the most difficult to solve. People were still very scared of using their credit cards to shop online. Bring all users to a point where they have started trusting websites to such an extent where they save the credit card details as well.
- It was a continuous problem i.e. if one brand or company did not provide a good service/product, people use to generalize their views about all other brands as well. The problem is now solved because the whole ecosystem of eCommerce in India has managed to solve the issue of trust and belief individually and as well as a group.
The best initiative or I would say tactic that helped the brands to build more trust was giving the consumers the option of “CASH ON DELIVERY”. Consequently the users got the choice of seeing the product before paying for it online. They were being assured that their money is not going into the wrong hands. This option benefited the industry a lot in increasing the user base. The thought of the money being put on risk was completely removed by the companies.
The next big step that transformed the eCommerce in India was the option of “RETURN IN 30 DAYS” or even “same day delivery”. This option means that you use the product and if you don’t like it or want to exchange it, you can easily do it within 30 days. This was not that step that companies took because sometimes the exchanged products were used a lot or minutely damaged. But, still persistence has surely paid off for them and currently customers just love this option.
The way companies have eventually made the Indian public believe that their credit card details which they share on the web are safe is commendable.
- Companies built their user base, people started buying their product but what about the Delivery and customer support which was still not as quick and responsive as it was supposed to be. Here the business of logistic played a big role. This requirement of good logistic management actually has led to people studying logistic management as their core subject. Lot of logistic companies evolved eventually which helped providing quick service. Initially the companies took sometimes to understand the way it should work but soon they figured the right path. There were mistakes in delivery, may be wrong product delivered to wrong person, packaging problem, delivery or pick up time problems, but eventually with better communication and involvement of more number workers in it , all these issues were solved.
Customer support which is one of the major lifeline of this industry was not that mature. It was still in a growing phase. People found very tough to reach the representatives to know more about the product they have ordered. If the answer was not prompt it could lead to losing one customer. For eg- Flipkart had only two customer support people for the first few years and they were the owners of the company themselves. With the involvement of more number of people and specific team to take care of the customer support the problem was solved.
- Companies which wanted to leave a mark on eCommerce in India soon realized a fact that you will not be able to sell products above a certain price range to people. They understood the sentiments of Indian public which wanted good products but at a decent price. If they found a place where they will something similar at a cheaper price they will surely go for that. Here the concept of providing those discounts played a crucial role. Companies went on a price war with the offline market and eventually were giving the products and services at a rate which was far less than what offline market was offering.
We can see the example from Flipkarts recent Big Billion day sale which was in controversy for many reasons. Some people were very happy some were not. It was a mixed reaction. But, the point is even next time when Flipkart launches same thing, people will surely go for it because they will get good product at a price that they have never thought of.
Companies understood that in India it is not profitable to look for big margin with small customer base, it is important to have bigger customer base with smaller margins.
- The problem of users not finding the websites easy to operate or browse is a problem that still sticks to the companies. But, now the level is higher and demand is more complex. Eventually companies hired professionals or gave contracts to agencies who could build a website which is simple and easy to operate. But, eventually, this demand has changed in a big way. Now the requirement is user friendly along with a feel that can actually grab attention of user. Better positioning of each product, better display of their products, the positioning of the offers that they are providing etc. The modification and ease that has entered the payment gateway part is remarkable. It actually helps user to pay easily and get all information about their product delivery at the end.
- Lack of interaction between the companies was actually one of the major problems that had stayed till almost 2008. This was the time when digital marketing platforms like social media actually started grow in India. Eventually it has led to a situation where the presence of a brand on social media has actually become a compulsion for them to grow their business. It has actually helped to bridge the gap between the buyer and the seller. It has given the authority and a medium to the users to express their good and bad experiences about any product. It eventually helps the whole business and also the public. It helps the consumer to get better product next and the business to learn from their mistakes and provide better experience to the user. Now, the companies have special social media management teams which actually help their respective companies to market their products on these website and also interact with the customers. Currently, this medium of digital marketing is growing immensely and providing a big boost to eCommerce in India. Advertising has gained new meaning altogether. Marketers have understood how to connect with the audience.
- Providing large number of option and variety of products at the same place has actually made the customers life very simple. We are very tired of running through a heavy traffic, choosing the stuff we need by standing in the huge crowd and then negotiating with the seller. Next problem that customer used to face is the most difficult one, it was to carry all the shopping bags back home.
- All the companies have started building applications for their business. These application basically are created to engage more number of users as we all know that the number of people browsing via the mobile are far more. This helps the users also because it makes their job easier and shopping experience far better and convenient.
- The growth of digital marketing in all the sectors especially in the online business has benefited this eCommerce in India a lot. Currently, all business are practicing different digital marketing strategies starting from SEO, Data mining via Web Analytics , social media marketing , retargeting, Adword campaigning etc. Wise use of these strategies actually creates the difference between the best and the rest.
- The increase of investment required in brick and mortar stores for business has also led to the increase in the movement of the sellers towards online platform. Sellers actually realized that on the online platform they don’t have to pay rent, no electricity bill, no maintenance etc. The online store had a far better reach as compared to number of users were concerned which directly meant more chances of selling their products. This is one of the main reasons in the growth of online sellers. The sellers also understood the fact eventually – why to pay extra money for less value output. It is better for them to move in the same direction their customers are moving.
eCommerce in India has been able to diminish all these problems. We were able to buy and browse through any number of products at the same website itself. Even comparing the price with other stores became so easy that only typing the website address was more than enough. We just have to just select the product which we want to buy and give the delivery address and our product will be at our doorstep. This solved our basic needs and in fact helps us to save our time, energy and most importantly money which we waste in the offline shopping.
In the two blogs regarding eCommerce in India we have covered everything from history to problems faced by businesses and to the way they have been able to solve the current issues. In the next blog we will be talking about the most important topic i.e. future of eCommerce in India. We will surely have some views of the eCommerce bigshots included in that.