Indian e-commerce has seen a phenomenal success in drawing both, metropolitan and tier-2 city shoppers online. This growth is only going to take more leaps and bounds in the coming years. According to a report by Google and A.T. Kearney, e-tailing will drive 25 percent of the total organized retail sales in India by 2020 at $60 billion. Based on comprehensive market study, the total number of online shoppers will reach 175 million by 2020.
Despite of splurging on discounts, promotional advertisements and a galore of funds, the biggest challenge for companies in the ecommerce space is “cost of customer acquisitions.” Investors have strongly shown their resentment on companies spending VC money on customer acquisitions. At an event organized by Google and A.T.Kearney, Ajay Gupta, partner at the management consulting firm, stated some of the steps that ecommerce companies could take to draw more customers online. The following are some excerpts from Ajay’s talk at the event.
- Will I Really get what I want? – This is one of the key concerns that consumers have when they shop online, especially in the case of apparels and furniture. Having brick and mortar trial stores along with online stores have helped some companies overcome this situation. Today, companies like Zivame, Lenskart, Pepperfry and others have brick and mortar stores where customers could get a feel of the product in reality before buying them.
- Salesman guidance – A brick and mortar store could also solve the problem of expertise opinion and guidance. Especially in the case of complex items such as gadgets and heavy electronics, consumers desperately seek expert advice online before buying.
- Talk beyond discounts – It’s not always about sales and offers. The study suggests that most consumers are willing to buy online even in the absence of grand discount schemes. Instead of discounts, the seek benefits such as ability to select a delivery slot, warranty, faster delivery, easy exchange offers and payment feasibility.
- Understand consumer psyche – Ajay suggested that ecommerce companies should implement more technology in understanding the customer’s mind. For instance, if he/she is buying a ring, the website could probably suggest items based on his choice, like jewellery, flowers and other things. Understanding what the consumer needs to buy next will help companies retain customers.
- Allow offline and online shopping – Enable consumers to work through their shopping lists offline. Even today, a lot of Indian consumers don’t have the access to the best of smartphones and internet connectivity. Enabling them to select items and adding them to the basket offline and making the payments once they go online will bring those consumers online who have limited access to the internet.
- Omni-channel presence is the key – Providing both offline stores and online experience will help increasing the number of customers buying furnishing, lifestyle and apparels products. It will give them an opportunity to get the actual feel of the product prior to buying them.
Adding to these points, Rajan Anandan, VP & Managing Director, Google SEA & India, said that the next three or four years will be critical to get on the path of sustained profitability. Innovative delivery models and creating omni-channel presence will help bring new customers online.