How India is Ushering in Festivities the E-commerce Way Amid speculations of social media hype by participating e-stores, this sales season will outdo last year's by 60%
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It is that time of the year again! A certain nip affirms the arrival of the festive season celebrated with utmost opulence! As India gets high on joie de vivre in the month-long festivities, the e-commerce industry is all set to make most of the annual peak season.
As big discount wars are on among e-commerce giants to lure customers, diverse views and opinion are making rounds. On one hand, there is speculation on the absence of social media hype by the participating e-stores, on the other hand, it has been predicted that this sale season will outdo last year's by almost 60%.
What are the e-commerce platforms doing to battle the fierce competition, acquire new customers and retain the old ones? Entrepreneur India got in touch with the industry players, giants and fledglings, to access and understand the new trends in shopping among the Indian consumers.
While some e-commerce giants are launching their shopping festivals earlier than usual, the new ones are encouraging customers to download apps with free download credits. Special Diwali pages with products, which can be used during Diwali, are also a rage this season.
According to Manu Agarwal, Founder of Naaptol, the e-commerce giant, there is a generic upturn in the buying behavior of consumers during the pre-festive period, as customers want to finish their shopping before the festivals approach.
Vishwavijay Singh, Co-Founder, SaleBhai.com, cited a different reason for the upturn. "Customer buying had been held up because of GST implementation. While August had seen slow progress, September saw complete revival of consumer interest. Customer sentiment is quite positive and we are hoping for a bumper season this time," he opined.
Sunil Gupta, Founder, ExportersIndia.com, however, is not buying any of it. "The general perception from various quarters is that expectations are not very encouraging as reports show a sharp decline in consumer expectations in both urban and rural areas," he stressed.
Of Tempora and Mores
The platforms are generating revenues from different segments as demands vary from one to another. For Naptol, it is the home and kitchen improvement category which is topping the charts, followed by electronics and mobile. For Salebhai, it is usually food, but ahead of Diwali they are witnessing an overwhelming sale of dry fruits and gift items. Clothes, food, and jewelery are topping the charts for ExportersIndia.com.
MehulJobanputra, CEO and Co-founder, DesiDime.com, shared, "This year we have witnessed e-commerce giants indulging in price wars not across categories but on popular products like iPhone 7, Macbook Air. Paytm was offering 100% cashback to first 25 mobile phone buyers, and also cashback in the form of monthly electricity bill payments on ACs. Myntra was offering discount for next three months to customers shopping in bulk. No cost EMI was also pushed aggressively this year by both Amazon India and Flipkart."
As the impact of GST continue to affect business in all segments, does the e-commerce industry see any change in trends. Not if you ask Agarwal of Naptol. "GST hasn't affected the orders at all as the prices of products available on Naaptol platform have not changed," he affirmed. Singh seconded the views stating, "People have somewhat got used to the norms, we in fact see a positive impact of GST on sales."
Gupta of Exportersindia.com had already informed their members to update their GST Number in company details so that the entire buy and sale process can run smoothly. Our registered members have been updating the same to handle the GST transition.
Times They Are a-changin
The e-commerce platforms being all the rage in shopping space, are the traditional shoppers changing behavior? What does the trends say? A survey done by DesiDime.com, an online shopping community, revealed that 80% of shoppers plan to do more than half of their Diwali shopping online this year.
The survey revealed that close to 65% people will be wrapping up their shopping 15 days before Diwali, and around a quarter of shoppers will be doing almost all of their Diwali shopping online.
A very interesting piece of information revealed by the survey is that majority of the shoppers — 74.41 % — now shop online more than they do in physical stores. Majority of the shoppers are planning to spend around INR16,200 on an average, with 16% of them willing to spend anywhere between INR 20,000 and INR 50,000 this festive season.
According to Singh, of SaleBhai.com, consumers are increasingly becoming confident on buying online. "Convenience and aggressive promotions are luring more customers to online purchase. We are adding 20,000 new customers every month, this is again an indicator that the online purchase trend continues to be strong," he shared.
Small Towns Emerging as New Markets for Portals
The growth and prevalence of SMEs has been generally recorded in Tier I and II cities, though the trend is now slowly shifting towards Tier III and IV cities as well. The increasing business opportunities has set off investment in small businesses with Tier III and IV cities paying way to development in these regions at an unprecedented rate. This has led to a lot of emphasis to the consumers of T-I and II cities towards e-commerce.
How are the buyers responding to the new ways of shopping? Are they meeting the expectations of the online shopping platforms this season?
Agarwal of Naaptol, which has reached deep in the sub-urban and rural markets along with Metros and Tier 1 cities, said, "rural consumer is evolving, their consumption patterns are increasingly changing and they are aspiring to purchase high quality products; they have unique consumption pattern, tastes and need. Also, in rural areas the family incomes are grossly underestimated." "During the Naaptol Shopping Festival, we have seen good number of orders pouring in from Tier 2 and beyond along with Metros," he added.
Singh of Salebhai, a platform providing things that one misses from his/her hometown, is focused to cater to the needs of the migrant population hence metros are his biggest markets. "We are also witnessing a trend where people from Tier 1 & Tier 2 cities are going for products which they don't find in their city, they are also trying out products from other regions," he divulged.
"Listings, traffics and queries are gradually crossing the demographic barriers and we feel that in future the specialties of local produce would reach the global market without much ado,"agreed Gupta of ExportersIndia.com.