ecom­merce

The Smart Manager - - Contents Jan- Feb 2019 - Chai­tanya Ra­ma­linge­gowda, co-founder, Wak­e­fit.co 01 https://www.ibef.org/in­dus­try/re­tail-in­dia.aspx 02 https://www.ex­port.gov/ar­ti­cle?id=In­dia-e-Com­merce

From the early days of In­di­aPlaza to the heady growth and fund­ing days of Flip­kart, Snapdeal, and other star­tups, to the buy­out of Flip­kart by Wal­mart for a mam­moth $16 bil­lion, ecom­merce in In­dia has come full cir­cle. Still, this is only the be­gin­ning for or­ga­nized re­tail in gen­eral and ecom­merce in par­tic­u­lar. There is a long jour­ney of growth and con­sol­i­da­tion ahead. As per IBEF, the re­tail sec­tor is ex­pected to in­crease by 60 per­cent to reach $1 tril­lion by 2020.1 Fur­ther, In­dian ecom­merce sec­tor is ex­pected to sur­pass the US to be­come the sec­ond largest mar­ket in the world, by reach­ing $64 bil­lion by 2020 from the $38.5 bil­lion in 2017.2

From the ba­sic ex­pec­ta­tion of dis­cov­er­ing, or­der­ing, and get­ting a trusted, high-qual­ity prod­uct, con­sumers have evolved to hav­ing high ex­pec­ta­tions from ecom­merce play­ers in In­dia. This evo­lu­tion has been fu­eled by huge in­vest­ments by in­cum­bents in ed­u­cat­ing the con­sumer. They have also set up the in­fras­truc­ture to sup­port these ex­pec­ta­tions. In the com­ing years, the in­dus­try has to evolve rapidly to stay ahead of the ex­pec­ta­tion curve of the con­sumers, by lever­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy, data, and op­er­a­tional ef­fi­cien­cies. Here are some trends that we fore­see in this space in the com­ing year.

per­son­al­ize, but pro­tect my pri­vacy

Cus­tomers want a highly per­son­al­ized ex­pe­ri­ence for them­selves when they em­bark on the jour­ney of mak­ing an on­line pur­chase, but with­out vi­o­la­tion of their pri­vacy. Ecom­merce com­pa­nies have to tread a fine line while bal­anc­ing per­mis­sion, mar­ket­ing, pri­vacy, and busi­ness out­comes in their quest to de­liver cus­tomer de­light. This will also im­ply ef­fec­tive us­age of cus­tomer data and lever­ag­ing it to de­liver great prod­uct search, seam­less de­liv­ery ex­pe­ri­ence, and rapid ful­fill­ment.

de­liver quickly and cor­rectly

Ir­re­spec­tive of the na­ture of the prod­uct—bulky or light, fash­ion or util­ity, stan­dard­ized or cus­tom­ized—cus­tomers are im­pa­tient to re­ceive their prod­uct. There is an ex­pec­ta­tion (and rightly so) that the prod­uct will be de­liv­ered quickly and they can start us­ing it. This re­quires in­vest­ment in cre­at­ing ful­fill­ment cen­ters close to cus­tomer hubs, data an­a­lyt­ics to guide the right kind of in­ven­tory stock­ing, and also ex­cep­tional qual­ity pro­cesses in or­der man­age­ment.

help me try it out first

Cus­tomers have come to ex­pect world-class trial poli­cies in In­dia as they be­come more com­fort­able shop­ping on­line, and also have higher ex­po­sure to global poli­cies and trends. Tri­als could fall any­where in the spec­trum—sim­ple low-tech so­lu­tions such as an in-home trial for a pe­riod after pur­chase, to a com­plex tech-en­abled aug­mented re­al­ity vi­su­al­iza­tion to see how a prod­uct looks or be­haves. But tri­als will be­come more ad­vanced and more preva­lent across dif­fer­ent prod­uct cat­e­gories.

I have seen hor­i­zon­tal, give me ver­ti­cal

If the first wave of ecom­merce saw the emer­gence of hor­i­zon­tal ecom­merce be­he­moths that sell ev­ery­thing from salt to wash­ing ma­chines, the next wave will see the emer­gence of ver­ti­cal ecom­merce com­pa­nies that will spe­cial­ize and sell in spe­cific cat­e­gories. These are go­ing to be in prod­uct cat­e­gories where there is no pow­er­ful on­line brand, prod­ucts which are not stan­dard­ized, and which are ex­pe­ri­en­tial. Here, cus­tomers would like to talk to ex­perts. Hor­i­zon­tal play­ers, who lack fo­cus, will be un­suited for these cat­e­gories and hence, be shunned by this group of cus­tomers.

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