E-commerce on the rise
E-commerce has been one of fastest growing sectors in the Indian economy in 2014. Major players have reworked their strategies by evolving their business models, developing aggressive marketing plans and investing in R&D to overcome challenges. These incredible changes in the growth of the e-commerce sector have made experts the world over sit up and take notice of the current scenario.
Giants such as Alibaba’s Jack Ma and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos have invested in several Indian companies as they believe in the growth of e-commerce in the country. We will continue to see further investments this year as well. In addition to these investments, we can also expect to come across several mergers and acquisitions. It is already expected that Amazon will close out an acquisition of Jabong in the next few months.
Focus on consumer service
Much of the new money coming into e-commerce will be dedicated towards improving customer service. We will continue to see shopping festivals and huge discounts but customer support is also a pertinent aspect that we can expect to improve this year. After the negative backlash from last year’s Big Billion Day, Flipkart has learnt the hard way and others have also woken up to the fact that customer service, perception and trust cannot be compromised with at any cost.
Quick delivery to put pressure on logistics
This focus on customer means that e-commerce brands will fight a battle that goes beyond discounts. Express delivery in one aspect that we can expect to play a pivotal role in attracting customers.
Major players like Flipkart and Amazon are already offering same day and next day delivery, but this is not enough. Flipkart has already announced its plans to offer three-hour delivery in select cities in coming months. Even JustDial and The Mobile Store have gone ahead with their initiatives to deliver goods within seven and four hours, respectively. These improvements will definitely put a lot of pressure on the logistics arms of these companies and there may be a few growing pains. But nonetheless, the end result will be a happier customer and a fatter topline.
Further, faster delivery will reduce the advantage offline retailers have when it comes to instant gratification. When a customer needs or wants a product immediately, s/he must visit a brick and mortar retailer. But with a three-hour delivery period, the e-commerce retailer is coming pretty close to instant gratification.
More tie-ups in the offing
This year will also see more exclusive tie-ups between e-commerce sites and major consumer brands. If last year we saw OnePlus One and Xiaomi tie-up with Amazon and Flipkart, respectively, this year we will see many more such offerings from other sites as well. The situation is a win-win for both the parties. The e-commerce site gains attention from the buzz around the product launch and gives customers a reason to buy from them rather than another site. The consumer brand also gains because the e-commerce site invests heavily into promotion of the product in return for the exclusivity.
And one cannot ignore the pivotal role that will be played by mobile commerce in the days to come. The number of online mobile users in India has exploded and will continue to grow with the advent of cheap smartphones. This year, their focus will be around converting these users into repeat customers.
Consumers’ happiness foremost
In a nutshell, the year will see a lot of strategic changes in the way e-commerce functions. Consumers today have a plethora of e-commerce sites to choose from and keeping them delighted will be the best way to keep the momentum going. Going forward in 2015, brands will extend themselves beyond discounts and flash sales to continue being relevant to customers, but at the same time, keeping the brand’s values and philosophy intact.
The author, Sameer Parwani, is the Founder and CEO, Coupondunia.in – India’s leading coupon code and deals aggregator website.