The opportunities for e-commerce growth in India are many, but so are some challenges that plague this domain. Overall, the growth drivers for e-commerce include the huge market that India offers, besides with more and more of the younger generation taking to shopping online for the convenience, wide range and bargain deals, industry experts are optimistic about the industry picking up in a big way in the near future.
Creating efficient models to reach out to consumers, driving loyalty and delivering on the promise are some of the challenges listed by Suneet Manchanda, Co-founder & COO, Ladyblush.com. He further felt that Cash on Delivery (COD) and reach also played critical roles, and added that there should be more cities and more pin codes as “volumes are waiting to happen”.
For Harish Bahl, Founder and Chairman, Smile Group, going on to mass media and creating the market are the key challenges. Other hiccups include how e-commerce players create reasons for the consumer to shop online, how to create profitability and the need to go beyond disruption in terms of more dollars to spend.
While the headroom is large, the challenge is about building trust, spreading awareness. The growth triggers would be price and convenience for a market set to grow to $8 billion, noted Nikhil Rungta, Country Marketing Head, Google India.
Equally important is concentrating on creating a brand image, said Amit Tiwari, Country Head Media & Digital, Philips India, who felt that getting into the domain of creation of brands is the biggest challenge.
For Roy De Souza, CEO, Zedo, customer service is the main challenge.
Ladyblush.com’s Manchanda sees a huge opportunity in ‘Bharat’, which is not on the radar of present day e-commerce companies.
Some industry experts see the growing use of technology spurring the growth of e-commerce. “The opportunity will be the use of tablets, which will be good for the e-commerce experience and volumes will take off,” said De Souza. A good indication is Micromax tablets, which have clocked 17,000 units per month. Manu Kumar Jain, Co-founder, Jabong.com, observed that Amazon coming to India would be good for everyone. He also felt that the opportunity lay in offering discounts, though cash on delivery would remain a challenge.
According to Samarjeet Singh, Director-Founder, Iksula, the consumer is both the challenge and the opportunity. Agreeing with De Souza, Singh, “The Indian industry has not seen much of customer service, hence, there is a big opportunity in changing that notion.” Singh added, “The challenge also is consumer’s lack of trust and the onus is on the industry to remove that fear.”
On a more positive note, Siddharth Sethi, Director, Xaxis, sees fantastic opportunities for everybody. “Now we are talking about profitability and there will be lots of success stories,” he added.
The panellists were speaking at the Pitch Roundtable on e-commerce, organised by exchange4media in New Delhi on August 30, 2012.