With the increase in Internet penetration and number of Internet users, the digital industry has only experienced wider opportunities and growth. The widespread global adoption of social networks has hugely influenced human interaction leading to a convergence of the online and offline communities; thereby bringing forth a new audience altogether. The year 2011 in India has seen the internet, mobile and social media landscape rapidly develop and spread to this audience. The transition from using the web for just search to now buying things online is what remains to be remarkable in the Indian online market. Now, one can buy their travel ticket from their mobile or have groceries home delivered – such varied usage of the digital space is itself a milestone.
It most positively been a good year for the industry. Especially since the economic slowdown affected the pace of most things, the digital industry and e-commerce managed to provide some respite. And it will continue to be so. The online space offers a vast platform of opportunity that once tapped only opens up many more options. People are becoming more and more involved with the offerings of the internet:
Flipkart, Snapdeal, Bookmyshow, Zomato, Meru, Citibank, FashionandYou, etc. that provide wider options of convenience and budget. Now with ‘Cash on Delivery’ as an added service, people without access to credit/debit cards can also participate in the ecommerce growth story. This medium is only going to grow as it is easily accessible, affordable, less time consuming and provides value benefits.
Top 5 industry trends in 2012:
Social Media – With social media sites like Twitter and Facebook having gained mass adoption, customers now have a new channel of expression and it will be important for companies to beef up their social media strategy and use these channels to engage customers on a regular basis. In addition, customer support and customer service through these social media channels will become imperative and companies will need to rethink their entire customer support strategy from ground up, keeping social media in perspective.
Mobile – The number of mobile users in India exceed number of internet users in India by a factor of 5. With smartphones becoming cheaper and 4G being launched in India, mobile internet usage will not only become affordable but also enable several users to access the internet for the first time on their mobiles. Mobiles therefore will very soon become a big channel not only for seeking information, but also for transactions.
Payments – The success rate of payment gateways in India is nothing to boast about. In the coming year, several new modes of payment like NFC, Mobile Wallets etc will get introduced which will not only make payments easier, but also enable transactions for a big segment of people who could not transact earlier. Ease of payments will overall be a significant contributor to the growth of e-commerce services in India.
Social CRM – A personalized experience to a customer will soon be a factor that will differentiate the service of one company from another. So far, websites are used to showing up the same offers, same results to each customer, but going forward, they will need to provide a custom experience to each customer based on what they have purchased in the past, the products that they are looking at etc. A social profile for each customer will also help customized and relevant marketing promotions to reach each consumer.
Hyper Local – Location based services are already catching up and the coming year will mark the tipping point for location based services. Companies will need to figure out their offering in the context of a location and ensure that the user is able to quickly find relevant products based on his current location.
On changes expected in 2012:
Payments is the lifeline of e-commerce industry and we expect regulatory changes in enabling better, easier to use and more secure forms of payment to make a big difference to the quality of service in the industry. A few steps in this direction have already been taken with permission to launch mobile wallets ( though limited in size ) and we expect more changes in this direction to help the industry grow faster.
(Deep Kalra is Founder & CEO, Makemytrip.com)