In light of increasing women with more financial independence, the share of women consumers in e-retail is expected to reach 45-48 per cent in the near future. Presenting an overview on the growth factors, consumption behaviour, key markets and innovations in this field.
No business in India in recent years has attracted as much hype around it as e-commerce. Infact, the Indian retail industry witnessed a revolution after the advent of e-commerce. It completely derailed the Indian traditional retail format and quickly became the first choice of millions of Indian consumers. The journey that started off with books and media now encompasses almost everything that we use on a daily basis right from electronic gadgets, apparel, jewelry, home and kitchen appliances, lifestyle accessories, to F&B, beauty products, baby products, music, flowers and gift items, et al. Currently, although the penetration of e-commerce is low compared to markets in developed countries such as the US and UK, it is growing at a rapid pace – with new e-commerce sites mushrooming almost regularly.
According to Director Sales, Google India, Nitin Bawankule, contrary to the popular belief that tech gadgets and gizmos are driving the growth of e-commerce, its lifestyle and fashion related categories like clothing, footwear, fashion accessories, jewellery and personal care that commanded 33 per cent of India’s US $11 billion e-commerce industry in 2016. Reports project that online fashion retail will continue to grow and reach US $30 billion, making it roughly 38 per cent of the India’s e-tailing market witnessing 8X growth. This indicates that 14 per cent of overall fashion retail sales will shift online by 2020. Clothing and footwear will constitute US $27 billion and beauty or personal care will be US $3 billion.
In the fashion category, currently, men’s wear dominates the fashion and lifestyle space with contribution of 52-54 per cent followed by women, contributing to approximately 38-42 per cent and contribution of kids ranges from 5-10 per cent. However, in light of increasing women in the workforce with more financial independence, the share of women in e-tail is expected to increase to 45-48 per cent, whereas men’s segment is expected to contribute 45-47 per cent.
The e-commerce market in India has been propelled by a number of factors, the four most prominent being — growth of digital penetration, limitation of brick-and-mortar formats, growth of Internet habitual customers and improved supply side. Smartphones and mobile Internet penetration are also one of the biggest influencers of this segment in recent times.
“Also specific online benefits like – convenience to shop, getting products at doorstep, COD, easy return policy, better variety and pricing are definitely helping out today’s time crunched women to buy online with much more trust,” says Head – Marketing, Vajor, Ena Bansal.
As time evolved, Indian Internet users have shown great appetite and comfort to adopt to newer products and services online; this coupled with good shopping experience is boosting confidence of Indians to shop online and also bring fence sitters to embrace the Internet. Also, the number of women shoppers have steadily been on the rise over the last few years, as the product categories under online shopping expanded from just electronics and music.
Earlier considered to be a medium dominated by male users, women in urban areas have already outpaced men in adoption of the internet. Today there are more searches for women’s wear than men’s wear; in fact 51 per cent of clothing searches are for women’s wear. Women infact do more research as compared to men with 71 per cent of women buyers comparing prices online compared to 64 per cent of men buyers. Ethnic clothing and innerwear, especially, as category are growing really fast giving rise to niche players. Ethnic clothing today contributes to one third of the clothing searches and continues to grow at over 40 per cent year-on-year. What’s also interesting is that women in Tier-I cities outspend their male counterparts online by 2X and buy more frequently than men.
Also as documented by various researches, a majority of women prefer to shop online with a desktop while men prefer mobile. Men limit their search to particular products they have in mind at the time of purchase, while women find other products apart from their intended shopping interest, as well. Both sexes consider price as a factor to decide, but men tend to compromise easily with quality over price while women are particular about price and close a purchase with the best available offer.
When advertising is considered, social media, paper advertising, word of mouth etc., both have the same impact. However, in some areas men differ from women, like emails with offers work better for women when they are in search of a product. It’s a good marketing strategy to send emails with product details and discount coupons, to women. Also, women shoppers are more likely to plan out their shopping strategies and make their purchases based on future needs.
The Typical Women Consumer
“Our core focus group includes 22-40 year old females with modern outlook and the ones who pay high importance to comfort without compromising on looks. She loves travelling and listening to music,” says Ena Bansal.
Ellemora, a Bareilly based women-centric brand that focuses on giving women a premium shopping experience, also targets the same age group.
“Our focus customers include women between the age group of 20-35 from Tier -1 and -II cities who love to experiment with different fabrics, designs, cuts and styles,” says Director, Ellemora, Shanky Kumar.
It’s is natural that the core consumer base of these online brands constitute of women within the age bracket of 20-40 years. These women are financially independent, ardent shoppers, easily excited to try latest designs and styles and like to be fashion forward.
Majority of the brick-and-mortar brands are concentrated in larger cities and are unable to meet the rising aspirations in smaller cities across India. This skew in retail presence is fuelling the growing demand through online channels owing to its wide reach and delivery to even smaller cities and towns where brick-and-retail stores are either not viable or will take years to reach. Owing to fast penetration of the e-tail, many brick-and-mortar fashion retail brands have started entering online retail.
“We are a pan-India brand serving around 8,000 pincodes. That being said, the key metros, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, etc., are definitely the priority areas,” says Ena Bansal.
One of the key to this growing online retail industry is delivery. The logistic sector is closely related to the online retail sector and has registered a significant metamorphosis after the advent of online retail.
“As of now, we are associated with Fedex as our delivery partner and since Fedex has a deep reach in numerous parts of the country, we are equipped to deliver to almost all parts of the country,” says Shanky Kumar.
With the growing purchasing power in combination with the national and international brands pouring in, the retail market has received an impetus to grow at large in the country. Trends are showing that after establishing their niche in the Tier I cities, most national and international retail brands are treading on to Tier -II and Tier -III cities to tap the opportunities.
“Over the time our reach in Tier II and -III cities has been increasing and specific product categories like dresses and shrugs have performed better than other product categories . Considering we are only in western wear, this segment is in evolving process and we do have different strategies to create brand awareness in the mentioned cities,” says Ena Bansal.
But if Shanky Kumar is to be believed, it is altogether a different market that responds differently with respect to the Tier -I cities.
“Their consumption pattern is different. Monetarily speaking the tier -I cities perform better but Tier -II and III are showing great potential and with the increase in the disposable income of the youth the tide is expected to shift,” he adds.
Product Categories and Consumption Statistics
The women’s online market is vast, encompassing a never-ending list of products. Ena Bansal reveals that, at Vajor the women’s wear vertical contributes around 75 per cent of the overall revenue.
“We currently have 3 verticals – Apparel, Shoes & Accessories and Décor,” she adds.
But what are the core categories that enjoy demand around the year? “Sarees, kurtas, dresses, casual tops are few of our highest selling products. Price rage starts from Rs 5,000 and goes about to Rs 50,000,” says Founder – The Open Trunk, Deepa Reddy.
A part of Deline Living, The Open Trunk’s USP lies in its modern take on traditional Clothes.
Ellemora offer about 400 product styles and more than 2,000 unique products under the western and the Indo-western categories. The average transaction value of women’s wear customers ranges between Rs 800 – Rs 1,200. The top selling categories of the brand includes Indo-western shirt dresses, western skater dresses, Indo-western shrugs, western crop tops and Indo-western kurtis, all available within the price range of Rs 500 – Rs 1,399.
In today’s cut-throat competition, continuous innovation is indispensable to capture their shoppers’ attention. Innovation captures consumer interest and attention, attracting both new customers and faithful loyalists.
“Our in-house stylist gives a personal shopping experience to the customer. We create the entire look along with the hair and makeup depending on the occasion. Besides helping brides with health and skin care dos and don’ts,” says Deepa Reddy.
Ellemora offers an exciting membership program for its customers called Ellemora Elite, where every member of the program will be categorized as an Elitist.
“By becoming a member, you will, by default, be offered 1 point on Rs 50 worth of shopping. These points will be redeemable the next time you shop. So, if you shop for Rs 3,000 you then gain 60 points which can be redeemed the next time you shop,” says Shanky Kumar.
Vajor launches a new collection every 30-45 days. The story behind the collection decides the number of SKUs in each of sub category . Usually its around 100 new product variants in every collection.
Market Outreach and Promotional Strategy
Vajor exercises a string of strategies for each objective, from creating awareness about the brand to keeping its potential audience engaged.
“Creating content to build stickiness and targeting the relevant audience to keep the traffic efficient are some of them,” says Ena Bansal.
Ellemora wishes to leverage the ambitious and experimental nature of its target group by reaching them where they are active; like social media, malls and corporate work places.
“We are reaching out to a lot of lifestyle and fashion bloggers as well as social media influencers to experience our offerings and share their honest feedback with their followers. So far, we have received some great feedback and reviews on the brand. This has definitely helped in generating positive conversations around the brand and promote trial amongst our TG,” says Shanky Kumar.
The Road Ahead
As a woman’s financial independence increases, so does her disposable income. The modern woman is exposed to the latest fashions everywhere she looks and she understands the importance of being well turned out for all occasions of life.
“So, yes the online market will grow significantly but only those brands who are serious about their offerings will grow their customer base,” says Deepa Reddy.
As per the Digital Retail 2020 report by Google and AT Kearney, India will see a 5x growth in the number of women shoppers by 2020 when they will be more than double their share of online spend.
“With all other parameters like internet penetration and online purchase trust building up, the lifestyle segment, which is an integral part of our journey, will be strongly favoured. By providing right products and keeping a tab on user’s evolving needs of servicing we can definitely witness a significant growth,” concludes Ena Bansal.