‘The world is going digital’ – understanding this, Indian ecommerce ecosystem has recently witnessed an inception of numerous start-ups helping offline businesses go online. Offline stores are continuously seeking for innovative ideas to reach out to a larger audience.
Today, whether you are a large, medium or a budding enterprise, having an online presence is quintessential. Businesses that engage directly with consumers face tough competition, and hence there is a constant need to keep improving on the brand visibility. The more you are seen, the better top of mind recall your brand enjoys.
With all the clutter around us, we are in an age where a business needs to go to the consumer, else there is high possibility a potential customer will be lured by another. With a majority of the target audience being present online, it is a must that a business should be present online and more importantly across platforms that is desktop, mobile site and native applications. This would mean being part of online groups that attract more traction. Platforms like OffersOn.com provide just that. The site does not limit itself to brands but also local stores. From providing guidance on the importance of being online to facilitating them with an online presence in just minutes, such platforms are great boosters to the unorganised sector.
There are a few factors that advocate a combined model of e-commerce and local merchants which includes rapid penetration of technology, growing consumer preferences and growing adoption of online medium by stores and brands. A recent report by the Internet And Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), states that the Internet user base in the country stood at 190 million at the end of June, 2013 and is expected to touch 243 million Internet users by June 2014. Of this 185 million users are expected to access the internet through mobile devices. This shows the growing rate of internet users with an increasing rate of users accessing the web through mobile phones. Thus, being available on the mobile platform is equally important as to having offline presence.
With an increasing percentage of online shoppers, brick and mortar sector is not making that much of a profit. In order to keep their business sustained, it is vital that offline stores need to go online and regain their market.
Taking your online presence seriously is the best way to compete with the biggies. In fact, it is entirely possible to take a bite out of larger competitors’ volume or even make the ecosystem bigger as these local merchants never existed online earlier. You need to ensure that your online presence has all the information a consumer will require to attract him to your store. There are many cost-effective ways to look like you really know what you are doing. One such way is to look established. This will set you apart right from the start.
No one else knows your business like you do. You are the master of your product. And even online, preference is given to local business. Don’t miss this opportunity to draw back the attention on how easily available you really are online, just the same way you are available offline. It’s a fact for local businesses who arn’t online, they need to know that their customers are searching for them online!
By operating both online and in-person, the merchant can reach out to its customers using channels that they prefer, and engage with them on their terms. It is also necessary to provide unique shopping experience for customers. Due to the offline unorganised market going online they have been creating a personal level of interaction both physically and digitally.
A considerable number of local merchants now understand the power of internet in terms of the reach it has and the way it can impact business. This has led to a significant rise in the number of local stores that have online presence and with portals that provide this kind of support, the number only seem to be rising. Such platforms are proving to be missing piece in the current ecosystem. With local stores going online, we should soon be able to start discovering the best of location information around product and services and without a doubt this could be a big threat to the big players who have no offline existance and play in pure online existance and are established in the current ecommerce ecosystem!
About the author
Abrar Shaikh is the Founder and CEO of Squeakee-a young start up that has pioneered the location–aware technology and is helping local stores gain online presence through its product known as ‘OffersOn.com’.