What online businesses can do to attract and delight more and more customers and stay ahead of the competition
By Parv Sondhi
New Delhi: The e-commerce industry has experienced significant growth in the last two years, with global sales projected to reach 21.8% of all retail sales by 2024, according to a Statista report by Daniela Coppola.
Based on information by A. Minhas in his reports on retail e- commerce sales in India, the Indian e-commerce market is estimated to rise to US$ 188 billion by 2025 and is anticipated to reach US$ 350 billion by 2030. As per data released by InGovern Research Services, the e-commerce sector in India is expected to grow to 200 billion US dollars by 2026.
As more businesses enter the online marketplace, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to stand out and appeal to customers.
It’s vital to note that online sales increased by over 5% annually before the pandemic. Naturally, established firms have concentrated on their capacity to digitise processes and integrate an e-commerce counterpart to their business during the past two years.
The e-commerce sector’s expansion has spawned a vibrant economy for aspiring online merchants and business owners, as well as for digital financial services, web designers, online marketers, and a whole lot more. Compared to how it appeared a little just over two years ago, the e-commerce industry is essentially unrecognisable today.
Both established e-commerce players and recent arrivals are vying for customers’ attention. As a result, advertising expenses increase, and the return on advertising investment decreases (ROAS). For instance, the cost of advertising on Facebook has already increased by 47% since last year. 2021 was again another record-breaking year for global e-commerce, and according to Statista, the percentage is projected to increase further by 2024 and reach 21.8% of all global retail sales. In other words, decades of growth had occurred in only a few weeks.
We are entering a future where online and offline purchasing will coexist. E-commerce growth is being fuelled by an increase in first-time online buyers from all over India. These trends have been the driving force for the past several years and will continue to determine the future of the e-commerce business as it integrates with retail.
We will likely see several new customer-centric models in the near future as e-commerce expands and new shopping models enter the market in India. In the past several years, investors and consumers have become more aware of the social commerce concept. Leading companies use sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat to interact with India’s youthful consumers.
An increase in internet and smartphone usage is primarily to blame for the industry’s expansion. Given that consumers have so many alternatives, it might be challenging to enter the Indian e-commerce industry.
Here are some tips for customising your e-commerce site to appeal to customers in India:
Quality is crucial and the main factor in purchasing. Additionally, Indian customers appreciate affordability. However, the desire to provide inexpensive products in large quantities in this market would be unsuccessful with customers.
One of the most crucial elements of the e-commerce experience is the product catalogue. Customers anticipate a wide range of well-chosen and personalised products. By targeting specialised niches with products like eco-friendly/sustainable goods and specialty clothes, a growing number of small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses have achieved success. Offering a standardised assortment of products will drive away buyers in this industry.
Today’s customers demand rapid, simple access to their preferred goods and services like any other internet buyer. Along with appealing business and product descriptions, shoppers value how they are presented on the website.
Customers won’t settle for a slow or unreliable website because there are so many online stores to select from. Engage industry experts to evaluate your website for speed, performance, and usability to ensure that your eCommerce platform promptly offers localised information. It’s also essential to provide flexible shipping, delivery, and payment alternatives.
The ‘Buy now, pay later’ market in India is expected to increase tenfold over the next four years, reaching $50 billion by 2026, according to HDFC Securities. Furthermore, payment upon delivery is still prevalent. Consider payment and delivery alternatives that provide your customers with the finest experience while boosting your marketability as part of your e-commerce localisation plan.
Customer and post-sales support
Customers anticipate assistance at every stage of the ordering and delivery process. Customer service is so crucial that 86% of Indian customers are eager to increase their spending with a business that can demonstrate that it offers top-notch customer assistance. If there is a perception of bad customer service, over 63% of consumers decide not to make a purchase, according to Emplifi’s report on 11 key things consumers expect from their brand experiences today.
Post-sale assistance is also a focal area for customer service. Customers anticipate frequent post-purchase communication via email and social media, focusing on offering discounts. Customers’ ability to interact with customer care agents and offer feedback without difficulty builds brand loyalty and enhances customer satisfaction.
Social and livestream shopping
Any online stores allow customers to make purchases straight from social networking platforms, which is a practical and click-reducing approach. Based on the Social Commerce: Global Strategic Business Report, social commerce is a developing trend that is predicted to generate $604.5 billion in worldwide sales by 2027, with the United States and China leading the way.
Purchases are done through marketplaces or advertisements with specific ‘buy now’ buttons. Even Walmart collaborated with TikTok to hold its own livestream shopping events.
In a sense, Livestream shopping is an improved social commerce. Customers can make live purchases during social media showcases of goods or services, frequently organised by influencers or businesses. Viewers may make inquiries, comments, and purchases during the live show and snag exclusive or time-limited offers.
As of right now, China leads the world in livestream commerce. On November 11, 2020, Alibaba held a live Global Shopping Festival on its Taobao website, bringing this trend to public attention. According to reports, over 300 million people watched events on 33 live channels, paying $16.5 billion. 2023 will probably see a rise in livestream commerce, and firms would be wise to capitalise on the trend now.
AR window shopping
Trying items on before buying is a habit that is difficult to give up, even how much fun internet shopping is. Customers are less likely to be shocked or, worst still, dissatisfied following a purchase with augmented reality try-on alternatives.
Consider that your living room needs a new chair and aim your smartphone towards your living room to see how the chair would appear with all of your other furnishings in augmented reality.
Regarding apparel, you might submit a photo of yourself to determine whether a garment will contrast with your skin tone or go well with your eyes.
In reality, research shows that AR technology increases conversion rates by 90%. Six out of ten buyers claimed that seeing a product in their daily life would enhance their likelihood of purchasing. Shopify outperformed this with a 250% rise in site conversion rates using AR technology. While seeking more individualised shopping encounters, consumers are growing increasingly aware of and worried about privacy issues.
In conclusion, the e-commerce industry in India has undergone a significant transformation in the last few years and has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The growth trajectory for this sector is projected to keep rising, and businesses must adapt to these changes to keep up with the competition. With the right approach, businesses can make the most of the opportunities provided by India’s growing e-commerce market and build a successful online presence.
Parv Sondhi has led cross-functional teams at multiple Fortune 500 companies in Silicon Valley to deliver digital experiences across domains. Currently, at Vida Health Inc, Parv is responsible for the ML platform and member-facing experiences for mobile and web.