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BW Businessworld

Hyperlocal: The New Buzz In E-commerce

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There’s little doubt in the fact that e-commerce has altered the way we shop forever. With e-commerce, Indian shoppers have become used to the idea of fulfillment in the present. The satisfaction of clicking a few buttons and knowing that that much-awaited product is already on its way has become addictively alluring. But it has also paved the way for greater desires and a more pressing need for instant gratification; the kind that can only be fulfilled through hyperlocal commerce.

Ready to create a complete disruption in the Indian retail ecosystem, ‘hyperlocal’ is the only model that can suitably meet the demands of Indian customers, overcome their still-prevalent inhibitions about shopping virtually and ensure retention in a highly competitive market.

Hyperlocal retail optimizes the current location of consumers. Most platforms that are trying to work with this model are acting as aggregators that connect buyers with merchants in the vicinity. This not only ensures faster delivery but also opens up new possibilities in categories such as perishable products or bulkier white goods. Customers are also more prone to buying from a vendor who is locally based as this would mean they can get quicker returns/exchanges in cases where they are dissatisfied. The process of return and refund is still one of the biggest hindrances of online commerce in India. Hyperlocal obviates this roadblock and therein lies its biggest strength.   

What’s In It For Local Buyers
Hyperlocal offers customers the very comforts that spurred the heady popularity of e-commerce in the country. At the same time, it is able to do away with the limitations of conventional online retail. One is able to shop conveniently from the comfort of one’s home, but this time, it’s with the knowledge of the whereabouts of the retailer, the assurance that the goods will be delivered fast and that there is a physical store to go to for after-sales support. When buyers are connected with local retailers, there is a face to their shopping which leads to greater trust and as a result, more frequent purchases of higher value. Additionally, if they choose to use the hyperlocal platform as a means for discovery, they can also touch and feel the products before buying.

Categories where logistics is an issue have typically lagged behind in the e-commerce revolution. However, as hyperlocal retail comes into the mainstream, customers can expect speedier deliveries of bulky white goods such as Air Conditioners and Television sets and also of products where immediacy is of essence such as medicines, vegetables, groceries, gifts etc.  
Benefits For Merchants
Merchants have as many advantages to enjoy as buyers thanks to hyperlocal commerce. This is especially true in case of smaller merchants in the country. While there may be e-commerce platforms that host these smaller retailers, ultimately they are competing with big brands on the same platform and are unable to remain profitable. However, through hyperlocal commerce, they are able to leverage their location advantage and find favour with buyers in their vicinity.

Additionally, selling on e-commerce platforms requires high working capital requirements. Most marketplaces transfer the money received to the merchant only after 4-6 weeks. By actively participating in hyperlocal commerce, however, the retailer can either interact directly with the customer for instant transactions or can receive the payment within 24 hours as the delivery is fulfilled with greater speed. They can continue to exercise their practice of taking returns only if the product is genuinely defected and do not have to abide by lofty promises of the online marketplace in case of general dissatisfaction. In addition to all this, merchants are also able to upsell or cross-sell products since the customer is more likely to walk into his shop once in a while.

The Trend Is Here To Stay!
The increasing popularity of this space has encouraged various startups to venture into this domain and facilitate customers with the option to buy anything and everything from the local retailers present in their neighbourhood. It also reduces shipping and logistics costs tremendously as one is only delivering in one’s own vicinity. This cost advantage can be passed on to the consumer and is way more significant and attractive than the reduced prices offered by traditional e-retail platforms. 

Hyperlocal is bringing a significant shift in the way we shop. Customers are always looking at new ways to fulfill their desires in the fastest way possible. Hyperlocal is the only model that is able to give them that feeling of instant gratification across way more categories and at highly reduced prices. For all these reasons, this trend is here to stay and cause a veritable disruption in the retail space of the country.

The author is CEO, Zopper

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retail more 4 ecommerce hyperlocal