Opportunity To Connect A Billion People
One of India’s largest success stories over the last decade has been the boom of e-commerce. Customer engagement with online marketplaces nationwide is expected to grow over 30% this year, a growth rate that trails only China and Indonesia in the Asia-Pacific region.
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One of India’s largest success stories over the last decade has been the boom of e-commerce. Customer engagement with online marketplaces nationwide is expected to grow over 30% this year, a growth rate that trails only China and Indonesia in the Asia-Pacific region. This sector’s importance has revolutionised the way business is conducted and also the way a consumer shops. In addition to weekly mall trips, consumers can now conveniently also make their purchases on their mobile phones with a few swipes on their way to work. The success of a business is no longer only dependent on the amount of capital they have; the quality of the product or service can be a real differentiator in success.
There are many factors that may have driven this rapid rise, from increasing internet penetration across markets to India’s huge youth population who are quick adopters of technology and the latest trends, from an expanding middle class with more disposable income to growing consumer culture and government initiatives. But while all of these might have bolstered the industry, one of the most important ones is the increasing adoption of smartphones and hence connected consumers in India.
The e-commerce and smartphone relationship can be a ‘chicken or egg’ situation for many people. Some believe the e-commerce industry has been fueled by rising demand and adoption of smartphones, while others say smartphones have become more accessible, affordable and in demand due to the growth of e-commerce. Either which way, the positive relation between the two cannot be overstated. Even in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns it is not uncommon to see people with smartphones today. This, along with the 4G network roll-out, has caused a surge in the number of digital shoppers in India.
According to Counterpoint, e-commerce platforms captured a record 38% share of total smartphone channels in India in the first quarter of 2018, driven by exclusive online launches and strong promotions. (Source) With mobile handset brands shifting to adopting an online strategy as opposed to solely an offline one, the end benefit lies with the consumer, as the cost of smartphones has reduced substantially. Even Indians in the most remote parts of the country are able to take advantage of wide choice and a large delivery network.
For a company like Micromax that has always worked towards democratizing technology, this has been a perfect opportunity to connect under-served consumers in remote cities at affordable price points. New smartphone brand entrants earlier had to invest significantly to enter the Indian market, now they have a bigger reach with the help of e-commerce.
I can personally attest that events like ‘The Big Billion Days’, introduced by Flipkart, the leading e-commerce player in India, are eagerly awaited opportunities for brands and consumers alike. It allows us to provide our customers with the best products, services and technology at in a way that is affordable to them. These platforms also provide various financial options that enable first-time buyers to confidently take the leap. In addition to deals and offers on mobile phones, Flipkart also has payment innovations such as Cardless Credit and Zero Cost EMI to make it easier for online shoppers to buy their desired phone with minimum worry. This allows feature phone users on a tight budget to update to smartphones, or an entry level smartphone user to upgrade to more power packed phones. It can be the decider between someone on the fence choosing to try online shopping for the first time. Along with this the after-sales services provided through plans like Complete Mobile Protection are initiatives designed solely for Indian consumers, who tend to want that extra guiding touch to help them once they’ve bought their phone.
So far, the e-commerce trajectory in India has been nothing short of phenomenal with more than three times growth since 2015, but we still have a long way to go in terms of infrastructure, awareness and affordability. No doubt, the recent initiatives and consumer behavior is a step in the right direction, and it’ll be great to wait and see the journey this takes and what that means for handset and other industries in the coming years.
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