Having won close to 300 million customers, e-commerce companies are now reaching out to the next 200 million potential e-shoppers. Experts say getting to the first 300 million, who live in the country’s top 30 cities and towns, hasn’t been easy. As for the potential universe of the next 200 million, experts believe it’s somewhat different; the consumers are less well-off, less trusting of online transactions and not as familiar with latest trends. But they’re as aspiring as anyone else. That means retailers will need to carefully curate the merchandise and price products to match the purchasing power, says Ankur Pahwa, partner, EY. Buyers would need a lot more hand-holding and this would call for a lot more interaction across multi-level touch points, perhaps even micro sites with a simple user interface within the main platform. In sum, Pahwa believes there will be a far greater use of the 4Vs – voice, vernacular, visual and video.
Anurag Mathur, partner, PWC, points out local brands could be a lot more more in demand. That would require e-commerce platforms to onboard more local vendors and enable and equip them to sell better. Also, electronic gadgets, which typically account for the bulk of the merchandise, might need to yield space to apparel, fashion products and even groceries. “A portfolio with a good mix of local, regional brands and at several price points would be ideal,” Mathur says, pointing out it would be very helpful to have enough of a selection across the affordable price points. To be sure, good Internet connectivity is critical. And as Harsha Razdan, partner, KPMG, says given the mistrust of payment gateways, e-commerce companies need to make sure there are no cyber frauds. “Beyond a point it’s hard to manage cash on delivery transactions so it’s important to make users comfortable with paying online,” Razdan says.
Razdan stresses the importance of getting the logistics right. “Given the next 200 million live far out, the cost of logistics could outweigh the costs of the product,” he cautions. Teaming up with the right partners is important to ensure suitable products are made available, something e-retailers are already working on.
An Omni channel strategy could be equally important. EY’s Pahwa says the route to market for the next 200 could be different with an omni channel piece a big part of the strategy. Indeed, there is a fairly large catchment of consumers that continues to browse on the net and buy in the stores. Deeper collaboration with brands and local manufacturers will help companies create demand as they are typically aware of customers’ consumption and purchasing patterns. With many more e-commerce platforms coming up to join the Amazons and Flipkarts, experts say it’s possible to build the catchment of the next 200 million e-shoppers in a much shorter time than the seven years it took to build the universe of 300 million. But as PWC’s Mathur points out much will depend on how well players manage the logistics and how soon vendors are trained to get on to the platform.