According to a 2019 report by Retail Association of India and Deloitte India, e-commerce market in India is expected to grow to $84 billion in 2021 from $24 million in 2017.
Indian e-commerce business is heading to surpass the US to become the second largest e-commerce market in the world in the next 15 years, says Ram Ravichandran, CTO, US-based e-commerce SaaS firm Narvar. This would happen as the internet penetration reaches Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets, he says.
Narvar, which has stringed together about 650 retail behemoths through its customer engagement platforms, is “committed to investments in this market,” because of the “high growth trajectory” that Indian e-commerce has been riding, Ram Ravichandran told FE. Apart from heading the technology wing of Narvar, he is co-founder of DiagramCorp, advisor at Expa and former data scientist at Twitter.
According to a 2019 report by Retail Association of India and Deloitte India, e-commerce market in India is expected to grow to $84 billion in 2021 from $24 million in 2017. Currently e-commerce accounts for approximately 5% of India’s $600 billion retail market, but this is shifting forward by the minute.
“While most industries have been affected by the economic recession, the economy has been good for e-commerce companies, so far. In India, online shopping peaks during festive season contribute a yearly growth of 30% on average,” he points out.
India, as Narvar sees it, is at “an interesting junction in the e-commerce space.” “More retailers are moving online, there is increasing investment in technology, customers from smaller towns are getting comfortable shopping online and the industry is seeing huge growth. While our products are global in nature, we have localised them to the market needs and challenges. Right from localisation of communication to preference of communication channels — everything is thought through keeping the cultural nuances in mind,” he says.
Much would depend on the maturing of Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets. “Besides internet penetration, innovations in digital payments, hyper-local deliveries, data-driven customer engagement, and digital advertisements will boost the growth,” says Ram Ravichandran.
Talking about India’s retail trends, he sees Whatsapp as watchworthy. “Contrary to general belief, shopping on WhatsApp is becoming the norm now. It is a new shopping platform unique to Indian market, especially Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. There are multiple retailers with whom you can shop through WhatsApp because it now accepts payments. They just need a product catalogue. Meesho, a growing player in this segment, seems to have figured that out too,” he says.
According to Ram Ravichandran, China to India e-commerce is evolving and providing access to new players, especially with focus on tier-2 and tier-3 markets.
As for Narvar, its forte in the US has been to help the global retail firms to hold on to a valuable customer post-purchase through its platforms, than go for the traditional route of acquiring new customers.
In the B2B segment, Narvar in talks with SMB retailers. The e-tailing facilitator firm counts on bandwidth through 5G to solve connectivity issues, attracting the second wave of customers on ecommerce domain.
“At Narvar, we are a polyglot shop, and use a mix of Node, Java and Golang. Our platform is a microservices based architecture that runs in the cloud on Kubernetes — AWS and GCP. We use Yugabyte for Storage, and Pulsar for queueing. Our Machine learning models are deployed on Seldon. The machine learning models are built to process historical data (purchase, support etc.) that we get from disparate systems and the user behavior, to help our retailers maximize customer lifetime value.” he says.
Witnessing the evolution of cutting edge technology, during early career at Twitter was definitive for his oeuvre in Narvar too. All successful start-ups first build for flexibility, and then for scale, after hitting product-market fit. He learned how to transition from the former to the latter, thanks to the Twitter team, says Ram Ravichandran.