The large-scale online marketing activities and promotional activities of e-retailers indicate that the retail industry has entered a new era, with e-commerce and technology leaders such as Amazon, Alibaba, Apple, Google, and Microsoft opening up new horizons for consumer expectations. Due to the expansion of the Internet and the increase of mobile connections, the online retail market is on a growth track.
Global overview: Globally, with the emergence of e-commerce, the retail market has made considerable progress, mainly due to the expansion of the Internet and the increase in mobile connections. According to the latest research on digital e-commerce, total global e-commerce sales in 2019 reached nearly US$3.4 trillion.
Overview of India: Online retail or e-tailing in India is growing at a rapid rate. A new study conducted by Frost & Sullivan shows that the Indian online consumer electronics and electrical appliances market was valued at approximately INR 10 trillion in fiscal year 2019, and it is expected that from fiscal year 2019 to fiscal year 2025, the compound annual growth rate of this market is 24.5%.
Online retail is mainly driven by the surge in the Internet in India, and the surge in the Internet in India has increased year by year. The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), a global telecom industry organization, predicts that by 2025, the total number of Internet users will reach 920 million, thereby promoting the development of e-commerce and mobile commerce. In addition, due to the increasing penetration of electronic products, digital payments in India are also growing, accounting for 80% of online transactions. Other major drivers include the growth of disposable income and the increase of the Y-generation population.
Online retail is more convenient for consumers and sellers. Time to market, cost savings and scale are the main advantages of online sales. Some major trends are making a paradigm shift in the online retail market in India, including:
(1) Technology adoption
Technological advancements such as chatbots, video sales, image search, shared shopping carts, facial recognition payments and image/voice search technology have become part of the online shopping experience in India, an early adopter of global technology trends. Using chatbots on company websites can provide a more personalized shopping experience. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) auxiliary product recommendation engines and virtual assistants. Virtual reality (VR) can provide an immersive shopping experience in physical stores and online stores. In addition, the use of blockchain technology can ensure data security and reduce transaction costs.
Online players need to adopt new technologies such as VR and AR to improve marketing to consumers. Chatbots and video sales are effective ways to promote products. Suppliers should hire third-party experts to perform 3D modeling of products.
(2) Electronic payment
Traditionally, due to the lack of trust and security issues in online payment, cash payment is India's favorite payment method. However, as a large number of young people can use smartphones, digital payments are on the rise and are expected to account for 80% of Indian transactions by 2025. According to ASSOCHAM (Association of Chambers of Commerce), the Indian market has been adopting digital technology e-wallets faster than the US, UK and China. Since monetization was cancelled, transaction volume has also increased tenfold. In 2019, India’s mobile wallet transaction volume was approximately 18.4 billion Indian rupees. Improved payment infrastructure and the telecommunications industry have encouraged the adoption of digital wallets in India. As consumers increasingly choose contactless payment methods, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is a turning point for Indian payment methods. With the growing threat of epidemics in the future, the demand for contactless payments through mobile wallets is expected to increase.
For a safe and reliable payment gateway, providing simple financing methods for online purchases through e-wallets, EMI, and cash on delivery will encourage online purchases. Spreading awareness of network security measures in online payments to mitigate security vulnerabilities during transactions will help increase consumers’ trust in online payment methods.
(3) Subscription service
Subscription service is an effective way to build a loyal customer base for e-commerce companies. Add value by getting potential buyers close to their own website. Technological trends in the industry indicate that personalized subscription services will continue to occupy a central position in online shopping.
Online platforms such as Flipkart and Amazon have introduced loyalty programs by offering points that can be converted into cash in future payments. Amazon's monthly and annual subscriptions (called Prime) enhance the customer experience with additional features, such as priority selection for new product launches, fast free shipping, and more.
Subscription services in online retail include a large number of devices to build a loyal customer base with the help of strategic customer expansion plans (including competitions, forums, social media participation, and insightful content on portals).
The future of the retail industry largely depends on online platforms. In addition to metropolitan areas in the urban market, second- and third-tier cities also have the largest penetration potential of online consumer products. The entire online retail market is dominated by consumer electronics and home appliances. In the next few years, especially in this market segment, more users are expected to participate in online shopping. After-sales service is considered to be the main differentiating factor for online sales in India. Companies should provide simple and safe financing methods for online purchases through secure payment gateways, electronic wallets, EMI, and cash on delivery, which will encourage online purchases. Companies must focus on targeted, personalized digital and social media marketing to acquire new customers and repeat customers by integrating seller’s mobile applications with consumers’ social media profiles.