Fast and furious – the Indian e-commerce story

Posted by Admin on March 02, 2015

By Anisha Singh
Founder and CEO,

E-commerce is a very exciting space to be in. Having been in this business for a few years now, I have seen how people are doing so much more online – from being a source to just buying books or flowers to now where if you’re not online, you pretty much can’t survive! Life without e-commerce seems quite unimaginable.

According to a recent report by Motilal Oswal, India had 213 million Internet users in 2013, and is currently adding upwards of 5 million every month. Around 50% of the mobile users use Internet on their phones. This number will increase to more than 65% by 2015. The numbers present us with a staggering opportunity.  It’s also making this space extremely competitive. To survive, organisations need to innovate constantly and offer something new to customers. Some noteworthy trends:

Growth in mobile:Our phone has really changed the way we function. I personally use my phone to book movie tickets, look for a nice place to eat and shop for stuff while on-the-go. As the mobile Internet traffic now outweighs personal computer traffic, the preference of mobile devices over desktops/PCs is steadily increasing. We had anticipated this growth way back, and decided that the future is mobile. Today, more than 80% of our traffic is through mobile.

Goldmine beyond tier 1:Most online retailers can’t think beyond the metros. If they are doing well in the tier 1 cites, they are happy. However, if we look beyond tier 1, we’ll realise we have a wealth of opportunity. According to a report by Forrester Consulting, the number of online shoppers in tier 3 cities is the highest, with every second person shopping online through their mobile. Companies who have focussed on tier 2 and 3 cities are not only doing well, but flourishing. We see this in demographically similar countries to India such as China as well.

Coupons are alive and kicking! Contrary to popular perception, digital coupons are keeping up with the times and are still very relevant as omni-channel retail becomes the norm. A strong majority of consumers will redeem a digital coupon code within three days of receiving it, and nearly one-third will redeem it immediately. The online coupon/discount marketing segment has flourished alongside the surge in e-commerce in both the U.S. and China. Having lived in the U.S., I know for a fact that shoppers there are not just avid online shoppers but also have that mindset that they will first look for coupons before shopping. In China, coupons are a billion-dollar industry, even bigger than the U.S., and players like Meituan are thriving. When we started, customers had a certain reluctance to go for coupons, and today we sell more than 200,000 coupons a day! Bottom line is everyone is looking for a deal on their desktops, tablets or phones!

This column is intended to contribute to discussion and stimulate debate on important issues. The views are those of the author.