Every one of us is familiar with the current situation of the world. Now we all have made ourselves habitual to the ‘new normal’. It all started around five months ago for India as the COVID19 pandemic emerged, but for the rest of the world, it started even earlier. It's an unprecedented situation and the world has witnessed a loss like never before. The severity can be understood with the fact that even in the time of world wars, nations were not completely shut down.
However, this period has seen unusual but good things happening as well. People were stranded at their homes for months, and this gave them plenty of time to explore themselves. They were left with a plethora of options to do while staying indoors, like developing new hobbies.
One of the positive things that unfolded was for e-commerce websites. This lockdown period is witnessing a rise of e-commerce. People are preferring online shopping or rather we can say online services over the in-store purchases. One may think that it was happening already, what's new about the use of online platforms for buying your products and services? The answer to this question will be clear as we move forward with the reading and looking at the stats. So, let us start with a brief description of e-commerce at first.
If we go by the basic definition of e-commerce, it means electronically buying or selling of products and services on online services or over the internet. The technical definition says e-commerce is a business model that lets firms and individuals purchase and sell goods over the internet. So, not just shopping for clothes and buying other such goods is e-commerce, rather it covers a whole variety of services and products ranging from clothes to online ticketing. Since India is heading towards a completely digital economy with every progressing day, the reliance on such platforms increases even more.
If we look at India, a large part of the country is rural India, and hence reaching out to the larger population continuously posed a challenge for e-commerce solution companies. However, the coronavirus imposed lockdown has presented a whole different picture. Companies did try to reach out to a wider range of customers in earlier times yet somehow failed, but this period has brought the consumers themselves to these e-commerce platforms.
E-commerce has become a necessity rather than an option. Big companies like Amazon and Flipkart are trying to include all the services and goods that are required on a day-to-day basis.
Leading E-Commerce Solutions
We have a lot of examples of e-commerce firms which are specialized in providing different services. Two of the biggest examples include Flipkart and Amazon, as mentioned above, which facilitate consumers with all necessary goods. Then there are food delivery giants like Swiggy and Zomato. Urbanclap is one such example that portrays the future picture of people seeking and enjoying services at their doorstep. They provide salon services, plumbing, and repairing services are just a call away. Grofers and BigBasket are examples of platforms where you can order groceries, vegetables, and fruits. However, Amazon pantry and Flipkart grocery too have added themselves to the list and show no intention of sparing any chance to lead the market. We have 1mg and PharmEasy for online pharmacy and health-related services.
In the upcoming days, we may witness the two aforementioned names, Amazon and Flipkart entering the drugs market as well. There are many such names and categories we may have even missed because the market is now flooded with such platforms which lead to a digital world. Paytm, PhonePe, Google Pay are among such examples.
As we discussed above, the coronavirus imposed lockdown has forced people to stay indoors. This means that people cannot access services and buy goods from traditional markets, and hence they are compelled to opt for online shopping. Urban India already had a good hand in online shopping, but the major part of India remained doubtful over purchasing goods without being able to physically assess their quality. Yet when one has no alternative left they choose the unconventional way. One irrefutable reality that has emerged from this pandemic is that the traditional style will never remain the same.
A study by BCG, under the name, Turn the Tide, suggests that 80%+ consumers are likely to continue the practice of social distancing and are bringing the outside inside, 40%+ consumers are dialing up on health and wellness spends, e-commerce adoption has advanced by 2-3 years - to name a few. Out of leading developing economies which include China, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, the Philippines, and India, the surge in preference for online shopping is sharper in India. And as mentioned above, it is going to be long-lasting. The BCG study observed all the changes and covered many aspects to determine that India is witnessing a big surge in online shopping.
“We are experiencing unprecedented shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviors...These aren’t just temporary surges, and many will last longer and become more defining traits.”
- Nimisha Jain, Managing Director and Partner, Boston Consulting Group
Study by BCG
For instance, 51% of consumers saw an increase in payments via digital wallets. This is evident enough to prove the fact which we have been discussing, that the reliance on e-commerce has increased. Consumers in India are all acutely concerned with their money and if they are developing a trust for fund transfer, they are ready to shop anything online. This has been made possible through the assurance from companies about the product quality and better service. However, recently there is news that has left customers a bit apprehensive. Let us learn more about this ahead.
There have been complaints from the users of two big names in the e-commerce market, Flipkart and Amazon. Their users have lately been complaining about their return policy. Various numbers of users have witnessed account closure and blocking after they filed for a return of their online ordered products. The reason that these companies are coming up with is that the users have filed a return for a large number of products. Even they suspect them to be reselling the products, which is forbidden in the terms and conditions of these websites. However, many users denied any such incident, stating it to not be true. It remains to be seen how this issue is resolved so the users do not lose faith in e-commerce again.
The reliance on digital platforms for getting our work done has increased in the recent past. We expect it to grow even bigger, as the stats suggest. The role of e-commerce has been huge during this lockdown period. When people are unsure about the hygiene and cleanliness of products, e-commerce websites have provided assurance to their customers. Judging from the present scenario, it wouldn’t be long before the business of e-commerce expands and reaches every part of the country. Rural India is now ready to shop and trade online. At the same time, these platforms will also benefit local and small businesses in their growth.
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