As the COVID-19 pandemic upended lives and livelihoods almost overnight, companies across several verticals faced its wrath with plummeting business and revenues. However, for a few sectors such as ed-tech and e-commerce, 2020 has been a surprisingly good year. Despite several tectonic shifts in trends and even fundamental operations, India’s e-commerce industry has triumphed against all odds in this challenging year.
With several defining moments over the year, the e-commerce industry has matured and observed steady upward growth even amidst the pandemic, which has further enlarged the sector’s scope for 2021. As 2020 draws to an end and we gear up to step into the New Year, let us take a look at some of the trends that are most likely to shape the Indian e-commerce industry in 2021.
Fortified Omnichannel Strategies
In 8-9 months, we have witnessed consumers displaying a shift towards a safety-conscious preference for convenience. As per the Deloitte State of the Consumer Tracker, 73 percent of Indian respondents were willing to spend more money on convenience. In response to this, brands are now adapting to the new normal by ramping up efforts to make customer experience consistent across various channels.
Besides, they are also focusing on creating targeted and more personalized experiences to enhance customer retention, acquisition, and satisfaction. Brands are now increasing their efforts in bolstering their omnichannel strategies and moving to customer-centric business models rather than sticking to the channel-centric ones. For instance, there will be a surge in the ‘Buy Online Pickup In-Store’ (BOPIS) model which will become mainstream, particularly with FMCG and low order value clients.
All Things Digital
Recent years have seen a considerable rise in the adoption of technology across the country and the pandemic has accelerated this. Increased internet proliferation and smartphone usage have paved the way for consumers to opt for online shopping methods such as mobile commerce and social commerce on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Snapchat.
Furthermore, with cutting-edge technology making its way into every aspect of business in the e-commerce sector, brands are expected to enhance customer experience by deploying AI and AR systems such as chatbots, online assistance, recommendations, virtual trial rooms, etc. Players in the e-commerce sector will also experiment with live and pre-recorded video commerce with third-party platforms as well as their own platforms and will look to integrate social commerce as another online sub-channel.
Speaking of digital, the payments segment is one of the crucial aspects of increasingly digitally-savvy consumers. Although digital payments in the e-commerce segment caught on quickly amongst Indian consumers, the pandemic facilitated a massive upsurge in the number of consumers opting for digital payments. This, along with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) urging people to avoid using cash for transactions has even made consumers who aren’t very tech-savvy and first-time users jump on the digital payments’ bandwagon. Consumers will now be more comfortable opting for contactless payment options. Alongside this, brands will also be increasing their focus on payment integrations, loyalty programs, and introduce membership programs similar to Amazon Prime to expand their customer base and retention.
‘Vocal for Local’
With India’s vision of becoming Aatmanirbhar, the ‘Vocal for Local’ movement, an initiative to make India self-sufficient, has been gaining immense traction. Brands are encouraging consumers to opt for locally made/sourced products and the movement is catching on amongst consumers who are consciously making an effort to support local businesses. Over the next year, brands will leverage virtue-signaling online through the ‘locally sourced’, ‘Made in India’, and other such positive attributions, with an increased focus on authenticity and transparency.
Apart from the ‘Vocal for Local’ and ‘Made in India’ movements, another trend that is quickly catching on is the consumer preference for sustainability. With several people and environmental activists and organizations voicing out their thoughts on social media concerning sustainability, there has been a major surge in awareness amongst consumers. So, it is expected that over the next few years, the preference for brands advocating sustainability and environment-friendly products will see a rise in their consumer base.
India’s e-commerce industry has emerged with little damage from the global crisis and is on the right path to growing exponentially in the post-pandemic era. The aforementioned trends are some of the crucial ones that will shape the course the lucrative industry takes in the next year.