The shift to e-commerce has been a long time coming and was always going to be the future of the sector. However, the pandemic has turbocharged us into the future faster than most brands are prepared for. Many small and medium-sized brands as well as Fortune-500 companies do not have the immediate capabilities or skills to shift to the highly competitive online marketplace this quickly.
To succeed in driving traffic to a product webpage and convert online browsers into loyal buyers, businesses need to understand how the online shopper searches, compares and buys for a specific category. Traditional shopping behaviors do not universally translate to the digital marketplace. A data-driven approach can help with this problem, by using customer and marketplace insights to identify and address weaknesses and opportunities and formulate an effective e-commerce strategy.
Companies seeking e-commerce growth through a data-driven approach should start by gathering information on these core success principles:
In e-commerce, the consumer journey starts with a search for a product or service using a keyword. The majority of customers ‘spearfish’ by entering a keyword for the product they are seeking thereby specifying their interest. Understanding keyword traffic patterns in the marketplace is the starting point for a successful data-driven strategy. This approach allows businesses to discover the implicit and explicit preferences of customers and adapt to meet their demands.
Conversion follows traffic, as both are directly correlated to product visibility. By improving SEO through the right optimisation, products are more visible; hence conversion is more likely to happen. Conversion, however, is not the only characteristic of good SEO. Once a customer lands on a product page, multiple factors will impact their decision, including content, price, reviews, availability, sellers, promotions, and more. Without having visibility on conversion metrics, businesses are not able to optimise to capture sales.
Tracking internal sales numbers is good, but monitoring external sales data is better! Understanding business performance compared to competitors and the total size of the market on any given platform allows brands to see a wider picture. With this data, brands can set benchmarks and understand category trends. If businesses are not able to benchmark and analyse the market, then they will be operating in a blind.
While the formula, Traffic X Conversion = Sales, seems straightforward, the availability of data remains a black hole for many and is arduous, maybe even impossible, for a human to analyse manually. Implementing automated smart tech into a business can open access to valuable data points and quickly transform pages of insights into actionable tasks and growth strategies.
To find a quality e-commerce technology partner, businesses should look for experts that can deliver insights on ratings and reviews, content analytics, search terms, buy box tracking, inventory analytics, and price tracking, all on a user-friendly dashboard. For external data, an effective competitive intelligence tool needs to track the shopper journey from keyword to purchase, across all the products sold on a marketplace.
Having access to data is not complete without scaling a business through paid advertising. Choosing the right keywords that pierce through consumers' ocean of choices can be the most challenging aspect for brands. Not knowing what the consumer is searching for and bidding on specific keywords without knowing their value is a risky wager. A smart advertising automation tool can be used to help ensure a company’s campaigns are optimised efficiently and in real-time.
Online shopping has grown exponentially, becoming the new normal way to buy. Retailers need to embrace this shift and focus on growing their e-commerce by deploying a data-first approach and integrating smart tools into their business. Data can drive sales by improving personalisation, customer engagement, reach and conversion, all critical for success in the highly competitive online marketplace.
India’s retail industry is undergoing an unprecedented transformation driven by technological disruptions, evolving consumer behavior and new innovations redefining the retail experience. As Deloitte’s ‘Future of Retail’ report observes, these pivotal forces have set the stage for online retail to surge 5X over the next 7 years. With projections indicating e-commerce growing at 25 percent annually until 2030 compared to offline retail’s 10 percent, digital channels are primed to dominate India’s $1.5 trillion retail market in the years ahead.
Decoding the Underlying Market Drivers
As per the latest retail industry data, India’s Tier II and III cities have begun overshadowing metros as the next e-commerce frontier. In 2022, order volumes from Tier III cities witnessed 65 percent year-on-year growth, and Tier II cities saw 50 percent expansion. In contrast, Tier I cities clocked a modest 10 percent increase over the same period. Given this divergence, industry projections indicate Tier II and III cities will continue dramatically outpacing their Tier I counterparts in online order growth rates over the next decade.
Attractive value propositions like wider product choices, discounted offerings, convenience, and personalized engagement are driving smaller cities to warm up much faster to e-commerce adoption even within an inflationary climate. For retailers chasing the next wave of growth, the writing is clear – India’s underpenetrated towns and cities housing over 900 million people hold the key to market leadership.
Rising Data Analytics Creating Asymmetric Advantages
As consumer interactions increasingly shift online, data is creating radical differentiation between legacy retailers and digital-first brands leading tech-driven transformation-commerce majors are setting new benchmarks in leveraging analytics across areas – from inventory planning aligned to local consumption patterns to predictive demand forecasting models minimizing stock-out situations.
Delivering Relevant and Personalized Experiences
Hyper-personalization represents the new battleground as customers expect communications, recommendations, and experiences to reflect their individual preferences. Indian shoppers are willing to spend more with retailers who can effectively tap into the power of data to tailor offerings aligning with their needs and interests. Brands leveraging AI and ML to deduce insights from purchase journeys and browsing behavior hold an edge in continually customizing engagement across channels.
The Way Forward: A Roadmap for Retailers
Adopt Omnichannel Strategies Aligned with Evolving Consumption: As smaller cities drive more than 60 percent of e-commerce volumes, retailers need a presence across online and offline channels with a hyperlocal outreach to tap into growth opportunities beyond metros. Localization, vernacular interfaces, and experiential stores are key.
Build Intelligent Supply Chains Resilient to Disruptions: Invest in data integration across the value chain to obtain end-to-end visibility. Leverage analytics for demand planning, inventory optimization, and predictive maintenance. This can minimize stock-outs, and ensure faster deliveries while improving supply chain profitability.
Deliver Personalization through Customer Analytics: Capture every customer interaction and apply analytics to discern behavioral patterns. Offer contextually relevant recommendations via multiple channels. Personalize communication and marketing content based on purchase history and search trends.
The Pivot to Experience-First Retail Powered by Technology
As the Indian shopper gets more evolved and demanding, customer experience across retail journeys is emerging as the biggest differentiator for both customer acquisition and retention. Retailers unlocking the power of analytics and technology to elevate personalized engagement, and minimize friction while tailoring experiences to align with local preferences will lead to market dominance in the future. The secret sauce for success lies in using data and innovation to blend online convenience with offline experiential retail - a trend that will further accelerate as India ascends into a trillion-dollar consumer market.
Prerna Kalra, Co-founder & CEO of Daalchini Technologies
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