The m commerce game
The m commerce game

Internet penetration along with the exponential growth in smart phones, tablets and other web-enabled mobile devices has led mobile commerce to take off in India. mCommerce is becoming important not just for operators, but also for consumers who are using their mobile phone as a window to transact ‘anytime & anywhere’.

Ebay India recently released a mCommerce survey report that brings out interesting trends on mCommerce in India. Muralikrishnan B, Country Manager, eBay India shares his further insights on the same….

Neha Malhotra (NM): What is the USP of the online shopping behaviour in India? How is it different from the experience that one gets from a mobile device?

Muralikrishnan B (MB): Online shopping offers clear benefits of access to great variety of products, availability of great deals and convenience of 24 X 7 shopping in the comfort of your home with doorstep delivery, which is the biggest USP. For buyers in Tier 2 or 3 cities, the additional advantage is that they are able to access products which traditional distribution channels have not yet brought to their city. For example, the iPhone 4s may be available in metros currently but non metro buyers may want to buy them.

Redefining the future of shopping, the innovative mobile web service ensures a pleasant mobile shopping experience to all Indian consumers making it more personal, convenient, fast and safe.

NM: How is mCommerce doing in the country? What are the differentiating factors for the same when compared to the industry abroad?

MB: Mobile Commerce is starting to gain traction in India with the burgeoning smart phone penetration and a large number of Indians now using their smart phone to shop as well as compare prices. The eBay India Mobile Commerce Report, based on the survey findings taken from 4500 eBay India users in May 2012, has indicated the following trends on how mCommerce is growing in India:

  • Over 94% of Indian smart phone users access the internet on their mobile
  • Home is the favourite access point for the mobile internet
  • Shopping is the third most popular category of search after emails & social networking: 70% of smart phone users access online shopping websites
  • Over 87% of Indian smart phone users compare Product Prices online
  • 57% of smart shoppers check prices online before they shop in a mall or a store. Over 30% of users have stated that they always find better deals online & 49% have stated that they ‘Mostly’ find better deals online
  • 68% of users have made an online purchase using their smart phone: Digital Commerce is gaining traction with Indian smart phone users.
  • Gadgets are the most popular online purchases:  68% of mobile internet users have bought gadgets on their smart phone followed by 40% who have bought clothes & footwear & 34% who have bought books
  • Mobile Commerce Users are savvy shoppers & use their smart phones to check product prices (84%). Other popular activities are to locate a store (65%), research product features (57%), find deals (55%), and check product availability (48%)
  • Samsung & Nokia (40% each) are the smart phone of choice for the Mobile Indian. The iPhone (17%) is the third most popular smart phone brand
The mCommerce industry in India is going through a growth phase with the increased adoption of the internet & smart phones by Indian online shoppers who are discovering its benefits. Consumers have evolved from just checking emails & news on their mobile to even shopping online. In the mature markets, the consumers are more evolved and well aware about technological advancements, they use the mobile to shop extensively to grab the best deals and offers. Indian consumers are opening up to mCommerce at an astounding rate and the industry is progressively shooting upwards. Going ahead, mainstream mobile payment will also set in, which will lead to a tremendous growth of mCommerce in the country.

NM: What are the key learnings in this context? What can take mCommerce to the next level in the country?

MB: Internet penetration along with the exponential growth in smart phones, tablets and other web-enabled mobile devices has led mobile commerce to take off in India. mCommerce is becoming important not just for operators, but also for consumers who are using their mobile phone as a window to transact ‘anytime & anywhere’. mCommerce offers consumers a large store in their pocket. Online shopping and mobile shopping have their own set of advantages where online shopping provides consumers to shop online at the leisure of their homes while mCommerce allows buyers to shop while on the go. Thus, mCommerce complements eCommerce and together make Digital Commerce more robust.

mCommerce will continue to grow steadily as 3G penetration increases, smart phone devices become cheaper & consumer spend more time on their mobile. Many consumers may access the internet on their mobile rather than on the web & there may be a set of consumers who access both interchangeably - find and buy on the mobile, pay on the web etc. Mainstream mobile payment will also significantly increase the adoption of mCommerce in India. Mobile apps make the mobile internet experience even richer & increase the time consumers spend on the mobile internet.

NM: How have you seen the growth curve for mCommerce in the country? What have been the boosters for the same?

MB: Last year eBay India introduced a suite of Mobile Apps for the iPhone, Nokia & the Android allowing users to shop conveniently from their mobile device. It is very likely that a majority of the next 100 million internet users in India, will have their first and pre-dominant experience of internet on mobile devices, either Smartphones or tablets. Today, less than 5% of traffic comes from mobiles (transactions are even lesser). Our key focus around mobiles in 2012 is to get greater penetration of eBay India apps (iOS and Android) and encourage people to use this as a device to check prices before shopping offline, thereby reach for your phone before you reach for your wallet. So the idea is to create an entire generation of smarter shoppers. Currently in India mobile payment systems are just non-existent. However, we are quite confident that solutions will come-up in the next 18-24 months. You have the likes of Airtel launching a mobile wallet already.

NM: The survey shares the number of internet users from the smart phone category. How about the total number of mobile users in general? How does mCommerce penetration fare in totality?

MB: The survey was open to all mobile phone users who shop through mobile phones. However, in the findings Smart Phone users were seen indulging in mCommerce more than users with basic phones.

mCommerce has increasingly grown over the last year due to smartphone penetration and enhanced 3G services. Indian consumers have evolved overtime and are open to trying new offerings. We have seen a lot of traction through our mobile applications on the iPhone, Android and Nokia platforms. We are fairly confident that by 2013 mobile payment solution will be available in India (with or without a wallet). People are going to spend more time surfing the web on their phone rather than their computer.

NM: What are the expected trends in the times to come for mCommerce in the country? What shall be the growth parameters?

MB: As the consumption basket is becoming dearer with the fall of rupee, consumers are increasingly seeking the best prices & value for their spends. Mobile phones will be the optimum channel for instant online-offline price comparisons, boosting Mobile Assisted Commerce in 2012.

The penetration of mobile phones in the country is 8 to 9 times more than the internet penetration. This clearly demonstrates the sheer potential of mCommerce in India. mCommerce will see a robust growth once mobile payment solutions emerge.



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