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Global m-commerce sales to cross USD 638 billion by 2018

Global ecommerce sales made via mobile devices are expected to cross USD 638 billion by 2018, according to a joint study by ASSOCHAM and Deloitte.

“Currently, the availability of ecommerce applications on various mobility devices is helping to drive sales and revenue. E-tailers like Flipkart, Amazon and Jabong now get 50 per cent of their revenues from consumers shopping on their mobile phones. Predictive analytics is helping the e-tailers provide better solutions in real-time enabling compelling user experience even on mobile screens,” said D S Rawat, Secretary General of ASSOCHAM.

However, while shoppers want real-time, relevant, and personalised information and offers, retailers will need to surround this service with very strong privacy and security. Trust, transparency, and protecting customer information will be critical in retaining loyalty as mobile retailing becomes the norm, noted the joint study.

Ecommerce companies should enable all features from search-to-purchase on mobile apps, such as facilitating product research, price comparison, view ratings and reviews, and payment.

The launch of wearables, such as Google Glass and Apple Watch, opens new opportunities for reaching out to customers. E-tailers would keep an eye on developments in this arena, although it might only be an urban phenomenon at the moment.

The e-marketplaces are growing significantly with the increase in the Internet penetration and Smartphone usage. Internet enabled mobiles are making shopping a unique experience for buyers. E-marketplaces provide a technology platform for sellers to participate and a trusted environment to scale up rapidly, increase profit and is highly valued by the customers. The non-inventory led B2C model also allows the e-commerce players to provide attractive discounts and offers which are difficult for inventory led brick-and-mortar shops as well as for pure e-tailers.

According to the joint study ‘Global Powers of Retailing 2015’, online marketplaces rather than pure inventory-led companies tend to serve as the primary ecommerce model in Asia. The high costs of holding inventory, poor logistics and supply chain challenges in India are shifting the inventory-led companies and new entrants to adopt marketplace model. e-marketplaces also work well in India due to high fragmentation on supply side.

The rise of online sales in the developing markets is encouraging retailers to go online for global expansion. The e-retailers are becoming exclusive partners for different brands. The Chinese smartphone manufacturer, Xiaomi, entered Indian market through Flipkart e-marketplace that helped it to reach a large customer base in a short time. Similarly, OnePlus teamed up with Amazon India for exclusive partnership.

Increasingly, social media is becoming important for ecommerce players to understand reviews of people on products and services. The e-tailers can check their social media footprint with the number of likes and tweets about the brand and products. Social media provides a platform to directly interact with customers and respond to their queries.

E-retailers can promote products as per the trending topics in social media channels. The brand pages can post expert opinions on the products in video or blogs and thus can help in better customer engagement. The social media also provides a suitable platform to perform extensive market research where the e-tailers can recognise changing customer habits, unmet demands, white spaces in market, get early feedback on test advertisements and can gain fast mover advantage.

Online retail players have started to use social media analytics. The analytics can be used to mitigate risks and frauds, to know customer lifetime value, customer segments, forecasting and targeting. The analysis of social media data can provide information on product demand, competitors pricing, customers buying behaviour, etc. Prior knowledge of this data can significantly help in customisation of service offerings and enhancing user experience. Optimised pricing can be done based on price comparison with the competitor’s products and accordingly changes can be done in real-time.

Cash on Delivery (CoD) is the most preferred mode of payment in India with 45 per cent of the shoppers using it while 21 per cent shoppers opt for debit cards and another 16 per cent go for credit cards. CoD mode has many issues ranging from high direct and indirect costs, security, or time taken to reverse logistics arising from CoD defaults. More people have banking access due to the financial inclusion project – Jan Dhan Yojna of the Indian government. Digital companies such as Paytm, Videocon D2H, and telecom operators such as Airtel, Idea are entering the banking arena with payment bank license. Emerging cashless payment solutions will boost the e-commerce sector.