Just the other day, I was speaking at an event and someone asked me, “Are deal sites really working because we hear of only a few of them now”. And I realised, he was right! When we started mydala in 2009, there were around 38 deals in our competition tracker, and today we have less than a handful. That’s the deal with the e-commerce scenario globally and especially more so inIndia; whenever an idea takes off, there are many entrepreneurs and investors, who are ready to get on to the same bandwagon, simply because the idea worked somewhere in the world. However in the long run, most concepts either fail or pivot to a new business model primarily on account of not being able to adjust to the market or the ground realities they operate in.
I’ve been in this business for the last five years, and let me tell you, despite the ups and downs, ecommerce is the most exciting space to be in. There is tremendous scope for innovation, ideation and sheer brilliance. Many of our modern day icons are digital entrepreneurs who have used the web to leave a positive impact on people’s lives. That’s the power of the Internet.
The year gone by has seen some interesting trends that are worth recounting:
Growth in mobile
Our phone has really changed the way we function. I personally use my phone to book movie tickets, look for a nice place to eat and shop for stuff while on-the-go. As the mobile internet traffic now outweighs personal computer traffic, the preference of mobile devices over desktops/PCs is steadily increasing. We had anticipated this growth way back, and decided that the future is mobile. Today, more than 80 per cent of our traffic is through mobile.
Goldmine beyond Tier 1
Most online retailers can’t think beyond the metros. If they are doing well in the tier 1 cites, they are happy. However, if we look beyond Tier 1, we’ll realise we have a wealth of opportunity. According to a report by Forrester Consulting, the number of online shoppers in Tier-3 cities is the highest, with every second person shopping online through their mobile. Companies who have focussed on Tier 2 and 3 cities are not only doing well, but flourishing. We see this in demographically similar countries to India such as China as well.
Coupons are alive and kicking!
Contrary to popular perception, digital coupons are keeping up with the times and are still very relevant as omni-channel retail becomes the norm. A strong majority of consumers will redeem a digital coupon code within three days of receiving it, and nearly one-third will redeem it immediately. The latest report by Motilal Oswal Securities states that the online coupon/discount marketing segment has flourished alongside the surge in ecommerce in both the US and China. Having lived in the US, I know for a fact that shoppers there are not just avid online shoppers but also have that mind-set that they will first look for coupons before shopping. In China, coupons are a billion-dollar industry, even bigger than the US, and players like meituan are thriving. When we started, customers had a certain reluctance to go for coupons, and today we sell more than 200,000 coupons a day! Bottom line is everyone is looking for a deal on their desktops, tablets or phones!
And here’s what we can look forward to in 2015:
Online grocery to be the next-big-thing
Most Indians love to physically inspect a product before buying it, especially if it is an edible product. That’s why it’s quite a surprise that shoppers have taken to online grocery shopping in a big way. Most people are so busy that they look online even for their weekly groceries. We have recently ventured into this vertical and offer grocery listings to users. Even while we were testing the waters, we received a fabulous response and most big brands were eager to hop online with us. So we really need to watch this space!
Small scale retailers to create a splash
Small businesses that were earlier struggling to get a presence online, have now found a foothold selling products and services and marketing themselves online. There are also more platforms for them to showcase their business online. Big umbrella sales like Google’s Online Shopping Festival are giving small merchants a chance to reach out to a wider audience, and we need more platforms like these. mydala is one of the easiest marketing platforms for small businesses to get online with, and going by our experience with them, the small scale retailers will create a major splash online.
The tribe of ‘bargain-seekers’ will increase
As the number online shoppers increases, so will the number of people looking of discounts and exclusive offers. The online customer base which was a mere 8 million in 2012, has climbed to 35 million in 2014, and by 2016 is expected to be 100 million — a phenomenal growth of over 12 times in just four years. Not just Indians, its human nature to look for some savings while shopping, and I foresee that more and more people will look at greater discounts and greater savings while buying stuff online.
Besides this, in 2014 there was a lot of unpleasantness amongst consumers when ecommerce giants had bumper sales which went totally kaput. I’m hoping that similar incidents are not repeated in 2015.
The write up is part of the DMA Annual Report ‘What’s Trending 2015′. To book your own hard copy of the Annual, write to firstname.lastname@example.org