COVID-19 shifted the whole ecosystem of markets and has made an impact that can be deemed long-lasting. Consumer behaviour has seen a change, purchase decisions have seen a shift and the usual flow of businesses is left disrupted. But along with the many disruptions, this pandemic has brought about changes and enhanced technological growth. The eCommerce and marketplace sector have specifically witnessed this growth.
India has seen a rise in the number of FTUs or first-time-eCommerce-users in India, who had previously been inhibited to shop online. Some eCommerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal have even returned to the level of pre-COVID time. Other eCommerce players like Grofers, BigBasket, Lenskart, etc have also seen a rapid increase in various services. Many new players are entering into this marketplace noting the opportunities available. eCommerce companies can further expect:
- An influx of online shopping:
As stated with a record number of FTUs in India and brick-and-mortar and kirana stores closed and with lower footfall than usual, there is an increase in sales on eCommerce platforms. There has been a switch from malls and supermarkets to eCommerce for everyday commodities. Companies can use this to their advantage and provide good deals. Companies like BigBasket had seen such an influx and demand of goods that they had to restrict access to their website to existing customers only, while Grofers – a rival, had faced a similar situation.
A conversation with TN Hari, Head of HR from Big Basket in April 2020 helped gain insight into changing consumer behaviour and adaptations to the new normal. As rightly predicted, the shift from offline to online in all sectors has been perceived as the need for the hour.
- More efficient and convenient models:
Online shopping offers the convenience of not having to go out to shop and waste time waiting in lines and scrolling through items, all it takes is just a click on a button to purchase a product that will be delivered right at your doorstep. However, eCommerce platforms should ensure efficiency in logistics and supply chain flow. Myntra’s End of Reason Sale had integrated and collaborated 400 offline stores of more than 60 brands. The items that were purchased shipped directly from the brands’ stores to the consumer’s doorsteps. Allowing for a more seamless supply chain and providing convenience to the consumers. There is also a significant rise in the number of convenient shopping models like BNPL gaining prominence among the Indian consumers.
- Increase in essential and corona virus-related products:
Shopping habits and consumer behaviour has seen change during the pandemic. Ecommerce companies are being required to sell essential items as a way to have an edge and meet consumer demands. Products like soaps, sanitizers and health care items have a market of its own now. ePharmacy has seen an increase in India, with numerous investors looking on ways to invest in ePharm companies. Amazon has also noticed the shift in consumer behaviour and adapting to the pandemic is said to have prioritised delivery of essential items garnering appreciation and an increase in its sales from customers.
- Digital transformation:
Kirana stores have been the crux of Indian System. But, now with the virus outbreak, people are looking out for alternatives. This has offered digitalisation and upskilling of Kirana stores to adapt to changes. Companies like Flipkart in an attempt to streamline this unorganised sector have tied up with these stores for provisions and delivery while still supporting their development.
This pandemic has gauged a segment of shoppers that previously have not purchased online to now rely on it. Consumer buying habits are constantly changing and companies need to follow efficient ways to get FTUs hooked on while still retaining existing customers.
With the rising adoption of Omnichannel solutions across sectors and focus on digital transformation eCommerce companies have seen and will continue to see tremendous opportunity and growth amidst COVID.