E-commerce has grown to become the second-largest website category in the list of top Indian domains, partially thanks to a host of easy-to-integrate e-commerce platforms and partially thanks to the huge surge in mobile device sales across India. The Mobile Indian reports that e-commerce traffic accounts for around 14 percent of total web traffic; e-commerce sites are visited once for every two trips to a news site. How, then, can Indian users capitalise on the growth of e-commerce and turn it to their financial advantage? In this article, we’ll explore the most popular e-commerce sites and apps for mobile users in India, and compare the situation in India to that in other countries.
Google searches for ‘buy online’ have gradually risen worldwide over the past few years:
Data from Google Trends
Spiking around Christmas each year (as expected) the term ‘buy online’ is now one of the peak searches (‘100’ on the Google Search Index above). In India, the trend is even more radical:
E-commerce is booming in particular thanks to integration with Indian social media. India Social recently ran a piece on the growth of the platform, concluding that the market is growing by around 70 percent annually. They recommended Facebook-based e-commerce apps such as Payvment (supported by over 60,000 businesses), ShopTab (supporting e-commerce directly from a user page), Voiyk (Facebook fan page stores, with over 70,000 monthly active users), Shoutlet (a cross-social platform e-commerce platform) and 8th Bridge (integrating your e-commerce with your friends’ news feeds).
Other great Indian outlets include BlackBerry’s native Ecommerce Content Optimisation engine for BlackBerry software (accessible through a modern BlackBerry smartphone such as the BlackBerry Bold 3 smartphone– great if you want to avoid Apple’s price hikes and pay more sensible BlackBerry prices) and Amazon’s WindowShop feature, which is just begging to be adapted to the very visually-oriented Indian market.
Existing e-commerce sites, though experiencing heavy competition, still have plenty of opportunity. As a recent article on YourStory.in stated, “80% of the e-commerce shoppers of 2016 still are available [sic] to be nabbed by e-commerce sites”. That’s nearly 200 million potential customers. Getting their product placement right is critical for e-commerce providers seeking to crack this new market.
Localisation is one of the big challenges for Indian e-commerce. As the same YourStory.in article points out, the majority of first-time e-commerce users will be accessing the platform via a smartphone, and will expect a fluid and targeted experience. The article calls on a report from Forrester that claims localisation will be the third most critical driver of successful e-commerce adoption across the country. There’s truth to that – 1.2 billion potential customers are split by hundreds, if not thousands, of very specific and historic subcultures. Targeting the marketing right will make the biggest difference.
Of the apps targeting mobile-first e-commerce, Shopper for BlackBerry and eBay.in are possibly the most polished right now. Vast databases, simple shipping and wide varieties of payment options help to separate them from the competition. Price-comparison apps and sites are also very popular; sites such as compareindia help would-be customers to shave hundreds of rupees off each purchase, whether you’re looking for the best BlackBerry price, a new laptop, or the latest washing machine.