With the Indian festive season just around the corner, the country’s retail and ecommerce giants are leaving no stones unturned to woo their customers. This year’s festive season is all the more important for the country’s ecommerce sector, as the financial disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic saw almost all ecommerce players suffer a loss of revenue. As the sales of non-essentials was restricted through ecommerce platforms during the first couple of months of hard lockdown, every online (and offline) player is working on IT infrastructure, logistics, supply chain and sales and marketing to make their strong presence felt across customer segments.
Major e-commerce players Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal are ramping up their logistics capabilities to ensure that the festive season demand can be fulfilled.
For example, Amazon India, which will host its Great Indian Festival sale from October 17, added a new fulfillment center in Kolar, which the company claims as the largest in the country. With this addition, the ecommerce platform now has more than 4 million cubic feet across four fulfillment centres in India. Its other sort centres are also leveraging technology and automation to increase the speed of transporting packages for customers and sellers in the country.
Walmart-owned ecommerce giant Flipkart, which will host its Big Billion Days sale from October 16-21, has partnered with more than 100 brands this festive season to help bring their wide range of products across 2,000 fashion stores onto the e-commerce marketplace. This partnership – spread across more than 300 cities – will enable brands to showcase their available retail selection to near-by pincode, helping customers get visibility to a wider selection and then delivered to them through its supply chain.
“The future of shopping is an integrated model where the lines will be blurred, ultimately creating a win-win situation for consumers, brands and sellers,” Nishit Garg, Vice President – Flipkart Fashion, said in a statement.
“With this approach, we are bridging the gap that currently exists for firstly, aspiring customers in tier 3 cities and beyond, who are seeking the best of current fashion trends, but have limited access; and secondly, for customers in metros who are seeking fresh fashion in a minimum time-frame,” he added.
Other ecommerce companies are also not far behind when it comes to strengthening their logistics and network infrastructure. Snapdeal, which announced its festive sale from October 16-20, expanded its logistics network by opening 25 new centres at manufacturing hubs across 10 cities in India and Flipkart-owned online fashion marketplace Myntra has received a fund infusion of $103 million from Flipkart’s Singapore-based subsidiary FK Myntra Holdings.
Paytm Mall said that this year’s sale focusing on MSMEs would be bigger than ever with over 5,500 brands participating in the event.
Abhishek Rajan, COO, Paytm Mall said, “Over the last several months, the company has seen over 2X growth in sales in categories including groceries, consumer durables, work-from-home essentials, grooming electronics, toys, and kidswear among others.”
Reliance’s recent acquisition of Future Retail and its existing apparel offerings through Reliance Trends, Ajio.com would be a plus for JioMart’s offerings. JioMart is also reportedly getting ready with deep discounts across fashion and consumer electronics to counter Amazon and Flipkart.
The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted the rate of technology adoption in the retail sector. While technology was an enabler, it graduated to become a necessity for both retailers and consumers on the ongoing pandemic.
A report by Unicommerce, an e-commerce focused SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform, showed that India’s e-commerce industry witnessed an order volume growth of 31% for Q3 2020 ended in September, as compared to the same period last year.
Consumer electronics continues to command the largest share of the online retail trade, followed by footwear, pharmacy and apparel. Retailers are also looking at omni-channel or digital activation in categories such as fashion, home, jewellery, especially in the post-Covid world that is already nudging brands to scale up their presence online.
“With the increasing focus of companies on investing in online channels and rising interest in adopting technology solutions to improve business operations, we firmly believe this growth momentum will continue for the next few quarters,” said Kapil Makhija, CEO, Unicommerce.
“There is a huge demand for organized retail in India, currently at 17-18%. Going forward this share is bound to increase owing to shoppers and businesses increasingly preferring cleaner and more hygienic shopping spaces. In this category, commercial redevelopments at the center of a thriving market are fast catching up which not just gives a safe,” Mohit Goel, CEO, Omaxe said.
He believes that leveraging of technology in ensuring contactless and safe shopping experience to customers has become a priority for retailers and mall owners amid the transmission risk of the pandemic and the trend is here to stay.
As Covid prompts more retailers to look at new ways of reaching shoppers the share of Indian e-commerce is predicted to grow from the current 4% of the country’s overall food and grocery, fashion, consumer electronics retail trade to 8% by 2025, according to a white paper by Technopak Advisors.
India’s retail trade—largely unorganized and still dominated by small stores, and run by independent entrepreneurs—is set to undergo greater changes as the pandemic-induced restrictions accelerate digital adoption and drive new shoppers to get online in the coming quarters.