eCommerce is a rage in India currently. Some see it as the future while some see it as a sinking ship; many have been surfing on the tide to make the most of it while critics have been talking about scupper in the ship. The focal point has been on the face of eCommerce, the gazillion sites that are cropping up like bubbles that fizz up from a carbonated drink but there is a lot of activity that happens behind the scene which is gaining tremendous importance. We caught up with the enablers and facilitators to unveil the innards of this business.The Big Data Hoopla
“By 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions”, purports a Mckinsey Report. But what is this big data? Big data is basically a framework that collects, processes, visualizes and analyzes large amounts of data with an aim of deriving economic value from it. The size of this data sometimes runs into Petabytes.
“It ended up being called big data because the framework itself evolved from experience of organizations that were trying to perform such heavy duty processing of huge amounts of data” explains Shehjar from Unbxd, an analytics company.
For instance, a Wal-Mart may collect tons of information about how customers walk around within their stores and then it can analyze and visualize patterns in this data to enhance sales of products by placing them in the most effective locations in a store. Similarly, an e-commerce site might collect data regarding the browsing tendencies of its customers and derive conclusions from the hidden patterns.
Any product requires promotion for it to become a blockbuster and this requires enablers. Services like Referral candy come in handy here. “Referral Candy is a web application that makes it really easy for online retailers to run a customer referral program. Setting it up takes just an hour and once installed, the Referral Candy app automates your entire referral campaign and makes it measurable”, says Dinesh from Anafore, the makers of Referral Candy. The word of mouth is still of paramount value but word of click has evolved into something very important as well. Spreading the word on the net can open unforeseen avenues.
When online, Trust is all you need
Buying online is all about building trust. A customer won’t even buy a pencil if he’s not sure about who he is buying from. “Following regulations and complying with industry standards is the basis on which trust needs to be built. That is a given. For instance, if an ecommerce platform is not using proper security and encryption for storing passwords, it is simply not working for the best interests of its customers and consequently, its own interests” informs Shehjar.
Branding helps too. For instance, if you see the TV ads by financial services, you'll notice that they're by law required to display a notice to protect financial interests of those who may buy those financial products. Most show it in very small letters and for a short period on their TV ads in order to save cost. Edelweiss decided to change this in their ads to build trust by showing the same notice in big, bold letters and for a longer duration, even though it costs more. It clearly showed that they cared more about the viewer's interests than all the other financial services companies.
Just ‘Cash on Delivery’ or also ‘Cut on Deposits’ for the companies? More than 50% transactions go through the COD model but also there are considerably higher rejections and send-backs. COD is a very India specific model and it is opening up the minds of customers which is a must but in time the providers might want to phase out. “Enough exposure, increasing credit card penetration, better fraud protection and greater trust in retailers will move the bulk of payment transactions online to occur during the checkout process. However, this is unlikely to happen in the near future and we can expect to still see COD as well other payment innovation flourish in the Indian e-commerce scene” predicts Dinesh.
The mobile way
With the advent of smartphones, mobile surfing is becoming the preferred choice. It is projected that by 2014, mobile internet would exceed desktop internet usage in the United States. This trend would definitely come in later in India but the eCommerce companies’ ready for this trend will pick the initial market.
“There are technical differences, but those differences depend on what kind of user experience does the website owner want to provide to its customers. For instance, every web page is viewable on mobile web browsers these days. However, the screen size, the keyboard layout and touch screen would enable the same website to provide a far better user experience on mobiles if the website owner decided to create a mobile centric version of his website. Thats when the technical differences come in. The degree of the technical differences depends on what parts of the website need to be designed separately for mobiles”, explains Shejhar about the technical differences that would arise when he owner takes his company mobile.
A tip from Unbxd
To handle the fast growth rates in Indian e-commerce market, players will have to have a strong technology backing their operations. At the same time, in order to maintain focus on growing their business, they'll have to avoid re-inventing the wheel as far as possible and this applies especially to technology operations. E-commerce enablers can help e-commerce players avoid such a re-invention of the wheel by providing products and services that enable the growth of business of the e-commerce players. The enablers are able to provide advanced yet cost-effective products and services because of the benefits of economies of scale that show up when the enabling products and services are used by more than a few online retailers.
- Jubin Mehta