Log in and splurge, anywhere, anytime

Today, e-commerce has become a norm more than an option. Limitations on time, flexibility of payment options, receiving products from the comfort of homes, being able to compare prices and product variations, has made e-commerce engaging to customers world-wide

The digital age has introduced humans to gadgets for various facilities, amenities and of course information. The generation Z and generation Alpha (the generation next to gen Z and those who are around 10) are growing up in the digital era, a world that is connected through social networks and social media at large. Updates happen almost instantly no matter where one is and news and data spreads like wildfire within minutes. So, it is no surprise that the digital era has seen the explosion of e-commerce. Just about everything from your neighbourhood grocer to the largest of large brands make their presence felt on social media and entices prospective buyers with constant interaction.

Constant interaction is the buzz word here. Weaving a story around their products, creating an emotional connect and transforming a click to view to click to pay in a matter of seconds – is how the organisations and SMEs do business these days, says Business Strategist and Astro Consultant Hirav Shah.

Yes, brick and mortar businesses still make sense and nothing can replace the joy of walking around the store, holding and touching a product, feeling it, smelling it and tasting it. But the downside of the digital age is lack of time and being continuously hooked to digital gadgets.

So, the marketers, researchers, cultural commentators, most importantly social influencers take on the onus of creating a virtual bubble in which the prospective consumer or buyer gets bits and bytes of information about a whole range of products, not just in his geographic domain, but also from all around the globe. The e-commerce or doing business on digital platforms has now become a way of life. I, as a corporate guru, business consultant and astro strategist, foresee a bright future for the e-commerce industry, that is thriving and sucking in customers in scores. And it’s not just the urban consumers; e-commerce has reached far-away corners of the world.

Let’s check out some common FAQs about the now well-established and widely-spread industry…

1) How does one define e-commerce?

Electronic commerce or e-commerce (sometimes written as eCommerce) is a business model that lets firms and individuals buy and sell things over the internet. E-commerce operates in all of the following major market segments: Business to business, business to consumer and consumer to consumer.

Transaction of money, funds, and data are also considered as e-commerce.

Online stores like

  • Amazon,
  • Flipkart,
  • Shopify,
  • Myntra,
  • Ebay,
  • Quikr,
  • Olx are some of the examples of e-commerce websites.

But e-commerce is not restricted to multi-million or multi-billion dollar industries. As mentioned above, it can provide a platform for brick and mortar and even smaller businesses that are run from temporary locations, says Business Strategist Hirav Shah.

2) How is e-commerce user-friendly, both for sellers and consumers or customers?

a) Cutting down of overall costs: As per statistics, nearly 33 percent of customers use their mobile phones to shop. One of the major advantages of an e-commerce site is that it is cost-effective for the seller. Often sellers have the burden of paying rents, maintaining stock, staff, coughing up for repairs, shop design, inventory and the works.

b) But even small businesses which cannot afford a physical location can get into business in e-commerce mode. It’s also ideal for people who don’t have start-up capital.

E-commerce assures better ROI and profits as the input costs reduce drastically.

c) Consumer flexibility: The consumers or customers can get to see products 24×7. That provides great flexibility for users as they don’t have to fix up a time to shop. They can pick things as per their convenience and choice.
Then there are added advantages like free shipping (depending on the price of the order), subscription deals and discounts.

    • Also, by asking for reviews, one can know how a product or products are selling. Good reviews invariably bring in returning customers and also the sellers can be sure of new customers making purchases. These write-ups also help the seller to identify best selling and fast selling products.
    • Flexi timings help sellers build a customer base and rest assured of profits.

3) Quicker buying process

The sellers can be assured of quicker buying as a whole variety of products are available at one go. The consumers/ customers can choose and pick products that are not available in their immediate vicinity. They can place orders from far off places and still get it delivered to their doorstep.
This works wonders on the psyche of the buyers as they can get their products from the comfort of their home. Things become easy as the consumers/ customers can search for an item, see the description and add it to the cart within minutes.

4) Convenient product listing

Product listing is crucial for any website. That’s the first step for any purchase as the consumers or customers browse through the listings to get the item or service of their choice. Creating a listing takes very little time and all one has to do is use the product name or codes like EAN, UPC, ISBN or ASIN. The sellers can categorise their inventory under various sub-heads and the customers can make their own personal product listing.

  • Another advantage is that the sellers can add multiple images with a description, product category, price, shipping date, delivery date, accessibility to customer pincode, product details, etc.
  • Some golden rules for product listing – 1) Always make sure to use high resolution pictures so that the products are clear. 2) Do stick to image dimensions. 3) Provide multiple product views as customers/ consumers will want to know the product better. 4) In case you are adding product variants, then make sure each variant has its specific image. 5) A huge plus is that e-commerce product listing is free to upload and fast.
  • This is where the difference between online and offline stores turns glaring. Offline stores can provide some details to the customer and will have to repeat the same data to every customer. However, in online market space, if you describe the product once, then people will read it. Additionally, reviews, demo videos, offers can also be mentioned.
  • Last but not the least, the listing is within the reach of the customer 24×7. Meanwhile, sellers can add multiple listings or remove items that are sold out or at least mark items as sold out.

5) Advertising and marketing is cost-effective

E-commerce marketplace has several, affordable ways to market online. One can make use of advertising tools to show off their products. Visual imagery and videos can also be added. Instead of boring text, coupons, quality content and sponsored ads can be included. A mention of customised deals can also be made, so the consumers or customers can take full advantage of them.

Many sites also offer analytics to gauge sales and profits. There are also insight tools that will help the seller keep track of pending, unshipped, sent, cancelled, returns.

6) Comparison is made simple

E-commerce gives sellers an edge and helps them figure out product alternatives and the standard rates or if a product does not meet market requirements.
This is a boon in disguise as the sellers can quickly compare and improve, which is not possible in offline stores. Getting such details will be a cumbersome activity.
A simple tip here: If a consumer or customer sees many items, then they become more confident of spending.

7) Reach is as far as you can go

The reach of an online store is limited. While they can deliver to customer’s homes, distance and logistics can be a hurdle. On the other hand, e-commerce stores have their own logistics and delivery system. Physical stores with an online presence also have an edge here.

8) Quicker responses to buyer demands

In e-commerce, there is a streamlined buying and delivery process. Products that don’t match expectations can be returned and some sites even offer return pick-ups. Replacements or refunding is a given.

  • Then, there is the option of ‘Notify me’ or ‘add to wishlist’. This will help the seller know what he or she has re-stock. The buyers have the advantage of knowing when the product becomes available.
  • If there is a voice assistant, then the sellers can re-stock immediately based on customer response.

9) Different payment options is a huge plus

All buyers like it when they can add a personal touch to their shopping. This applies for payment mode too. UPI, cash on delivery (COD), card on delivery, net banking, EMIs on credit card or debit card and pay-later credit facility. Sometimes when a buyer goes to the payment page and then decides to stop, recall messages can be sent through phone messages or emails.

Many e-commerce sites also provide discount coupons and other offers on payment page. This will help customers as they come in tandem with payment options.

What is the size of the e-commerce market?

As of 2019, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to $3.53 trillion and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to $6.54 trillion in 2022. Online shopping is one of the most popular online activities worldwide, these days.

What is India’s share in the e-commerce market?

India’s e-commerce revenue is expected to jump from $39 billion in 2017 to $120 billion in 2020. It is growing at an annual rate of 51%, highest in the world. Rising smartphone penetration, launch of 4G network and increasing disposable incomes and consumer wealth will push the e-commerce market to $200 billion in 2026.

What are the biggest e-commerce companies?

Rank Company Employees

  1. Amazon 798,000
  2. Google 118,899
  3. JD.com 220,000
  4. Facebook 45,000

Which is the biggest e-commerce company in the world?

Amazon. Not only is it a market leader in the United States, it is also a leading site in many parts of the world.

Road ahead for Indian e-commerce industry

  • The e-commerce industry has directly impacted micro, small & medium enterprises (MSME) in India by providing means of financing, technology and training and has had a favourable cascading effect on other industries as well.
  • Indian E-commerce industry has been on an upward growth trajectory and is expected to surpass the US to become the second largest E-commerce market in the world by 2034.
  • Technology enabled innovations like digital payments, hyper-local logistics, analytics driven customer engagement and digital advertisements will support the growth in the sector. The growth in the E-commerce sector will also boost employment, increase revenues from export, increase tax collection by ex-chequers, and provide better products and services to customers in the long-term.

Who are the key players in the e-commerce industry?

Alibaba Group Holding Limited; Amazon, Inc; Apple, Inc; Dell Technologies, Inc; Flipkart Pvt Ltd; Gome Electrical Appliance Holdings Ltd; JD.com, Inc; Macy’s Inc; Otto Group; Suning Commerce Group Co Ltd; and Walmart Inc. are the key players in the e-commerce industry, picks Business Astrologer™ Hirav Shah.