Is Mobile App the way to go for e-commerce players?

E-commerce has come a long way in last decade. Everything what you can wish for is now available at your fingertips. Be it retail merchandise, grocery, medical services, or transport, the world now lies within the small screens of your desktops and mobiles. Growth in number of internet users, smartphone penetration,online banking, and a much improved user experience are a few key driving forces behind the booming virtual marketplace.

India is no different to this growing trend. A report by Goldman Sacs has put the current Indian e-commerce size at US$20 billion, and as per its forecasts this market will account for 2.5% of the country’s GDP by 2030, growing 15 times to US$ 300 billion. So what is driving such positive sentiments? No doubt, it’s the growing number of mobile internet users. India already has 975 million mobile users with a penetration of 140 percent in urban areas. The numbers look even better, as nearly 20% of these subscribers use data. With mobile users expected to overtake broadband users by 2016, a shift to Mobile app becomes the obvious choice for e-commerce companies.

It’s not just huge subscriber base, Mobile Apps offer much more benefits to e-commerce companies:

It is not just the huge base of Mobile Internet users in India which makes it the platform of choice. There are many other benefits it offers to e-commerce players.

1. Penetration and loyalty: Once downloaded, users may tend to stick by, Also, while laptop/ desktop users tend to rummage through various sites and compare products before buying, a mobile app user may just use his favorite app to finish purchase while on the go

2. Access to user behavior and more relevant marketing: Mobile Apps not only serve as a purchasing platform, they also provide e-commerce players invaluable insight into user behavior, which can help them in targeting users better by sending more relevant notifications and offers. So rather than filling client inboxes with spam emails and SMS’s, e-commerce players can just send direct alerts which are difficult to ignore

3. Mobility: Users can shop just anywhere

4. Reduces cost: Maintaining multiple platforms can be huge cost for e-commerce players who are mostly thriving on deep discounts and round the year SALE. Not just that, having large base of mobile app users can reduce the cost of ads and affiliate marketing

Everyone is just ready or waiting to jump the App wave!!!

It is not just small ventures who can’t afford multiple platforms that are seeing the benefit in being the mobile only players. Large e-commerce companies such as Flipkart and Snapdeal are also betting high on Mobile Apps. These players already agree that 50-70% of their business is coming from mobile.

Myntra, which was taken over by Flipkart, recently dumped its web platform and announced its going solo with its mobile app. Others are waiting to follow the suit. While there is no doubt that mobile apps are the future of e-commerce, especially in India, but then is it too early to declare mobile being the king just yet????

I would yes. So while everybody is jumping into a chain reaction, it is time we pause and look at the ground reality. Some of the basic questions to be asked are:

1. Who are our buyers? While mobile internet users are expanding at a lighting speed, do all mobile users have the kind of data plan to support mobile apps. Also,

2. Are these mobile buyers just buying for additional discount?

3. Are our mobile ready to take the load?

- Ms Nitanshi Gupta

Works as Associate Vice President,

Northern Trust Bank

Selling Online – Its not a cakewalk

While selling online might sound like ‘A click’s job’, the first thing an e-entrepreneur needs to understand is, it is a completely different medium that needs as much or even more attention than an offline business would need. And the second thing is, if you manage to understand this piece well, Horizon is the limit for your business. Here are a few points, which you need to work upon:

1. Understand the Online category, which you plan to play in: Online has been there from some time and even if you browse like a consumer, you would know which product is high selling in a category where you plan to place your product:

i. Make a list of Online Marketplaces

ii. Divide them into 2 to 3 priority groups. It is always better to grow organically and neatly rather than being a mess everywhere. If you do want to go all over at once, pl do ensure you have a team (inhouse or outsourced to organisations like us) to handle the backend processes well

iii. Start with studying the Categories of Platforms in the first group. Just go to the relevant category, sort the products on the basis of ‘popularity’ or ‘best-selling’. Now observe the specifications and the price pointsof the products visible on the first 2 pages

iv. Then sort it with price points, and try to understand the gaps which exist. There would be price ranges that will be crowded with products, which indicates these are the best-selling ranges

v. Look at the attributes and specifications of the products and figure out Gaps in each range that your products could fill

2. Find the range gaps and then build your online product line that addresses those gaps:

For example, if you plan to launch a Curtain brand, look at the available colors, materials, variety, sizes of the listed products. From my own analysis of this category, I could tell you that there is a gap in the range of ‘Cotton Curtains’. There are a very few Vibrant colors available across the platforms and category pages of all them looks almost the same because of having the same set of sellers. The fastest moving priceband for a ‘set of 2 curtains’ seems like Rs. 799 to 1899.

So, if I want to be successful in my Curtain business, I would like to introduce a vibrant range of cotton curtains in ‘Solids’ and ‘Patchwork or Bohemian’ patterns in the price-range below Rs. 2000/-. The range would also include a set of Cotton Blinds, which are not available on any of the platforms. Here I would price them a little higher, because atleast for some time, I will be the sole seller in this category

3. Once the range is ready, do ensure that you create fantastic yet relevant content for your product line. Get the images clicked by the professionals. Build the content thoughtfully. Understand, you are not there to convince your customers about your product physically. The content has to do this job for you. So, even if it means, investing a little more in building the content, do it. It’ll pay off

4. Service – If a customer has raised any query, it should get addressed within 24 hours. The deliveries should always reach on or ahead of the committed timelines. Ensure the quality and design of your packaging represents your Brand. And it need not be expensive to be good, I promise

5. Read between the lines, in your sales report. It tells you everything about your customers’ profile and what you should be doing to take business to the next level

6. Re-invent. I worked in Category Management in Croma. My boss had once told me, every product range has a lifecycle. If the existing one is about to end, it is better that our own new product range kills it, rather than being killed by the competition. So never fall in love with your range. Keep re-inventing!

7. Ratings: If all the above parameters are taken care of, your seller ratings across the platform will be good. Why is it important? Ratings are your online identity. It represents your sincerity and creativity as a seller and determines the visibility of your products on any platform. Customers look at the ratings before buying too!

So my budding e-entrepreneur friends, give a little time, resources and attention to your Online business. If you have bandwidth issues, hire service providers to cut the operational work for you. But, know the pulse and I promise you, Sky will be the limit. We wish you all the best and Happy e-tailing!

- Team