Digital is gaining salience in daily lives
The Indian e-retail market is primed to reach nearly 300 million to 350 million shoppers over the next few years, propelling the online gross merchandise value to $100 billion to 120 billion by 2025.
The high case loads of the Covid-19 pandemic in every state and city of India ranging from big cities to even the smaller class B towns, exacerbated consumers’ need for safety and convenience, leading to an inflection in e-commerce penetration in India, and it can be asserted that online is gaining salience. We expect India’s e-commerce growth story to be inclusive—one that empowers both sellers and consumers.
For consumers, it will provide convenient access to a wide assortment of products across all geographies and income segments. For sellers (kiranas i.e. the neighborhood small general provision stores, artisans, traders and homemakers), digital initiatives in eCommerce ordering & digital payments will provide an unprecedented impetus by establishing easy access to a large base of customers across their market reach and keeping their stores running 24-7. With contactless ordering options via social media, whatsapp and messengers with contactless delivery and payment options which is caused due to the ever hovering fear of virus contagion and lockdowns on movements imposed by the authorities, even the non digital shoppers like senior citizens, housewives and children are now buying everyday items through the digital devices.
With access to more than 95% of India’s urban and literate towns PIN codes (as Indian ZIP codes are termed), e-retail has already democratised the shopping landscape, empowering India’s small sellers while breaking go-to-market barriers for insurgent and incumbent brands. E-retail has benefitted millions of customers across India, exponentially increasing merchandise choice and price transparency while augmenting access and convenience.
India’s online-shopping landscape comprises a diverse mix of city tiers and income ranges, forming a microcosm of the pan-Indian retail market. Online shoppers in tier-2 cities and smaller municipalities make up nearly half of all shoppers and contribute to three out of every five orders for leading e-retail platforms. These customers from tier-2 and smaller cities buy similar categories of products as customers from metropolises or tier-1 cities with only a marginal difference in average selling price.
And with the boom in cheaper smartphones within the $50 price range with very affordable data packages by telcos, Indian consumer is now using Google Search or Amazon Search or even Youtube Search as the gatekeepers for ecommerce research & purchase. Mobile centric Search Trends for transactional queries has peaked during the pandemic and ongoing unlockdown periods. Hence organic Search as well as eCommerce Search is now a prime driver of eCommerce sales.
Search & Online shopping journey
Brand success in e-retail hinges on a deep understanding of how shoppers discover and decide on products online. Some of the recent behaviour studies provides useful and interesting insights into the nuances of the online shopping behavior of Indian customers.
Nine minutes is all you have: Over the past year, consumer engagement with online platforms has increased, but a potential shopper spends less than nine minutes per visit on an e-retail platform.
Search queries are a prime drivers in these engagements as Brand which are successful in being organically visible to their eye-balls have benefitted with most engagements and sales.
Pictures speak louder than words: One in two visitors browse the image gallery, and only 1 in 15 click the detailed product description.
Recently, Search Engines especially Google along with the over brimming images posted on Social Media like Instagram etc. are bringing in a highly enhanced images and videos in their Results pages as these lead to better user experience. Thus, Brands and sellers should invest in SEO & SEM of their content images and videos as well as pithy, high-impact product highlights.
Product discovery on e-retail platforms: Consumers are increasingly opting for e-retail platforms for product searches—nearly one in three in India and almost two in three in the US.
Search on eCommerce platforms are seeing their windows being utilized highly by users to generate quick product views and faster product buys during their online sessions. Brands must ensure that they are incorporating the optimal meta info for their products post adequate keywords research and user metrics.
Vernacular searches are gaining popularity: For example, “parda” was one of the top three searches in curtains.
Search Engines have also geared up with vernacular syntaxes for search queries and Brand have to inculcate proper research on the keyword query patterns & searches used by their users on these shopping marketplaces.
Browse, browse, browse: Online shoppers browse more than 20 product pages before making a purchase. For some categories, such as mobile phones and women’s ethnic wear, consumers browse about 50 to 60 product pages before making a purchase.
Search Engines listings can be best used by Brands to incorporate Comparison Pages or Videos of their products & likely competitors to be displayed to the online shopper during his searches. This can be done by the SEO team who can develop these comparison pages thus enabling a positive imagery in the shoppers mind space for the brand.
Future of online shopping & Search Marketing
As Indian e-retail enters the “massification” phase, online platforms are innovating to onboard the next hundreds of millions of shoppers. The next wave of shoppers will have different needs and will interact differently than the current set of online shoppers.
Search Engine search trends across locations, countries, user segments of age, across content categories, across devices and across day times provide Brands with immeasureable insights into the buyer behaviors of online shoppers. And with enhanced eCommerce Search Advertising options through text, image, video, voice, storyboards and local business results, Search Marketing is the shoulder to the boulder that Brands can utilize comprehensively to gain more business sales and revenues.