E-commerce: Trends to watch out for in 2021
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The growth trajectory of e-commerce platforms in India testifies how customers are increasingly recognising the importa...

E-commerce: Trends to watch out for in 2021

The growth trajectory of e-commerce platforms in India testifies how customers are increasingly recognising the importa...
  • As we enter a brand new year, we want to crystal gaze into what the year holds for us.
  • In today’s feature, e-commerce players tell us what lies ahead in 2021.
With the second-largest internet user base, India has emerged as one of the most prominent markets globally. Being stuck at home because of the pandemic further triggered the desire to make life and work easier at home, which resulted in a significant increase in shopper spends. People who would otherwise go out to buy groceries and medicines at the pharmacy, turned to e-commerce platforms to get essentials delivered at their doorsteps.

2020 accelerated the e-commerce industry by a decade, revolutionising the way brands operate, run, and grow their businesses, as well as how consumers choose to shop and pay.

As per Nielsen India’s E-commerce Consumer Panel (E-Analytics Solution), there was a double digit increase in average spend of online shoppers for electronics and accessories (39%), mobile and accessories (12%), and fashion, including apparel, footwear, and accessories (10%) after the pandemic. Appliances (e.g.TV, WM, refrigerators, etc.) also saw notable shopper spending increase at 9%.

This growth trajectory of e-commerce platforms in India testifies how customers are increasingly recognising the importance of comfort shopping within closed doors, and after seeing their businesses take a plunge in the first three months of the lockdown, more and more sellers are also coming online.

According to IBEF, ‘The 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. Indian e-commerce sector is poised to reach US$99 billion by 2024 from US$30 billion in 2019, expanding at a 27% CAGR, with grocery and fashion/apparel likely to be the key drivers of incremental growth.’

The second half of the year, which is the festive season in India, brought cheer for many brands and further pushed the adoption rate of e-commerce. Players like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, and Snapdeal together sold goods worth $3.1 billion in the first 4.5 days of the festival season sale.

Consumers are still hesitant to return to in-store shopping completely and audiences from Tier II and Tier III are also preferring to shop online. Snapdeal saw 70% of its orders come in from Tier II and Tier III during Diwali.

The pandemic and lockdown period has brought many learnings for all businesses, and e-commerce has undoubtedly been one of the sectors with the biggest takeaways. As we enter a new year, we reached out to e-commerce platforms to understand what role it would play in 2021. Here is what they said:

Anchit Nayar, CEO, Nykaa Retail:

In the initial months of the lockdown, businesses witnessed a clear shift in consumer behaviour- with scores of historically offline shoppers coming online due to convenience and safety. As the country reopens further in 2021 we see the customer seamlessly moving with ease between online and offline channels underscoring the importance of omnichannel retailers catering to customer preference. Another key trend for 2021 will be a focus on bringing more personalization and curation to customers shopping online through greater tech and marketing integration. Lastly - we believe social commerce is going to have a big impact this year. At Nykaa we have integrated our content into our shopping app thereby allowing customers to watch and shop at once.

Sandeep Komaravelly, Director of International Growth at Shopify:

Shopify’s first annual report* Future of Commerce 2021 report brought together global merchant and consumer data to predict how the commerce landscape will shift in the coming year. It highlighted five key trends that will be prevalent next year.

  1. Young consumers will change the business landscape as ecommerce charges ahead.
  2. Physical retail as we know it will transform, giving local businesses new advantages.
  3. Consumers want to shop independent. Businesses will adapt to make that easier.
  4. More consumers will vote with their wallets.
  5. Modern financial solutions will disrupt business and consumer banking, financing, and lending.
Although we have seen the greatest shift online among young consumers, the other key segments including middle aged and older consumers are also seeing significant numbers starting to go online for their shopping needs. We expect such habits to persist in 2021 as Indian consumers increasingly prefer to support independent brands and local businesses.

Kashyap Vadapalli, Chief Marketing Officer & Business Head, Pepperfry:

In a post-pandemic world, the one guarantee is massive shifts in the outlook of humanity across a wide spectrum of things. As people, as societies and as businesses, there has been a sea change in what one values or considers in their decision making and actions. The illusion of continued uninterrupted safety, growth, progress have all been shattered. In such a scenario fundamental values have become paramount. Organizations and marketing teams that focus on foundational propositions will thrive and in my opinion the trend that we will see in the next few quarters will be about these fundamental matters. People have become more purposeful in their actions and consumption than ever before and marketers who can tap into this theme of purpose will be able to attract consumers to their offerings. While digital and social have enabled interactions over the last 5-10 years, the next stage of this trend is where simple interactions, evolve to become deep connections. Going beyond the transactional exchanges and building relationships is the second key trend that will drive the growth of businesses in future.

Samarth Agrawal, CEO, Cofounder, MaxWholesale:

The key e-commerce trend for 2021 will be D2C retail, as e-commerce is growing at a fast pace, new-age brands will capitalize this opportunity to grow direct-to-consumer reach to a $15-$20 million revenue run-rate online for their brand. For the medium and large brands, the operative word is going to be “omni-channel retail” as they will try to champion B2C and B2B e-commerce for growth. B2B e-commerce in India today is where B2C e-commerce was in 2015.

Amazon Spokesperson:

“The unprecedented situation of the pandemic has brought about a rapid adoption and acceptance of e commerce as an essential service. One thing we’ve learned this year is that how important a role Amazon and ecommerce can play with enabling policies – for our customers as much as for small businesses & economy. Throughout the year, we remain focused on enabling small businesses to benefit from widest reach made possible by e-commerce as they adapted to the unprecedented situation. For customers, we continued to put together and safely deliver the best of products from our widest selection by top brands across categories to address their ever evolving needs. As the lines between online & offline continue to blur, 2021 will see businesses seamlessly implementing an omni channel approach and leverage our investment in technology and infrastructure to help empower their growth.”

Snapdeal Spokesperson:

The lockdown saw shoppers order everything online, from groceries to stationery, from maths tutorials to yoga sessions. Covid-19 related disruption has brought fundamental and long term changes in the way people shop. Millions of new e-commerce users, including in smaller cities & towns, are now comfortable buying online. The growing cohort of online buyers is also leading to deepening of the supply available online. Online has grown beyond just well-known brands to embrace a wide range of regional and seller brands, which offer a compelling value proposition of good quality at great prices.

The range of products that users now browse for and buy online has grown significantly this year. It’s not only phones, gadgets, food and fashion that they buy online, but also everyday stuff like a new mop, cooking utensils, bed covers and much more. Till a year ago, customers usually preferred to buy such products offline after a good look and feel. Users are now turning to online channels more proactively to discover choices beyond the physical markets in the neighbourhood. Having experienced the vast selection that is available online, the basket for online users will become more diverse and will reflect their consumption in a more representative way.