As the number of internet users in India is growing at breakneck speed with each passing year, so is online shopping emerging as a trend exponentially. However, a closer look at the numbers brings to light how much of the Indian online market remains untapped.
While the number of internet users has swollen to 279 million by the end of October 2014, expected to cross 300 million by end of December 2014, the number of online shoppers is estimated to touch 35 mn this year, which is only 10 to 11% of the projected Indian internet user base.
The reasons for this disparity between internet users and online shoppers are trust and concern for safety among non-buyers. As per a recent survey by Forrester Consulting around 55% non-buyers did not trust the quality of products sold online, 63% were concerned about safety of online transactions and 65% did not feel comfortable sharing personally identifiable information online.
While talking exclusively with Dazeinfo, Mehul Jobanputra, CEO and co-founder of Desidime, an online shopping community, says, “What Google offers by way of GOSF is deals that are tempting enough for the erstwhile hesitant buyers to consider trying online shopping”.
He further explains that because the prices are so low, these first-time buyers are emboldened to take the ‘risk’ when it is at its minimum. The free home delivery and cash-on-delivery services by 100s of retailers further add to their sense of security during the purchase. This was proved true in GOSF 2013 when online retailers claimed that at least 30% of their total traffic was comprised of first time shoppers.
How is GOSF different this year?
This year Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is going the extra mile to generate sufficient buzz about GOSF with its 2 week long Pre-Party which started on November 25. Here, users are encouraged to play games related to shopping. It is a great way to engage users, even those who are not online shoppers, by dangling the carrot of surprise gifts and 14 min free shopping in front of them. Also, GOSF 2014 has 5 times as many partners as it had in its first year in 2012.
However, some e-commerce players are also trying to bank on this pre-sale hubbub. While the Rs 299 Corner was intended to be a most exciting new addition to GOSF 2014, Snapdeal has tried to one-up this move by starting its own Season of 9s. Snapdeal is not only hosting a Rs. 299 Store, but also stores of Rs. 499, Rs. 999, Rs. 2,999, Rs. 4,999, Rs. 9,999, Rs. 19,999 and Rs. 29,999.
Another new addition to GOSF 2014 is the Exclusive Launch Corner, which seems like Google has taken a leaf out of other online stores’ strategy books. The year gone by has seen many exclusive launches of smartphones, books and games on biggies like Flipkart and Amazon India. Flipkart’s partnership with Motorola, and the exclusive launch of Moto G made it the highest-selling phone in Motorola’s history. Soon, this bug was caught by the others, with the result that most smartphones are now launched only exclusively on various stores. Some of the most recent launches are the Xiaomi Redmi Note on Flipkart, and OnePlus One on Amazon.
While the exclusive launch of Xiaomi Mi3 may have ruffled more feathers than advisable, the viability and success of this trend is indisputable, as it serves two key objectives. For one, the ‘exclusive’ tag gives these products an aspirational quality, making customers feel they ought to yearn for them. Thus, even though many Indian customers who have never had the experience of using these products, nevertheless bought them. The other purpose fulfilled by this strategy is that the e-commerce players, hosting the launch, get to serve and influence many new users, who would have otherwise bought the same product from some other site or a brick and mortar store. In short, it gives them an opportunity to try and make new loyal customers.
Another anomaly in GOSF 2014 is the absence of India’s biggest online retailer Flipkart. Although the reason behind this may be unknown, the online retail giant has ensured that it will not be lying low and quiet during Google’s big days. With its Big App Shopping Days from 8 to 12 December, 2014, Flipkart has maneuvered a smart move to capture the mobile internet users of India, which as per many findings is a booming market. Even Myntra, a big player in the online fashion market, is offering special discounts on products bought via its mobile app.
According to a recent report by IAMAI, mobile internet users are growing at a steady rate, with 159 million mobile internet users in October, estimated to reach 173 million by the end of December 2014. While figures from Google indicate that one out of three customers make transactions through mobiles in Tier I and Tier II cities. In fact, shopping queries made through mobile phones has risen from just 24% in 2012 to 50% in 2014, while every second person in Tier III cities is shopping through mobile phones. However, Google has strangely limited the promotion of GOSF 2014 on mobile phones only to regular advertisements.
Figures expected this GOSF
With such an amplified hype and growing numbers of internet users, many in the e-commerce business are anticipating a windfall on 10, 11, 12 December, 2014.
Mehul Jobanputra CEO and Cofounder of DesiDimecom said, “Last year we witnessed 120% increase in our traffic during GOSF and are expecting at least 2.6x increase in traffic this year as well.”
Most online retailers can look forward to an increase in traffic anywhere between 150% to 300% and increase in sales above 50%.