As stringent lockdowns across India forced brick-and-mortar stores to remain shut for most of 2020, online platforms became the go-to shopping destination. Unlike offline stores, e-commerce platforms were allowed to operate after the initial 3-month lockdown in most parts of the country.
From purchasing food, grocery, medicines, mobile phones, appliances, fashion to personal care products, popular online platforms were the only option for shoppers.
E-Commerce Boom in India
Boosted by this change in shopping behaviour, the country’s e-commerce sector recorded one of the highest growth in order volumes ever.
According to a report by Unicommerce available on The Hindu, e-commerce order volume increased by 36% in 2020 Q4 compared to the same period in 2019. More importantly, Tier II and Tier III cities accounted for almost 90% of the volume growth. Even brand websites reported an extraordinary growth of 94% in order volumes compared to 2019 Q4.
But the impressive growth of this sector in the country also poses some severe challenges regarding competition, especially for startups and small online stores.
Current State of E-Commerce Competition in India
While the likes of Amazon and Flipkart are the flagbearers of the Indian e-commerce industry, there are more than 20,000 e-commerce platforms in India. And the numbers are rising consistently. Brands have also started working on D2C strategies and launching their online stores to sell their products directly to the consumers online.
For instance, reputed Indian brands like Haldirams, Marico, and Whirlpool launched their online stores amid the lockdown.
Moreover, as e-commerce is expected to have a bright future in India, the likes of Reliance and Tata have also made their digital debut. Reliance launched JioMart and partnered with Facebook and WhatsApp while Tata Group purchased a 68% stake in BigBasket, a leading online grocery store.
Fortunately, startups and smaller e-commerce platforms don’t have to beat giants like Amazon, Flipkart, or JioMart for tasting success. A few time-proven tips are all that you need to set your foot in this fiercely competitive e-commerce industry in India.
Tips for Tackling the E-Commerce Competition
Here are a few tips that can help-
1. Start with a Competitor Analysis
To beat the competition, you first need to ensure that you are in the competition. One of the easiest and effective ways to do this is to learn from your competitors. This will not only help you anticipate shifts in the market and find new trends but also provide a detailed overview of the common barriers in your niche so that you can make informed decisions.
2. Find a Unique Value Proposition
As an online seller, you don’t really have to re-invent the wheel or offer a never-seen-before product. Just ensure that there is a unique value proposition attached to it. One of the top reasons businesses struggle with the competition is their lack of focus on how they can differentiate themselves from others.
This unique proposition can be regarding your product’s- quality, manufacturing, packaging, or your website design, mobile app, delivery, customer support.
3. Work on Your Brand Identity
Your brand identity should be something that your target audience could relate to. Consumers now have hundreds of different online stores to shop from. In this crowded marketplace, your brand identity is something that can set you apart. This whole process of identifying the purpose behind what a business does and how it conveys the same to the audience impacts customer perception.
The more positive the customer perception is, the higher will be the probability of the customers to continue having a lasting relationship with a brand.
Edging Past Your E-Commerce Competition
The crowded e-commerce field shows that there is a significant demand among Indian consumers to shop online. While this definitely makes the field more exciting, it also makes it hyper-competitive. And with customers having multiple platforms to shop from, it is very challenging for them to stay loyal to a particular brand or store.
The best way out for you is to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and use the same to your benefit. Do not sacrifice product quality or website experience, as modern consumers expect nothing but the best in this regard.