3 Positive Business Impacts of Ecommerce in India in my 10 Year Journey
I recently completed 10 years of being an ecommerce technology consultant. In this decade, I’ve been actively engaged in ecommerce consulting for numerous businesses of varying scale and across domains, and I’ve seen the very idea of ecommerce as it is today take shape.
Besides the already well-known advantages of ecommerce (the immense reach, the scope for personalization, the convenience and any-time availability), ecommerce technology has evolved in a way nobody could have imagined. From the initial distrust of making payments to a non-human entity and developing trust, to exclusive online launches, we’ve come a long way.
The reasons to choose ecommerce
The biggest thing that’s changed, and has kept me in my job, is the nature of business demand for ecommerce—it started out as something businesses wanted, it’s become something businesses need.
Some years ago, when ecommerce started making waves, bright and ambitious entrepreneurs wanted to go online. To sell what? They weren’t sure, but they simply wanted to sell online.
These were days when operations and logistics were an unknown beast, and the easiest products to sell were books. Convenient, organized and relatively affordable, businesses chose books as a way to get online and start selling.
On the other hand, in recent years, the approach has become more refined. Businesses understand the potential of ecommerce, and strong players from niche domains are testing the waters. From a supplier of construction materials to medical equipment manufacturers, they all want widen their reach through online commerce. Ecommerce operations are more streamlined and businesses are trying to use these aspects to their benefit, not to mention the need to have seamless presence across channels.
Ecommerce: No longer a threat to retail stores
Retail stores have long felt threatened by ecommerce—the lure of convenience and discounts is compelling for consumers. But an interesting evolution is how ecommerce has in many ways actually opened up new opportunities for retail outlets.
Local grocers and mom & pop stores, once afraid of being pushed out of business by online shopping, have instead become stockists or suppliers for online sellers—who actually only take care of order fulfilment.
One of our clients, a popular furnishings brand, has found a way to make ecommerce beneficial for everybody: the brand, the retail outlet, and the customer. Outlet managers are incentivized for orders placed online on behalf of the customer when the desired product is not in stock in the store. So the outlet doesn’t turn the customer away, the brand still makes a sale (and gains an online customer) and the customer will get the product home-delivered!
Making B2B slick—and transparent
All the bells and whistles of B2C commerce haven’t been seen as required for B2B—B2B has always been about filling up Excel sheets, dealer visits and margins. But ecommerce is changing that. In recent times, businesses have started applying the same standards of B2C UX and convenience to B2B. The result of transitioning B2B processes online is increased speed, reduced costs (due to the time saved and the option of self-service), and transparency.
For the first time, it is has become possible for brands and manufacturers to actually reach out to end users, enhancing the brand experience for customers and helping the brand ensure customer satisfaction. The supply chain isn’t by-passed; instead all the involvement of all players is now digitized, leading to more streamlined operations and costs.
Ecommerce has become a given for large industry players, and has opened up non-traditional channels for old and new businesses.
Where’s it going from here? I’m not sure yet, but we’ll check back in 10 years.
Arun Kumar heads the ecommerce BU at Embitel Technologies, in Bangalore, India.