What trends will shape up e-commerce over the next five years? What are the hurdles? Is it a challenge to face foreign players operating through Indian portals? What are your views on social media?
There are three trends shaping up the e-commerce industry. They are: Growth in online fashion retail consumers, recommendation and social activities and price war and quality issues in some segments. Major hurdles include product returns, touch and feel factor, replicas and duplicate creation ruining customers' trust are.
Indian consumers are misusing the 15-30 day return policy of online stores. I read one article where sellers were saying that customers sometime return products after using them within 15 days of the return window. Sometimes, poor packaging by the customer damages products. As an affiliate, we are also affected by product returns and cancellations. According to our experience, average order and commission rejection ratio is around 25 per cent, which we guess are due to product returns and order cancellations. Services like Myntra's Try & Buy and Amazon's recently introduced Inspect & Buy can add a touch and feel factor and allow trial of products before purchase. This can decrease the return ratio and encourage more offline shoppers to enter online shopping.
It is healthy competition and not a challenge to compete with foreign brands operating through Indian portals. Brands with quality products and services will win. Amazon is giving a good battle to Flipkart and Snapdeal. With the entry of China's Alibaba and Japan's Rakuten, competition will get tougher. Small players will only be able to survive if they go for niche products. For example, handicrafts or handmade items are only available exclusively in India.
The conversion rate is important as it is still less than 10 per cent across the globe. Our advantage at Looksgud is products from multiple stores at one place, offering more product options than a single store. We expect improvement in CR as we also offer price comparison of fashion products, discount coupons and offers from multiple stores and expert recommendations in all categories under one roof.
It is true that mobile traffic is constantly on the rise and this trend will continue. Navigating through catalogues is a bit hasslesome, but introduction to smartphones with large screens will ease the task. But it may not offer the same comfort of browsing on a desktop. And Myntra's U-turn from mobile-only to a desktop site is proof of that. In the nearer future, we cannot expect the mobile-only strategy to work. So, offering both mobile and web experience to consumers is safe.
The role of social media promotion has been significant for Looksgud. Interest-based targeting and demographics filter results in laser-focused promotion on social media. Facebook and Pinterest are among the leading social media sites as a picture is worth a thousand words in the fashion world. They help free traffic and conversions.
It is true that users will not install apps for every brand. That is why we focus on desktop and mobile. Myntra's return from app-only to mobile-web plus desktop shows our strategy is right. Since we are an aggregator combining multiple stores and brands under one roof, users might require installing only our app instead of apps from all brands/stores. We may think about introducing an app in future.
Published on: 20/02/2017
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.