The pandemic has accelerated the growth of online retail platforms and resulted in people making more online purchases sitting in the comforts of their home rather than venturing outside. This has led to the rise of new e-commerce brands desiring to leverage this very opportunity.

The last decade has witnessed a remarkable transformation towards digital trade, credits to the rising internet and mobile phone penetration. As a result of the exponential growth, the most prominent firms have already surpassed the billion-dollar mark. While online retail accounts for a modest portion of the overall e-commerce market, it is one of the fastest expanding sectors.

Impact on brands and consumers:

Over the last decade, the middle-class population has undergone a substantial change in their needs and preferences, shopping behaviour, and purchasing priorities. E-commerce has emerged as a boon for all types of customers whether price-sensitive, quality-sensitive, or value-sensitive. These customers purchase from online retailers and spend a considerable amount of their time researching various products, prices, deals, etc, thereby leading brands to spread out their presence across channels. Thus, online shopping has expanded beyond well-known brands to include a diverse selection of regional and local brands that provide a compelling value proposition of high-quality at lower rates.

Impact of COVID-19:

There has been a steady rise in the number of brands shifting from offline to online stores. This shift got further accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and work-from-home scenarios. Being stuck at homes, customers realised the comfort of online shopping, home delivery, digital payment, etc. The pandemic has also led to rise in consumer awareness towards personal hygiene and home care products. The increased demand for these products resulted in their increased supply by brands. More and more brands are leveraging this trend and coming online with more hygienic/organic self-care products.

Role of e-commerce platforms

E-commerce platforms have emerged as the backbone of the online retail business. Several e-commerce platforms like Fynd Platform, Shopify, Wix, WordPress, etc, extended a helping hand towards brands planning to shift online, enabling thousands of businesses to migrate to online retail, especially amidst the new norms that emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These platforms have helped brands to undergo a smooth digital transformation and provide delivery assistance, payment gateway integration, data insights with tracking and analytics, and many more such features. Some of the platforms even help brands in building websites and apps that help them to sell on several other marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Ajio, etc.

Reason behind brands shifting to online trade

Increased customer preference towards online trade has changed the way brands serve the customers at each stage of their purchase journey, revolutionising the way they operate, easing the brand’s way to master online selling.

Companies delivering a compelling online shopping experience are winning the hearts of consumers, giving rise to immense competition among existing and upcoming brands. Instead of being confined to a local market, brands now aspire to earn huge revenues by reaching their customers worldwide and serving them 24/7. While some brands are entirely switching to online retail, others operate simultaneously through online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Rise of women entrepreneurs and homepreneurs

The growth of direct-to-consumer e-commerce market in India has paved the way for women to fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams from the comfort of their homes.

The feeling of strength and confidence from financial independence has driven more and more homepreneurs constituting housewives, college students, part-time sellers, etc, to online retail and sell a diverse range of products from fashion and apparel, beauty and personal care, jewelry, fashion accessories, food, groceries, etc.

The concept of ‘minimum investment and maximum profit’ in online selling has been a significant source of attraction, offering women a headstart in their entrepreneurial journey.

What lies ahead

The pandemic triggered a behavioural change towards e-commerce, which will continue to be driven by young customers. To stay in the competition brands must develop their omni-channel strategy, invest in their social media presence, and display authenticity.

Thus, the future of e-commerce seems to be driven by an increased focus on creating compelling shopping experiences, reducing the friction in transition from offline to online, and expanding the reach to anywhere and everywhere. Since the disruption of offline trade due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce has been growing at an unprecedented rate, witnessing a number of traditional shoppers getting accustomed to the new normal comprising online shopping and retail. As it grows, the competition between brands would intensify, leading to a race to deliver the best shopping experience.