This is what I wrote a month ago as part of my Digital India 2012 Trends series:
Undoubtedly, the biggest story on the Internet in India is that of the dramatic rise of eCommerce. People are becoming comfortable buying all sorts of things over the Internet. Companies have also set up better logistics for distribution and collecting money on delivery. Consumers are willing to trust sites since they can choose to only pay on receipt of the goods.
For an India that is urbanisng and hasn’t had as much choice, especially in smaller towns, the Internet eCommerce sites are a godsend. More than FDI in retail, it is these sites which are the real disruptors for kirana stores. Daily deal sites and discount portals which offer branded goods at lower prices means that eCommerce also becomes a fun activity in the search for the best price.
The challenge for Indian eCommerce sites like Flipkart and Snapdeal will be the investments that they will have to do to fill in the missing elements of the Indian logistics value chain. Amazon can rely on UPS for delivery and the credit card companies for cash collection. Indian companies have to do all of this themselves for the most part to ensure tighter control on delivery, as also set up warehouses closer to the customers. Much of this should improve as third-parties start offering all of these specialised services.
For now, discounts and free shipping supreme, giving Indian consumers a veritable treat if they choose to buy online.
Continued next week.