With Internet penetration growing by leaps and bounds, and tech-savvy consumers preferring to go online to shop for all things ranging from apparel, electronic items, books and beauty products to even homes, top Indian companies are looking to set up shop in cyberspace, bypassing shops, middlemen and the marketplace.
A bevy of companies such as Reliance, Tata, ITC, Panasonic, Madura Group, Dabur, Godrej, Future Group and Bata, among others, are readying their own e-commerce Websites, as a dedicated e-tail portal offers the consumer the convenience of browsing and ordering products without stepping outside her home — or even on the go.
The strategy is likely to work, as Indian consumers have embraced the online shopping experience, and no longer finds a “touch and feel” experience necessary for shopping.
Ankur Bisen, senior vice-president of Technopak Advisors, said e-tailing is fast emerging as a viable alternative for companies. “Almost all Indian businesses are looking at e-tailing with an intellectual curiosity for determining the role e-tailing can play in their growth.”
“About 70-80% of home search happens online,” said A Harikesh, senior VP (marketing and sales) Tata Housing. “So we have tied up with banks like IDBI to facilitate sales of home online. A buyer can narrow down the apartment he wants to buy and pay an online booking amount of Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 50,000 using credit or debit card.”
Atul Chand, chief executive of Lifestyle Retailing Division at ITC, said shoppers are increasingly cross-navigating between ‘click’ and ‘brick’ stores. “The Wills Lifestyle e-store was launched six months ago, and the objective is to double the revenue through this channel every year,” Chand said.
Reliance Retail is expected to announce its e-tailing venture by October. “e-commerce combined with physical stores will offer tremendous choice and convenience to the consumer,” the company’s annual report said.
“Panasonic will launch ‘Panasonic’s E-Store’. We will appoint a re-seller who would maintain the portal and distribution,” said Manish Sharma MD Panasonic India.
India’s Internet user base is expected to touch 550 million by 2020, against about 243 million users at present.