Your own AI shopping assistant: How e-commerce is evolving for Indian consumers
Here are the transformative trends reshaping the e-retail landscape in India.
Your doorbell rings and you rush to receive your package. That kurta you've been eyeing or that handbag you ordered is here. The rustle of packing paper and it's yours. You're part of a shopping revolution. With the recent launch of innovative e-commerce platforms and the ever-increasing influence of technology, India's e-commerce market is heading for explosive growth.
Here are the transformative trends reshaping the e-retail landscape in India and what Indian consumers can expect in the coming years.
With a population of around 1.4 billion people, India boasts an enormous potential for e-commerce. Startups like Swiggy, Nykaa, Big Basket, Zomato, Zepto, and Blinkit are changing the game in India, sourcing locally and providing delivery services for food (restaurants), grocery, medicine, produce, electronics, fashion, cosmetics, and electronics. These apps are exploding in popularity in all regions, even tier 2 and tier 3 areas.
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“We are seeing many Indian startups and companies changing the e-commerce landscape in India,” says Imtiaz Mohammady, CEO of Nisum, a technology consulting partner based in Silicon Valley that designs and builds custom digital commerce platforms and also works with Indian firms.
“With the Indian economy being hyper focused on supporting local markets and local producers for essentials, especially produce and grocery, many apps are incorporating local-sourcing to ensure economic stability of each region. We are also seeing strict regulation in India to ensure that large commerce providers like Amazon, don't end up with a monopoly,” he adds.
Surprisingly, he informs that, as of now, online shopping accounts for just 6% of India's retail market, a far cry from the United States, where e-commerce reigns with a whopping 80%. This indicates that there's incredible room for growth right here in India's e-commerce landscape. And game-changing technologies are set to define your online shopping experience in the near future.
Artificial Intelligence: Your Shopping Assistant
AI is like having a smart shopping buddy. It's the magic that enables computers to do things that, in the past, only humans could do. Things like understanding your shopping preferences, answering your questions, and even predicting what you might like.
Dukaan, one of the latest ecommerce platforms catering to India's consumers, recently replaced its 27 member customer support team with an efficient chatbot.
“AI is very trendy in many industries right now with ChatGPT and other generative AI solutions. Retail is also an industry capitalizing on this technology in many ways from CX to data and many areas between,” says Mohammady.
One of the current examples of AI in today's e-commerce is personalized recommendations. Have you ever noticed that the products suggested to you on e-commerce platforms seem to know exactly what you like? That's AI at work, tailoring recommendations just for you.
Then there are chatbots, those friendly, efficient bots that help you with your queries. Yep, they're powered by AI. They're available 24/7 to make your shopping experience smoother.
Among other functions, AI helps stores is inventory management, where the technology helps stores ensure that your favorite products are always in stock, so you rarely see those 'out of stock' messages.
AI is getting smarter and is going to make your online shopping experience even more personalized and efficient.
Virtual & Augmented Reality: Shopping in a Virtual World
Imagine stepping into a different world without leaving your home. That's what VR and AR do. While VR takes you to places, AR lets you try out products as if they were actually there with you.
Although VR is in its early stages in Indian e-commerce, it has the potential to change the way you shop online. Soon, you might be able to virtually try on clothes, explore a digital furniture store, or visit a vacation destination before you book it. As VR technology becomes more accessible, get ready for a more immersive and interactive online shopping experience.
Already, Lenskart, the online platform for eyewear, has been attracting oodles of customers with its virtual try-on feature. Automotive companies like TVS Motors and Royal Enfield have been collaborating with PTC, a US-based software company, to up their sales game with AR, so that customers can check out the merchandise from every angle virtually.
“Wearable devices can provide an in-person shopping experience to at-home shoppers where they can interact with items and even try them on virtually,” explains Mohammady. He added that VR and its cousin augmented reality (AR), can aid retailers in reaching customers who are out and about, exploring the world with VR-enabled eyewear or headgear. “It can also provide enhanced in-store shopping experiences with personalized deals, suggestions of similar merchandise, live pricing, and much more,” explains Mohammady.
Omnichannel Shopping: It's All About Convenience
E-commerce could be the answer to many of your needs, but what if you want to spend the day at the mall? Brick and mortar shops and malls aren't going away yet. In September, during the annual MAPIC India conference (formerly Indian Retail Forum), Praveen Govindu, Partner, Deloitte India, estimated that India's total retail sales would grow from US$58 billion in 2023 to US$136 billion by 2028.
You can have the best of both worlds with omnichannel shopping. This trend, which began during the pandemic, is the idea that you can shop and interact with your favorite brands across different platforms, be it online or in physical stores, and have a consistent experience.
Indian e-commerce is embracing this approach and acing it. Indian consumers have been ordering products online and picking them up from nearby stores or enjoying the same great service whether shopping on an app or visiting a physical store. It's all about giving you choices and flexibility.
“Omnichannel experiences are trending in retail worldwide and providing customers with an integrative experience with both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar shopping. Providing customers with innovative solutions and an abundance of choices in the way they shop is now incredibly important for retailers to focus on,” says Mohammady.
According to a report by e-commerce SaaS platform Unicommerce, 'India E-commerce Index' 2023, the number of stores that implemented omnichannel operations shot up by 58.4% in comparison to the last financial year.
The Future of E-retail for You
So, what's in store for you, the Indian online shopper? A shopping experience that's getting more personalized, interactive, and convenient. AI will understand your preferences better, VR will transport you to different worlds, and omnichannel shopping will give you more options to choose from. The future of e-retail in India is bright, and it's all about making your shopping experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. Embrace the changes and look forward to a future where online shopping is tailored to you. Happy shopping.
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