31/12/1990: You mention the name Alibaba, and kids instantly think about the 40 thieves, Open Sesame, treasures and bedtime stories.
31/12/2014: You mention Alibaba and the first words that come to your mind are apparel, technology, discounts, e-commerce and the next thing you know you’re searching for that debit or credit card.
2014 has been a marquee year for the E-Commerce Industry – the wave started in late 2013, when as per an ASSOCHAM report, the E-Commerce market grew by 88%. Of late, browsing trends have shifted from desktop to mobile devices, and the E-Commerce Industry has smartly kept pace. Let’s talk about a few major events that happened in 2014 that indicate that the way we shop has changed forever:
- Serious Investments – No more the Garage Start-Ups! 2014 was the year that saw major moolah being pumped into all major E-Commerce companies. Whether it be Jeff Bezos coming to India, doing a roadshow and investing $2 Billion into Amazon India, Flipkart deciding not to go for an IPO because they were able to raise $1 Billion, or Alibaba’s historic IPO (largest technology company IPO EVER), this was the year when all the start-ups decided to come out of their garages, spill some serious cash, improve logistics and really compete with traditional retail and each other. We strongly suggest reading more about the classic Flipkart and Amazon rivalry going on in India right now!
- SALE! SALE! SALE! India as a country just loves sales – it’s when our thriftiness is on full swing! 2014 witnessed epic sales and schemes from all major players, including Flipkart’s Big Billion Day Sale, Amazon and SnapDeal’s Black Friday and GOSF sales, and so much more! There has been a constant fight between these players to provide the cheapest ever prices, and it’s the buyers who are the real winners in this case! These e-commerce giants have also given traditional retail shops a run for their money, with prices online as much as 40% lower than in physical shops! Wooh!
- Product Launches and Partnerships A few years back, a product launch would mean much fanfare and lots of pieces being shipped all over a country. But in 2014, while the fanfare was very much there, the product launches went online through e-commerce. For the first time in history, companies like Apple, Xiaomi, and Motorola all launched their products in India in exclusive partnerships with one or the other E-Commerce website. In late 2013, Infibeam was one of the first ones to launch the iPhone 5S and 5C in India, and in 2014, Flipkart has consistently been driving people crazy with it’s Xiaomi flash sales.
- Logistics Logistics Logistics – We’re Quick! The only thing that has made people hesitant about E-Commerce is the delay in the process of buying the product and actually getting in your hands. The wait can be excruciating, right? But in 2014, all E-Commerce companies invested a lot in stocking, inventorying and logistics, and now the pace at which they can deliver is almost unbelievable. Flipkart and Amazon both offer one-day delivery on most products for a small extra cost, and most others are delivered within 7 – 8 working days.
- The ever widening net of Sellers Not so long ago, WS Retail, owned by Flipkart, was pretty much the only major seller on Flipkart, but in 2014, many traditional retail shop owners and sellers realized that online is the way to go, and many of them are now partnering with these e-commerce companies – this means even more products, quicker delivery, more discounts, and an all in all win-win situation for buyers!
The E-Commerce market has really matured in 2014, and is now a definite force to reckon with, and the craze is only likely to grow in 2015 with many other players planning to go global and launching portals. Moreover, the period for consolidation is also beginning as larger players such as Flipkart merge with smaller and specialist ones like Myntra. What 2015 has in scope, we can’t predict, but we’re definitely excited!