While e-commerce has been a growing international marketspace for some time, businesses in India are rapidly starting to recognize its potential. According to PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Indian e-commerce expanded by almost 35 per cent from US$3.8 billion to an estimated $12.6 billion between 2009 and 2013. Additionally, the Times of India predicted that online shoppers will cross 100 million by 2016, making it a $15 billion market.
The perks of online commerce
What's behind the drive towards an online marketplace?
For buyers, it's about convenience, efficiency, competition and accessibility. The ability to find the right product at the most reasonable prices, to pay in a secure, efficient manner and to receive the goods promptly without having to leave one's doorstep all make for very compelling reasons to shop online.
For business owners, the benefits increase even further. Online retail presents an opportunity to turn a small local business into a global market player. The internet levels the playing field for startups, allowing them to reach audiences across India and beyond, thereby increasing market presence and brand awareness.
Digital transactions also allow entrepreneurs to receive fast, secure payments while having control of goods delivery. At the same time, market analytics – the ability to identify areas of opportunity, growth and challenges to effectively improve a business' value proposition – also become significantly easier to track, and yields much higher accuracy.
Finally, for businesses that have transitioned exclusively to the online space, it's a cost-saving exercise that allows them to slash outgoing expenses such as store rentals and floor staff wages.
Getting your business online
When it comes to launching your business into the online market, thorough planning is key.
- Begin by considering the nature of your trade and the best online forum in which to maximise your reach and audience interest.
- Consider your budget, which will help determine your online marketing tactics and return on investment.
- Observe your competitors and their websites to determine what language, image and tone works best. Are they exclusively or partially online? Do they target a specific demographic?
- Find a mentor. People are often keen to share stories of their success, so use their experience and learnings to gain a fresh insight into your e-commerce endeavor. By joining industry forums and networking at trade events, you can find useful contacts who will help equip you with the knowledge to succeed.
- Design, populate, and host your online store. We recommend hiring a professional, or using a platform such as Shopify or BigCommerce to help you create your own webshop.
- Use online market analytics such as Google Analytics or in-built platform services to regularly gauge audience interest and tailor your products, services and marketing to your business strengths.
- Drive traffic to your online retail store via social media advertising such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Maintain interest and brand awareness via supplementary marketing, including competitions and giveaways, sponsorships, blogs, trade shows, media releases and email marketing campaigns.
Sourcing for high-quality supplies
After your online store is set up and running, the next step is to have attractive, profitable products on display.
As the world's leading online platform for global trade, Alibaba.com is a good place to begin stocking up or refreshing your inventory. The kinds of businesses that use Alibaba range anywhere from agriculture to retail to travel, thereby enabling industries of all types to connect with wholesalers, suppliers and distributors around the world.
In Conclusion, with the right planning, you can ease into the online marketplace with a budget to suit your business. By gaining access to a global, interested audience, your business can only grow. Visit us today to find out more.