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E-commerce: Opportunity, not challenge

E-commerce: Opportunity, not challenge

E-commerce

Shiv Joshi

Shiv Joshi

26 Oct 2018, 10:50 — 3 min read

The moment we start looking at e-commerce as yet another channel to grow the business, its potential will start becoming clear…

 

With the festive season being around the corner, the shopping rush has already begun, both offline as well as online. It is amazing how fast Indians have adapted to e-commerce. It appears that they are more comfortable shopping on apps on their smartphones than on desktop or laptops. Who would’ve thought something like that will happen even five years back? Such is the change that today, for *85% consumers, the discovery phase of shopping happens online. Not only are consumers comfortable buying online, they are also swiftly shifting between online and offline channels as per convenience and need. For customers, there is no line separating the channels. For them, all are mere touchpoints to engage with a brand or experience it.

Unfortunately, the lines still exist in some of our minds. While the debate about online versus offline has died down, there are still some who look at the online channel as competition rather than an opportunity.

Retail cannot be defined or divided by channels. The fact is all direct to consumer business is retail, irrespective of the channel it is conducted on —online, offline, direct selling or TV. That is the biggest impediment holding retailers behind—the view that e-commerce is not ‘retail’ but its nemesis.

It’s not the e-commerce companies that is the problem, but the perception about e-commerce.

To be able to compete with e-commerce companies, the change must first happen in the mind. That is the beginning. Once we change our perspective and start looking at e-commerce as a channel, the potential it presents will start to become clear. One might even find e-commerce companies to be allies or collaborators rather than competition.

The key to beating competition lies in going back to the basics. Retail stalwarts say that successful retail has always been about getting the fundamentals right. So rather than feeling threatened by the deep discounts and the other gimmickry, it might serve retailers well to first focus on improving product, assortment, service quality and customer-centricity. Any business that puts the consumer at the centre in every aspect automatically changes in the way required.

The best way to beat competition is to rise above it. Just follow the customer, all else will fall in place.

*As per a 2017 Consumer Survey conducted by RAI

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker, Retailers Association of India or any other organisation.

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