While ecommerce has ample scope in the metro cities, the smaller towns and villages comprise of a large chunk of the population. This consists of tech savvy youngsters, householders who are experimenting with internet and small businesses that are looking at expanding their buyer base. The buyers from Tier 2 and 3 cities are increasingly logging on to meet their shopping needs, a fact that is backed up by research.
The Associated Chambers of Commerce (ASSOCHAM) recently conducted a study to observe the shopping behaviour of Indians. The results have shown that sales in Tier 2 and 3 cities like Vizag, Noida, Chandigarh, Indore, Coimbatore, has gone up by 120% since last year. This shows that online sellers can find shoppers anywhere; they just need to know the buyers’ pulse, and give them what they want.
It’s quite the demand for online marketplaces
The demand for home repairs and house maintenance online is growing in Vishakhapatnam. Apart from regular shoppers, householders are increasingly turning online to get their plumbing and electrical problems solved. Says Nilesh Korada, founder of QuickPebbles, a company that offers carpentry, electrical and plumbing services, “We have already served more than 500 customers in the city, and we get an average of around 10-15 calls per day.”
Ramamurthy KS, a service provider, has put up his services online. He says,
“Compared to the routine calls, we get about 20% of the calls from online. But the advantage is that this also acts as a reference to other people as they share it among friends. It is definitely a great advantage for a small business like ours.”
Then there is AVS Online, a Vellore-based marketplace that claims to connect local artisans and sellers to a global buyer base. The company is said to be funded by Nexus Ventures and Lightspeed, both US based venture capital companies. The company provides collection and logistics facilities for sellers.
Sbuyer.com is a Madurai-based online store that sells groceries. The company ships products across India. The website is well thought about, with a neat layout that is devoid of any fuss, making it easy for everyone to shop. Interestingly, the listings name the product in both English and Tamil, both scripts appearing side by side!
Most of these online stores prefer online payment methods, and have a limited COD range. A wise move, we say.
What are the leading marketplaces doing to get sellers onboard?
Sellers and service providers from the Tier 2 and 3 cities are also warming up to the idea of taking their business online. Leading marketplaces are taking up initiatives to help these sellers to join them. Flipkart’s F1-stop, Snapdeal’s Dil Ki Deal, and Amazon’s Chai Cart are all aimed at the small and medium businesses that hail from the Tier 2 and 3 cities.
In Chai Cart, the company placed tea carts at various tea carts in Haryana’s Panchkula district, to attract buyers and sellers to join Amazon. The carts came with an Amazon employee, who would discuss prospects of selling online with local businesses. “The initiative aims to spread awareness among local SMEs and sellers on the benefits of selling online and introduce them to the specialized seller services that help them sell more and earn more on the Amazon India marketplace,” said the company in a release.
“I was happy to see that they actually explained even about the negatives of going online. Lastly, the chai was amazing!” said an enthused trader, who tried Amazon’s chai in Bangalore.
The shoppers react
Residents are quite gung-ho about shopping online.
Nishitha Aysha Ashraf, a dentist from Manipal buys her footwear online.
“I have trouble finding my size in physical stores, and finding a variety of choices online is quite a relief. You get good brands from across the world. I wait for clearance sales as they give good discounts. I am not particular about things going out of fashion, so I don’t mind wearing last season’s shoes!” she says.
Nishitha is also bibliophile, who buys all her books online. “Online shopping has revolutionised my access to an otherwise unavailable book,” she gushes. “Ease and convenience is the biggest factor,” she says, “You get to compare the prices of different sellers for the same book, which is not possible in a physical store. Plus, you get to buy books that are not available in Indian stores.
Recommendations are another great thing about shopping for books online. In a book store, you may not get any suggestions from the staff, but when you shop online, you get to explore different books by the same author and different authors as well. The discounts are a great incentive too.” She says.
Balasubramanyam Vankadari, a businessman from Channapatna (a town on that lies between Bangalore and Mysore), says he has shifted all his shopping online. “It takes longer to get my orders delivered. Not all products are shipped here, so I have to address it to a friend’s place in Bangalore, and I pick it up from him whenever I am in town.”
This may not always be an option for shoppers from smaller cities. Etailers need to focus on strengthening their network, and look at more warehouses in different districts.
Shoppers are quite active, and the scope in increasing, both for sellers and buyers. Marketplaces ought to work a little harder on these geographies. Focus on the last mile, more warehouses, will help even things out. Frequent interaction with shoppers and suitable feedback will surely go a long way in keeping buyers engaged.