To safeguard customers and employees, e-commerce players are encouraging digital payments, offering contact-less deliveries, and amping up safety at their warehouses.

Myntra, for instance, is imposing strict social distancing norms, regular temperature checks, frequent sanitisation of facilities and delivery bags, ensuring the use of PPE’s at all times, frequent hand sanitisation, and more.

Wooing new India

While the number of shoppers is ballooning, the profile of a typical online shopper is evolving, experts say.

The first 100 million online buyers in India have been largely homogenous–affluent, English-speaking, internet-savvy buyers from metros with ample disposable income. However, the next wave is far more diverse in terms of consumption patterns, geographical locations, languages, and levels of disposable incomes.

These are fairly new challenges to solve.

To cast their nets far and wide, e-commerce companies are going above and beyond to service the less internet-savvy.

Breaking language barriers: With several users hailing from non-metro cities, vernacular interfaces have become the need of the hour. Nearly 30% of e-commerce platform Snapdeal’s users prefer to browse in a regional language, the company’s recent survey revealed. In the run-up to Diwali, Snapdeal is available in eight languages, Amazon in six, and Flipkart in five.

Making transacting easier: Behemoths Flipkart and Amazon have forged partnerships with banks for broader coverage of debit card EMIs, alliances with digital non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) for no-cost EMI solutions, and boosting buy now, pay later offerings.

This isn’t going to help everyone, though. “There is a large part of India that is still not online, a large part that still is unbanked, a large part that still does not use digital currency,” said Yugal Joshi, vice-president of consultancy Everest Group.

Improving last-mile logistics: “Whenever a customer orders a product from a rural or remote area, the e-commerce companies find it difficult to maintain the same efficiency and delivery speed as in urban areas due to the lack of proper infrastructure and difficulty in finding addresses,” said GlobalData’s Bhupathiraju. “This has discouraged customers from rural areas to prefer offline channels over online.”

But innovation during the pandemic has supposedly fixed much of that.

For instance, Flipkart has onboarded over 50,000 kiranas which will help manage a higher number of shipments during the festive season.

Meanwhile, over 100,000 Amazon-enabled local shops, kiranas and neighbourhood stores from across India are geared up to serve customers during this period. More than 40% of these sellers come from outside the top 10 cities.

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