8 years ago two guys left their jobs to incorporate a company and who would have thought that it would take the entire nation by storm and change the we shop today. Yes I’m talking about Sachin and Binny Bansal who started Flipkart which on date is generating a revenue of over $1 Billion yearly based on gross merchandise value (2013-2014). It was after flipkart, India saw the ‘startup’ boom and saw the likes on Snapdeal, Jabong, Myntra foraging into the e-commerce arena. Soon foreign investors saw the potential in the market and pumped in billion of dollars into these companies which saw the e-commerce market grow from $3.9 billion in 2009 to $12 billion in 2012-2013, that’s close to 4 times from where it started. So let’s see how e-Commerce (Online Shopping) has impacted the consumers as well as the offline retailers.
It has been a joy ride for the consumers as they are getting the products at cheaper prices than what they used to do from retail stores earlier. e-Commerce took a while to gain momentum due to lack of infrastructure available to the consumers. Internet services were not up to the mark, majority of consumers weren’t ready to make payments online and preferred Cash on Delivery. That exists even today, but consumers aren’t scared to make purchases online.
However things haven’t been on a brighter side for the brick and mortar stores – the offline stores. They have been hit HARD and have had a huge impact from the e-Commerce wave. Customer footfall nose-dived and so did the sales. Many small retail stores had to be shut as they weren’t able to survive the competition by these e-Commerce Giants. Their biggest concern was the margin; the e-Commerce guys sold stuff at a very less margin because they could survive considering the funding they received plus the less infrastructure cost compared to the offline stores. The offline stores had to bear costs for the shop and lot of other factors.
E-commerce impacted many small and medium-sized shop owners who had to shut their business and many from them joined hands with the Aam Aadmi Party which was standing up against FDI in retail. Because in India if you are not close to a politician, you cannot get your work done. There have been a few startups which help the users buy goods from an offline store using the Internet and I don’t think that it’s doing anything good.
One of the good things that have been happening in the recent past Ishtar the offline stores are expanding in tier-II and tier -III cities as the e-Commerce is not popular here thanks to lack of infrastructure that have enabled offline store owners to tap the opportunity and make a living. Online shopping is there to stay with smartphone and internet be accessible to all, let’s see how the future holds for these brick and mortar stores.