As we enter the second half of the second decade of the 21st century, it is safe to say that internet shopping and online marketing are well and truly here to stay. From 2 billion USD’s worth of online sales in 2012, analysts expect the Indian e-commerce industry to increase that number eight-fold, taking sales to 17 billion USD by 2018. Given that e-commerce has grown—and continues to grow—at such a colossal rate, small and medium businesses can only benefit by joining the e-tail bandwagon. SMEs now have access to audiences and customers that they could only have dreamt of as recently as 20 years ago. By 2011, around 57% of all Indian SMEs were selling their products online. Even if they choose to maintain a brick-and-mortar presence instead of going completely virtual (like e-tail giant Amazon.com for example), there are multiple online sales channels that have helped them expand their horizons. The top 5 online sales channels in India Five of India’s most successful online marketplaces, in descending order of seller-popularity (number of sellers on the platform), are as follows:
- Amazon India
- eBay India
eBay India predates both Flipkart and Amazon, but has been outstripped by them according to a number of different metrics. Here are some numbers that capture these platforms’ overall popularity: Growth: eBay, which opened its URL doors in 2005, today has 30,000+ sellers; Flipkart’s marketplace, which was launched in 2013, has the same number of sellers, while Amazon India (also launched in 2013) has 16,000+ sellers. Snapdeal and ShopClues which were launched in 2010 and 2011 respectively, have 100,000+ sellers each. Number of products: Flipkart outstrips its competition with 20 Million products, Amazon India coming in a close second at 19 Million. Third is ShopClues at 16 Million, followed by eBay India with 1.5. Popular product categories: Each of these channels is best known, and best liked, for certain types of products. The two most popular sites are known for the following: Flipkart’s bestselling product categories are Footwear and Apparel, Mobile Accessories, and Home Décor. Amazon India’s most popular offerings include Baby Products, Electronics, and Books. Mobile: In terms of mobile platforms like smartphones, Flipkart is in the lead as 75% of its traffic is mobile driven. Amazon India and eBay haven’t revealed their mobile activity figures but Snapdeal’s reach is 69% and ShopClues’ comes to 40% of total traffic. Cost of joining marketplace: With respect to costs associated with becoming a seller in these marketplaces, both American companies charge subscription and listing fees (though for eBay, the listing fee doesn’t apply to a seller’s first 100 products). eBay is the only platform that also charges payment gateway fees, with all the platforms charging commissions ranging from 4-20% depending on the product, the exception being eBay, which charges in the neighbourhood of 1-7%. There are many benefits to sell products using online channels like the ones mentioned above. Along with physical channels, this type of marketing constitutes an ‘omni channel’ approach that is proving to be truly beneficial for SMEs.