The Indian rural market is on the very edge of an E-com Revolution. It ensures untapped potential to become the market leader for most E-commerce business enthusiasts and budding entrepreneurs looking forward to a major digital transformation and digital branding. As per IAMAI, India stands second in rank in the number of internet users (451 million active users). This number encompasses urban as well as rural areas. Furthermore, E-commerce has a pivotal role in various sectors of rural India. Let’s see how it is uplifting the way of living of people belonging to rural backgrounds and bringing transformative changes in the thought process.
Opportunity for E-commerce Players
The addition of new products available for E-shopping, rising prosperity levels in Tier 2 & 3 towns, and increasing penetration of smartphones will fuel the next phase of growth of India’s E-commerce sector. E-commerce platforms like Amazon pilot mass distribution in the rural market to benefit small-town customers. The data shows that Amazon covered about 90% of villages for delivery. Additionally, consumer demand for E-commerce in rural areas is expected to skyrocket. Now that everyone has easy access to social media, they can see what’s trending and fulfil that need themselves. Literacy rates in remote areas have risen. In particular, rural commerce could help provide opportunities through E-commerce and other commercialisation for businesses and employment.
Ruling the Rural Market
Catering to issues of trust and logistical problems while still providing a competitive price point to the price-sensitive customers is the key to expanding into the rural market. To snag customers, firms will need to consider E-commerce development with vernacular languages so that they can communicate with the target audience in their local language and improve their brand positioning. According to a study, there has been a 45% growth in ‘active internet users’ in rural India since 2019. The Bharat 2.0 report also states that female active internet users grew to 61% since 2019. The best approach is for businesses to focus on parameters like simple design, intuitive navigation, secure payments, and seamless experiences, irrespective of the connectivity-related challenges.
Social E-commerce in a Rural set-up
Bringing social media and E-commerce together can become a major game-changer as it will create opportunities for reaching the unreachable audience by simply creating an online presence. Micro-entrepreneurship initiatives will help E-commerce businesses successfully tap into rural markets and gain acceptance within the community through rural influencers. With the improving connections between urban and rural areas, businesses should focus more on buying and selling spaces on online platforms such as Meesho, Moj, ShareChat, etc. Data projects that by 2026, more than 60% of E-commerce demand will arise from rural India and Tier-2 to Tier-4 cities.
Finding Reliable Solutions
With the E-commerce industry becoming even more competitive, the right tech stack can help E-commerce businesses improve logistics efficiency, automate time-consuming processes, and save on costs. Integrating customer service and support solutions enable businesses to manage interactions with customers, providing an exceptional and consistent experience throughout all touchpoints. Companies have started utilising co-designing solutions with consumers to create space in the rural market and fulfil the unique demands of the rural audience. Brands can enhance CX using automation to ensure customer expectations are met from the customer’s perspective, like automated order tracking, fast and efficient returns management, and visibility into the last-mile delivery process.
A Media-first Approach
With the foundation set for an E-commerce play in rural India, the businesses in the space are now figuring out the right media relations to capture the non-urban market further. E-commerce media plans must focus on driving brand awareness and consumer consideration – acknowledging the consumer might not be in the primary market for their broader range of products or services. To be able to engage customers, businesses will have to consider online platforms of the consumers’ choice so as better connect and interact with them. Media Planning should start with conducting extensive market research about the audience, selecting the right channel for ad placement, optimising the budget & finally reporting on the estimated ROI.
From the perspective of rural trade, the general developments appear favourable. It allows huge E-commerce businesses to expand their customer base and also allows smaller businesses to gain a competitive advantage and participate in the rural transformation that E-commerce is ushering in. The overall growth so far has been quite promising and is only expected to get better in the years to come.