How Indian retailers can improve festive season performance amid the pandemic

improve festive season performance

One of the most crucial periods of the year for businesses is here. While the pandemic may seem like a long dance, retailers who recently strategized to deal with lockdown-triggered demand must now reinvent their approach for the impending festive wave. India is one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in the world; industry experts say that the rate of e-commerce adoption in the country has accelerated by about two to three years, given the pandemic. A top driver being the demand from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

For retailers to keep pace and improve their festive season performance, navigating the rapidly changing consumer and market scenarios will be imperative. Aspects like dynamic pricing, personalized offers, agile platforms, product availability, and differentiated customer experiences will sieve the leaders from the mediocre.

With most big players competing to grab the largest share of the festive wallet, here are some actionable tips to gain an edge:

Stocking up on products with high purchase propensity

This year is expected to be a festival of firsts as a wave of new shoppers head online. Also, with the pandemic compelling many professionals to move back to their home towns and work remotely, furniture and work from home essentials are expected to top the list. Consumer electronics like laptops and computer accessories will continue to gain momentum. Also, with the government mandating the display of ‘Country of origin‘, locally manufactured or swadeshi products are bound to see better growth.

With most people hunkered down, nostalgia is getting the better of us. Boredom busters like board games, feel-good products like wooden toys and blocks, and hobby-based DIY items like gardening are seeing many takers. Furthermore, to make up for unfulfilled vacations and other routine outdoor experiences, the general sentiment among Indian shoppers is now veered towards luxury buying like jewelry and activewear. Yet these spends will be grounded on quality, durability, and value for money. E-commerce players would therefore do well to focus on the premiumization of such niche categories and develop strategic plans for better visibility and positioning of relevant product lines. 

Diwali Buying Propensity Versus Planned Purchases 2020


Source: TRA, RedSeer

Winning hearts with local language

With two out of three orders now coming in from Tier 2 cities, marketplaces that are tuning into the needs of these audiences will see sustained growth. Unique online shoppers in these cities and beyond is expected to grow to 170 million by 2023; about 1.6 times of those in Tier 1 cities according to a report by Unicommerce. To capitalize on this growing market Flipkart has integrated local languages like Telugu, Tamil, and Kannada to its platform. Amazon leads with Malayalam in addition to these. Snapdeal had already gone multi-lingual about half a decade back.  

Vernacular searches like “parda” for curtains are gaining ground according to a Flipkart funded research by Bain and Company. For players to build a stronger connection understanding the colloquial use of terms is highly imperative. Choosing commonly used words over accurately translated phrases is driving the difference. Savvy companies can consider wowing their customers through personalized retargeting ads in their own language. Vernacular based voice and visual search offer better opportunities to catalyze product discoveries and can improve your festive season performance considerably.

Winning hearts with new languages

Source: Bain & Company

Shortening the discovery to decision journey

One in two e-commerce visitors skims through a product’s images while only one in fifteen view detailed product descriptions. So, it’s quite clear that visual appeal overrides text in most cases. Therefore, brands and retailers will do well to perform a content quality audit analysis to identify buyer-centric gaps in their product imagery and descriptions. These are usually automated and allow e-commerce firms to scour through thousands of SKUs at remarkable turnarounds.

High-definition pack shots, photos that mark out measurements are extremely essential especially in categories like apparel and furniture. For more insights on what features buyers seek in a particular category, analyzing customer and competitor reviews will provide actionable answers. This is exactly what BoAt, a digital-native personal electronics brand did to improve its experience journey. It culled consumer-centric search terms and attributes and married them into not just its product innovation but positioning strategies as well. The result? It gained a 16% market share within just a couple of years.

Explore social shopping

The same research by Bain and Company also revealed that Indians spend more time online consuming video content than shopping. Video consumption in smaller cities grew by 4 times last year. In the customer purchase journey, this could include unboxing videos, product reviews from various influencers, model comparisons, social media posts, etc. In the current scenario where a wave of new shoppers are eager to bolster their next purchase with social proof, both brands and retailers must focus on these marketing channels. 

Social shopping platforms like Meesho, DealShare, and Google’s Shoploop are already helping brands improve their festive season performance. Flipkart also debuted with a similar platform of its own called 2GudSocial. Most of these platforms generally host quick videos created by real customers using a product and enable purchases via the video itself. E-tailers who want a slice of this pie must strategize on how they could use social and messaging platforms like Instagram and Whatsapp among others to maximize their visibility and drive conversions.


Leverage automation for PIM

Given that this festive season will be like no other, retailers will need quickly scalable game plans to rise to the occasion. So apart from the usual product content hygiene checks like data accuracy, error-free content, the real winners will be those who can marry data from real-time buyer patterns into their product content.

This process, from collating the right product information available online, optimizing it for trending search terms, to standardizing it to match your template and publishing it online, warrants automation. PIM or Product Information Management solutions make these routines almost effortless, maximizing productivity among your departments, and automating manual data processes.

All in all, this festive season will belong to those who focus on tying these digital pieces together by integrating internal and external data to inform their next moves. Given that e-commerce affords its players with far more access to data than other businesses, harnessing it to drive results is really in your hands.

Hyper-personalized and simplified experiences that emerge from these insights will inspire memories that last beyond the pandemic. However, collaborating with the right partners to deploy e-commerce-specific analytics, product information management, or competitive research will be critical to gain speed to market.

For over two decades, leading online businesses partner with Netscribes for its end-to-end e-commerce solutions driven by data and automation. To know how we can help your firm carve out a bigger share of this festive pie, contact us today.

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