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Online Shopping Season in India Encourages Consumer Expenditure Uptick

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India’s potential as a key consumer goods market is increasingly complemented by its internet retailing potential. As per Euromonitor International’s retailing research, internet retailing grew by 91% in current value terms in 2016. Additionally, it is forecast to increase in value at a CAGR of 29% for 2016-2021 at constant 2016 terms. With the festive season kicking off, leading players including Amazon, Filpkart and Snapdeal have been conducting a slew of sales and discount offers to entice consumers. Our analysts present their viewpoint and their expectations:

Digital Consumer

Swarnava Adhikary - Economies and Consumers Senior Research Analyst

Around half of India’s population is expected to be online by 2021 up from around 30% in 2016, with a major proportion of them from rural areas and smaller towns. Wider penetration of smartphones, cheaper data plans and the government’s national broadband project will provide high-speed internet to the aspirational rural consumer. This has major implications for e-commerce going ahead. Currently, programs such as the Great Indian Shopping Festival focuses on urban consumers, with consumer electronics and apparel being the chief categories. Given that the urban market is getting saturated, the need is to penetrate rural India through innovative strategies. Store pickup, cash on delivery, training for small rural businesses are possible ways to penetrate the rural market.

Toys & Games

Vishnu Vardhan, Company Analyst

Gifting is an important trend which drives the online sales of traditional toys and games in India and accounted for 11% of value sales in 2017. Majority of the online sales for toys and games is observed during the last quarter of calendar year triggered by festive season which includes Diwali and Christmas. During this season, gifting is especially focused on children, thus increasing the demand for toys. Also, leading online toy retailers like Amazon, Flipkart and Firstcry tend to offer significant discounts during this time of the year. Additionally, more product variety and availability of imported brands at discounted prices adds to the online demand for toys.

Consumer Electronics

Pradeep Srinivasan, Research Analyst

Flipkart and Amazon’s sales will look to offset the slump in consumer electronics sales due to lingering effects of demonetization and the recent introduction of a new tax regime. Smartphones and laptops, will be key areas of focus for these online retailers as they look to outperform each another. As per Euromonitor’s digital consumer insights there are 1.1 mobile telephone subscribers as of 2016. To tap into the unmet potential and reach the rest of the population, internet retailers will look to further streamline their logistics and improve turn-around time to effectively cater to the growing demand for smartphones from tier-III and tier-IV cities.

Flipkart’s performance is profoundly dependent on the sale of consumer electronics, especially smartphones. The e-commerce giant had inked exclusive deals with smartphone companies such as Lenovo, LeEco, Xiaomi and Motorola. As Xiaomi ended this exclusive partnership, Flipkart is now looking to rope in smartphone maker Oppo. Amazon India is looking to augment the penetration of consumer electronics to smaller cities and towns through the launch of its offline shopping initiative Udaan. These physical outlets will help first time users overcome the anxiety of online shopping and builds trust, which increases the likelihood of customers placing orders on their website.

Consumer Appliances

Sowmya Adiraju, Research Analyst

The festive season shopping accounts for nearly 40% of the consumer appliances sales. With the introduction of GST, there has been a slight increase of around 1%-2% in prices of consumer durables. Therefore, consumers are looking forward to the festive season so as to avail discounts on the products. New launches, increased marketing spend and attractive offers are the key focus areas. Additionally, internet retailing has introduced many relatively lesser known brands to consumers in India by increasing their availability during this discount season. Washing machines, air conditioners and microwave ovens are expected to be the highest sold categories among consumer durables.

Home & Garden

Shabori Das, Senior Research Analyst

Furniture and furnishings was recognised as one of the biggest revenue generating categories for e-commerce players. Flipkart has slashed prices for furniture and furnishings by almost 70-80% for their online sales. The rise of online furniture shopping both via specialists such as Urban Ladder and Pepperfry, and via other online leaders such as Amazon and Flipkart, made consumers more comfortable with the idea of purchasing even these products online, even when priced on the higher side. Furthermore, since these retailers cover the transportation and setting up costs as well, consumers were more than happy to opt for this channel.

Personal Accessories & Eyewear

Devchandan Mallick, Research Analyst

Personal accessories and eyewear are key segments for online retailers, as consumers are increasingly looking to purchase these products online. More recently, we see consumers evaluating the product at an offline store and purchasing the product online. As more companies and brands are aggressively interested in grabbing a share of consumer’s expenditure this category is witnessing intense competition.

Watches are expected to be a key performing category, as internet retailers are offering varied brands and demand for watches would also be driven by upcoming festive and marriage season. Discounts of upto 70% is expected on local and entry level watches from Sonata, Timex, Fastrack and Titan. Premium watches including Tag Heuer, Rado and Seiko are expected to be offered at discount upto 30%.

Handbags and wallets is also a popular category as sales would be driven by millennials who look to have multiple accessories for different occasion. Online sales provides millennials with the maximum choices at discounted prices.

Eyewear is expected to attract upto 70% of discount on local brands, and upto 50% off on brands including Rayban and Fastrack. Companies are also bundling products such as belts, wallets and watches into one bucket and offering discounts upto 50%.

Tier II and Tier III cities are expected to propel the sales of personal accessories segment during the discount season driven by rise in internet penetration and access to huge array of brand that are not available locally.

Apparel & Footwear

Shreyansh Abhinandan Kocheri, Senior Research Analyst

Fashion is one of the biggest categories which will drive sales during the 2017 festive period. Flipkart expects fashion segment sales to register a jump of 17 times to contribute over 60% of all sales during its shopping season. Flipkart is expected to offer over ten million styles across fashion categories.

Internet retailers are also offering exclusive ranges of apparel from popular brands to create interest and bring in consumers. The company has announced a special initiative under the Flipkart For India program for this festive season in which it will commemorate the valour and heroism of the Indian Army by sharing gift hampers with their families and loved ones.  In an anticipation of an increase in demand, Flipkart has stated that they have doubled their inventory capacity for fashion products as compared to last year's sale.

Amazon India is also is running a preview sale exclusively for its Amazon Prime customers. The company is offering discounts to the tune of 70% on select apparel and footwear offerings. Leading apparel and footwear brands such as Pantaloons, United Colours of Benetton, Adidas and Puma among others are being offered at discounts from 40-60%.

It is my expectation that, this year’s online shopping season might witness the sales, as more number of Indian consumers are online than ever before and internet retailing has picked up even in non-metros of the country.

Beauty and Personal Care

Dilip Radhakrishna, Research Analyst

Beauty products as gifts to family & friends and pampering oneself has become a common trend in India, however these products are priced heftily. With the success of internet retailing, offers and discounts are ranging from a minimum of 40% to maximum of 60%. This has provided an opportunity for consumers to choose from a wider portfolio of brands.

Some of the biggest categories which will see a drop in prices are colour cosmetics, skin care, bath & shower, fragrances, men's grooming, hair care, beauty accessories, combos and kits amongst others. Leading brands with offers are Nivea, Biotique, Maybelline, Lakme, L'Oreal, Wella Professions Etc.

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