The arrival of the Indian probe Chandrayaan-3 on the dark side of the Moon made the world open its eyes to this rising giant that is India. Although it has been growing at rates above 7% per year for over a decade, India is finally receiving the attention it deserves from the world. This article explores why including India in your international e-commerce strategy isn’t just an option — it’s a strategic necessity for companies aspiring to flourish in the ever-evolving digital marketplace.
India presents a tantalizing prospect for those looking to extend their global ecommerce footprint. According to Invest India, the country’s ecommerce market was estimated to be worth over $55 billion in gross merchandise value in 2021. By 2030, forecasters expect India’s ecommerce market to have an annual GMV of $350 billion. A report from Mordor Intelligence projected that the Indian ecommerce market will reach $246.1 billion by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of 21.5%.
India’s demographic landscape is a compelling reason to include it in your international ecommerce strategy. With over 1.4 billion people, India is home to a rapidly expanding middle class, driving the demand for a wide array of products and services. This demographic shift is transforming India from a nation of consumers into a nation of avid online shoppers. The middle class’s increasing purchasing power and their openness to online shopping make India a massive potential market for ecommerce companies.
India is undergoing a digital transformation at breakneck speed. With the widespread availability of affordable smartphones and one of the largest and fastest-growing internet user bases globally, India’s digital landscape is ripe for ecommerce growth. The country boasts over 624 million internet users, and forecasters expect this number only to rise. Mobile shopping is a common practice, making it essential for ecommerce companies to tailor their platforms for mobile users.
The Indian government’s Digital India campaign has paved the way for a more connected, digital-savvy population. Initiatives like Aadhaar, the biometric identification system, and Unified Payments Interface (UPI) have made online transactions more accessible and secure. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has streamlined taxation across the country, reducing logistical complexities for ecommerce operations.
India’s consumers are increasingly looking beyond their borders for unique products and competitive prices. Cross-border ecommerce has gained momentum, presenting international ecommerce businesses with an excellent opportunity to tap into this market. Ecommerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba have recognized this potential and are actively expanding their presence in India.
Being an early entrant in a market with vast potential can provide a significant competitive advantage. While India’s ecommerce market is competitive, it is still evolving, and businesses that establish themselves now can secure a strong foothold and build brand loyalty before the market becomes saturated.
We gathered seven advisements for a successful strategy for companies wanting to sell products in India:
1. Understand the climatic and geographic diversity of India
India is a vast country with different climates, seasons, and terrains. It has more seasons than any other country in the world, ranging from hard monsoons to harsh droughts. These factors affect the demand and supply of various products and services. For example, some products may sell better in certain regions or seasons than others.
Therefore, it is important to consider India’s climatic and geographic diversity when planning your product portfolio, pricing, distribution, and marketing strategies. You may need to adapt your products or offer different options for different segments of customers based on their location, climate, and season.
2. Customize your product to suit the local tastes and preferences
India is a country with rich cultural diversity and heritage. It has 23 official languages and hundreds of dialects. It also has various religions, cuisines, festivals, and traditions. These factors influence the tastes and preferences of Indian consumers. They are often looking for products that reflect their identity, values, and lifestyle.
Therefore, it is essential to customize your product to suit the local tastes and preferences of your target audience. You may need to modify your product features, design, packaging, or branding to appeal to them. For example, even big companies like McDonald’s have to alter their menu in India to offer vegetarian options and avoid beef products.
3. Use English as your primary language for marketing
One of the advantages of selling products in India is that you don’t need to translate your marketing content or technical information into multiple languages. English is widely spoken and understood in India, especially among urban and educated consumers. It is also the official language of business and commerce in India.
Therefore, you can use English as your primary language for marketing your products in India. However, you should also be aware of the regional variations and nuances of English in India. You should use simple and clear language that is easy to comprehend by your target audience. You should also avoid using slang, jargon, or idioms that may not be familiar to them.
4. Optimize your website for mobile devices and low-speed internet
India has one of the largest and fastest-growing mobile internet user bases in the world. Moreover, most of these users access the internet through low-cost smartphones with limited data plans and low-speed connections.
Therefore, it is crucial to optimize your website for mobile devices and low-speed internet if you want to reach and engage your potential customers in India. You should make sure that your website loads fast, has a responsive design, uses minimal images and videos, and offers a smooth user experience.
5. Leverage influencer marketing to promote your products
Influencer marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow your online business in India. Influencers are individuals who have a large and loyal following on social media or YouTube. They can influence the opinions and purchase decisions of their followers by creating and sharing content about various products or services.
Therefore, you should leverage influencer marketing to promote your products in India. You should identify and collaborate with influencers who are relevant to your niche, have a good reputation, and have a high engagement rate with their audience. You should also provide them with creative freedom and incentives to create authentic and engaging content about your products.
6. Use PR activities to boost your brand image and SEO
Public relations is another powerful tool to boost your online business in India. PR helps you create and maintain a positive brand image by generating media coverage, press releases, and other PR activities. PR also helps you introduce yourself to a broader audience, increase brand recognition and credibility, and establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
Additionally, PR activities can also contribute to your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). Media mentions and backlinks from reputable sources can improve your website’s search engine rankings, making it easier for potential customers to find your products or services online.
7. Explore ecommerce marketplaces as an alternative or complementary channel
Ecommerce marketplaces are platforms that connect buyers and sellers of various products or services. They offer various benefits such as a large customer base, easy payment and delivery options, and customer support. Some of the most popular ecommerce marketplaces in India are Amazon, Flipkart, and Myntra.
Therefore, you should explore ecommerce marketplaces as an alternative or complementary channel to sell your products in India. You can use them to test the market, reach new customers, or expand your product range. However, you should also be aware of the challenges and limitations of selling on ecommerce marketplaces, such as high competition, low margins, and dependency on the platform.
In the ever-evolving landscape of international ecommerce, India represents an unmissable opportunity. Its burgeoning middle class, widespread internet access, government support for digitalization, diverse consumer preferences, and cross-border ecommerce potential make it a compelling addition to your global ecommerce strategy.
By embracing India as a strategic imperative, businesses can unlock unprecedented growth, expand their global footprint, and secure a competitive edge in the digital marketplace. The time to include India in your international ecommerce strategy is now, and the rewards are bound to be substantial.
About the Authors:
Gaurav Dhingra is the co-founder and CEO of New Delhi, India-based ecommerce marketing agency Refresh Ideas. João Manuel is the founder and CEO of international marketing and public relations firm Vereda, which operates without a specific headquarters but maintains a company website at Vereda.global, with content displayed in the English and Portuguese languages.
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