Rural consumers currently represent a large percentage of consuming class and are the prime target market for consumer goods and essential services such as education, healthcare and employment. Despite such an open market, around 68% of the rural economy still lies untapped. Given the immense scope of application of Information and Communication Technology tools for bettering service delivery processes, and opening up new vistas for village-level entrepreneurship and generation of local wealth, the key issue in this context is how to build human capacities.
The trust a kirana merchant enjoys in the neighbourhood and the preference of Indian consumers to come in direct contact with sellers is opening the doors of next big wave in e-commerce – assisted e-commerce. With the big players virtually exhausting online shoppers, the focus is now reaching people who are either not on the Internet or don’t shop online.
With just 12 to 15% of the 300 million Indian Internet users actually shopping online, the real commerce has a huge opportunity. This is exactly what Payworld Bazaar is doing. Bringing together offline buyers, local retailers, and sellers to an integrated platform and reach where the e-commerce players are facing the hindrance.
From t-shirts to television sets and mobile phones and from recharges to utility bill payment to money transfer and bus ticket booking, Payworld offers an entire range of consumer utility services. This space offers an opportunity to millions of small merchants to go high-tech and make additional income. Bringing together various stakeholders, coming out with a solution for the typical Indian market where the majority of customers still prefer to buy from the kirana store next door rather than buying from somebody they don’t know. Assisted e-commerce is turning out to be the next big thing, tapping the large untapped rural market with very high potential.
Indian e-commerce market has certain peculiarities that differentiate it from other markets, namely, a large population which is not tech-savvy, risk-averse consumer behaviour etc. Additionally, consumers here are found to be wary of the quality and after-sale service facilities of the e-commerce sale. Besides, mode of plastic card payment also adds to the list of difficulties. These issues have constrained growth of e-commerce in small towns and cities where the potential for growth is very high.
The ‘Retailer-Assisted e-commerce channel’ is a very industry-friendly and customer-centric evolution which will empower customers by giving them the power to become an important player in e-commerce without compromising on ease, simplicity and quality assurance as they are accustomed so far. This channel will help in significantly increasing scope and extent of e-retail.