Digital shopping the new normal? Indian consumers certainly think so

Online Shopping

Digital explosion led by the pandemic has inspired several tectonic shifts worldwide. In India, the digital drive was already in full swing much before Covid-19 struck. But the Indian people were still hesitant to shop online owing to lack of comfort in using digital platforms. Health concerns over Covid-19 took away that limitation and as a result, online channel became the No. 1 choice for the Indian consumers to purchase products.

The survey found, online shopping intent for daily essentials has increased considerably with 55% respondents saying they plan to spend more on groceries, 44% on medicines, 49% on general household items and 26% on books. Due to the strict lockdown consumers were compelled to explore online buying options for daily essentials and as the compulsion became the habit, they can see the positives of online shopping especially for regular mundane needs.

There is also a progressive trend towards using e-commerce platforms for buying certain discretionary items like apparel (53%) and electronics (50%). The trend demonstrates that consumers are avoiding cash transactions and physical shopping to combat the rising infection rate. It also portrays rising confidence in the consumers as they are now ready to spend on non-essential elements with slightly higher price-tags.

Digital entertainment in India is growing by leaps and bounds. Although the lockdown norms have been relaxed widely, people are still unable to visit entertainment parks, multiplexes, gyms and lounges. A large number of A-grade Bollywood films have released on several OTT platforms and web streaming has become prime source of entertainment for the Indian audience. Due to this growing trend, mobile internet spending is expected to increase by 52% while digital entertainment expenditure is set to rise by 36% (in comparison to the last 4 weeks).

India is experiencing a rise in the trend of owning vehicles, owing to the fear of limiting public transportation (81%) and ride-hailing services (75%). The willingness to buy their next vehicle through an online channel has increased by 60%. It is an essential positive development for the automobile industry that was reeling under tremendous pressure due to reduced sales. Another important finding in the sector is that 79% of respondents said, they are more likely to hold on to their present vehicles longer than previously intended.

The emergent consumer persona shows 73% as socially conscious and 71% as convenience seeker while 69% are inclined to buy locally sourced items with vocal for local sentiment.

Surprisingly, leisure travel in India is witnessing a positive momentum with the consumers displaying a higher intent for leisure travel in comparison to other countries. 58% respondents said they are willing to fly within the country while 55% are ready to take international flights over the course of next 90 days. With remote working becoming the norm during Covid-19, a trend of “workation” is growing stronger as evident in the finding where 56% respondents felt hotel stay was safe enough for them.

Large online and e-commerce players of international stature had expected surge in the usage of online channels. Major Indian players have ramped up their capabilities to meet the rising demand of the Indian market. Indian consumers have become tech-savvy in lightning fast speed due to the Covid push. Shift to digital mode of shopping is expected to stay long term and as consumers become more comfortable, the demand for a better shopping experience will grow. Companies that respond with adequate innovation can capitalize this opportunity of growth.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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