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Three Things the World Can Learn From India’s E-commerce Leaders

In the race to capture India's surging e-commerce sector, brands, retailers and online marketplaces are using data to get ahead. We spoke to Flipkart, Myntra and Yepme to understand what they're doing, and what the world could learn from them.
Three Things the World Can Learn From India’s E-commerce Leaders | EDITED

To say the Indian e-commerce boom is playing out on the world’s stage may be cliché, but it does make sense. It’s a story not unlike a good drama. There are the homegrown companies vying to remain dominant over global heavyweights. The legend of an emerging market worth a potential $100 billion by 2020. Conference room generals strategizing to gain market share. Somewhere in the not-so-far background are billions of investment dollars awaiting a return. And at the heart of it all is a familiar stimulant: technology.

As connectivity has become a fact of life for more and more of India’s 1.2 billion strong population, consumers have gained access to products and retailers have gained access to consumers. But India’s famously diverse and interwoven culture requires that retailers do more than just “gain access” to make a dent. And to do that, India’s leading e-commerce companies are using EDITED data to stay ahead.

We recently talked to Flipkart, Myntra and Yepme, three of India’s principal players, to find out what they doing right and what the rest of the world can learn from it.

They Are Optimized for Mobile Commerce

This year’s launch of Bharti Airtel’s 4G service has already brought high-speed data to about 300 cities, and that number is set to get a lot bigger when Reliance Jio Infocomm launches its high-speed data service in the Q4.

So how have Indian retailers responded? Well, if you’re Myntra, pretty bluntly: by becoming India’s first mobile-only retailer. Has it worked? Yes.

Just this month, Myntra rolled out a five-day promotion and logged its biggest ever day for app installations, orders and gross merchandise value on day one. And using data, gathered by EDITED from rival mobile apps and websites, has played a significant role in the company’s strategy.  

“With the rise of mobile-internet users, our demand for correct and accurate data becomes paramount,” Shifali Singh, Vice President of International Business at Myntra told us. “[Data] gives us a clear indication of the entry and exit price points of our competitors, it enables us to sharpen our pricing strategy effectively. It also helps us identify price gaps and provide a competitive MRP to our customers.”

Flipkart, India’s biggest e-commerce marketplace with 60,000 sellers and a total valuation of $15.2 billion, also believes in the importance of hooking thumb-shoppers now. This month, the company made its five-day ‘Big Billion Days’ sale (its biggest of the year) app-only. Customers could browse items on the their desktops, but had to download the app to purchase anything for the discounted price. The gamble paid off – the sale, which ended October 17, sold more than $275,500,000 (Rs 1,800 crore) worth of goods.

They Use Data to Build Targeted Assortments

“India is an extremely diverse country with an unbelievably wide range of customer choices and market trends. This is where data plays a crucial role for us in fashion,” said Rishi Vasudev, Vice President of Fashion at Flipkart. “Our focus is to build the largest and most relevant selection across all price points, and we rely heavily on data and technology to drive this through our marketplace sellers.”

Vasudev told us his teams do that by looking for spots in the data that show a high demand with a low supply and pass that information off to sellers with quick turn-around times. As Vasudev puts it, this strategy is key to “building a great selection that ensures we are the most relevant lifestyle destination in India.”

And it’s working. Dipping into the data, it’s no wonder the company’s fashion category is seeing 12-15% month-over-month growth.

They Pay Close Attention to Trends Worldwide

Retailers in every country pay attention to trends, sure. But in India, those trend-led retailers need to track Indian trends and western-style trends. Something EDITED can do, and something India’s largest fast fashion retailer, Yepme, takes full advantage of.

“Being a fast-fashion brand, we are constantly tracking brands and emerging trends in markets inside and outside of India,” said Yepme’s President, Anand Jadhav. “The data we get on products across many brands and retailers is very rich and helps us reduce our margin of error on the product side.”

For Jadhav and the rest of Yepme, data is what keeps them on-trend today and ready for tomorrow. And considering, for example, that more than 22% of its women’s shirt offering has been replenished one or more times, it’s clearly working.

“A lot of our processes and decisions revolve around having the right product, since that directly impacts us financially. The data we get helps us strengthen current products and plan for expected trends in the future, thereby making our inventory far more efficient and reducing our financial risks on the product side,” said Jadhav.