Rajiv Kumar, a qualified Software Engineer, who has a 20+ years of experience, has offered his service to the Companies like Tata Infotech, ST Microelectronics, HCL Technologies, E-Trade Financial, Oracle, Waterfall Mobile, Tavant Technologies. With vast experience and deep knowledge of handling Technical Architecture and Technical Design Projects, he has started his own Operation of providing E-Commerce Solutions to the Small Medium Entrepreneurs and Individual Entrepreneurs.
The growing aspirations, rising income levels and favourable demographics, among many other factors, have encouraged the retail industry to emerge as one of the most fast-growing and dynamic industries. According to IBEF, the Indian e-commerce market will likely grow to US$ 200 billion by 2026 from US$ 38.5 billion in 2017. An increase in internet and smartphone penetration is triggering much of the growth for the industry. As of August 2020, there were ~760 million internet connections in India and ~61% of connections were in urban areas.
E-commerce is the next-generation format that has high growth potential and hyperlocal is the next frontier which is merging the offline and online platforms to transform the shopping experience. In general terms, hyperlocal businesses are the ones that have a local ecosystem, enabling buyers to shop anything from their neighbourhood stores. The increasing number of payment options, increased demand for instant delivery and increase in geo-location aware devices have together paved the way for hyperlocal businesses in India. For consumers, this is an extension of tech-powered convenience. They enjoy doorstep deliveries of groceries, laundry, medicines, food etc. Indeed! Hyperlocal strategy is bridging the gap between online and offline shopping as well as changing the face of retail.
What is Triggering the Growth of Hyperlocal E-commerce?
With evolving customer psyche with reference to their buying behaviour, online shopping has emerged as a popular choice among buyers of all age groups. Scouting the wide variety from the comfort of home, multiple payment options and convenient delivery make e-commerce a preferred way of shopping. The pandemic further accelerated the growth of e-commerce as more people use it for its cashless and contactless features.
However, the ideal shopping gateway has a few challenges which interfere with the user experience – defective products, payment issues and replacement scheduling which often results in a lack of trust and credibility. To overcome the troubles associated with online shopping and ensure a smooth shopping experience, hyperlocal markets have become a popular solution. They perfectly combine the comfort and reliability of the physical stores with the convenience of online shopping, thereby delivering the best of both worlds to the consumers. They tackle the majority of the issues that an e-commerce platform usually faces – transactions, logistics, delivery, inventory management and communication with the customers. Hyperlocal e-commerce follows a customer-centric approach, encompassing the best of the traits of both online and offline shopping.
Hyperlocal: The Logical Next Step
For the e-commerce players, going hyperlocal is the logical next step. In perishable sections such as groceries and food, hyperlocal is already the go-to model. With a simpler logistics model, the hyperlocal strategy ensures lower inventory cost as warehouses become even less of a requirement. Further, the consumers can physically experience the product before buying by visiting the nearby retail store. The close proximity to the store also ensures quick grievance redressal for consumers. By reducing geographical barriers, it also reduces the marketing expenditure as well as provides control over the quantity, quality, variety, and delivery of the products.
Let’s explore the essential key features of a hyperlocal marketplace:
- Ultra Local Distance Calculation
An ideal hyperlocal marketplace system is accurate in the nearby distance calculation. It ensures that a customer is able to search for the required product or services within their range. The customers type their location on the platform and the system shows the nearby products or services to them.
- Inventory Management
Inventory management is one of the most crucial aspects of the hyperlocal marketplace and plays an important role in ensuring the effectiveness of the model. The inventory has real-time sync with different locations so that the customer can see the right stock of the product based on their location.
- Customer Chat Support
Many hyperlocal models offer customer chat support which solves half of the problems in the process of delivering the goods and services to the customers. For instance, if the placed order does not match the stock, the store owner can easily convey the same to the customers and inform them about the reason behind delayed delivery. Apart from this, the two-way communication saves a lot of time and effort for the delivery boy in case the customer is not available. Also, regular update about their order is an added advantage for the customers.
- Delivery Timeline
If we have to name the most critical part of the e-commerce marketplace, it is delivery. The store owners or delivery boys must be able to set the delivery slot availability including date and time. As a result, the customer can easily and conveniently place the order. Also, with the listed schedule of delivery boys, an order will always be assigned to the right person according to their availability. An ideal hyperlocal marketplace always includes this kind of feature.
E-commerce is a supplementary element to the traditional brick and mortar retail model. However, online shopping has affected personal interactions between the store owner and customers as well as physical purchasing. By working in collaboration with hyperlocal spaces, brands are strengthening their relationship with the customers. Due to the rapidly evolving consumer mindset, hyperlocal businesses are tapping on location-based technology to interact with customers in proximity. This ensures the enriched consumer experience, drives revenue and increases operational efficiency.
Indeed! Hyperlocal is the way forward for online retail. It provides a fair battleground for new entrants in addition to providing more avenues to existing players in the industry. Going further, hyperlocal will drive more focus and attention of both investors and entrepreneurs.