e-Shopping in the time of Coronavirus has given impetus to the hyperlocal and eCommerce boom. With millions changing and reinforcing their shopping habits, ideal market conditions have been created for the growth of these businesses.
Coresight Research survey, said, “Shopping centers/malls were expected to be the most-avoided places, but more than half of respondents said they would also avoid shops in general.”
This emotion is leading people to furiously click on a screen to land on E-commerce websites and portals. People are not going out when they can have things delivered at their doorstep and E-commerce businesses have been quick to latch on to hyperlocal deliveries. Even giant E-commerce companies are blocking all shipments of nonessential products to its warehouse as it is seeing a significant increase in essentials orders due to the current pandemic.
They are riding on the wave to make sure it has all the essentials stocked up. All this frenzied activity means that a huge strain is being put on the E-commerce firms’ supply chain thereby resulting in shipment delays, technical problems, and also labor shortages. Customer experience has now become more important than ever for E-commerce firms. In these testing times, it can make or break customer satisfaction.
The global hyperlocal services market is estimated to register a CAGR of 17.9% from 2021 to 2027.
Desperate times, desperate measures. With the ever-changing market, businesses don’t want to fall short in any area. In an effort to maximize operations with reduced resources, brands are re-inventing ways that disrupt market taboos. Hyperlocal delivery of food to groceries and medicine to essentials has made a resurgence over the past few months amid the ongoing worldwide lockdown. And the Indian consumer, specifically, has been quick to adapt to the change.
E-commerce companies and other delivery-based businesses are forming partnerships with local stores to fulfill increased orders at a time when customers are buying essentials in large volumes. Hyperlocal delivery, a model of picking up goods from neighborhood stores and supermarkets, had gained popular investor interest a few years ago. A bunch of startups had launched ventures to ride the boom and subsequently raised venture capital.
Companies like Amazon and Grofers, leading players in this season initially, went on to set up their warehouses instead of partnering with retailers. Others, like food-delivery app Swiggy, which launched Swiggy Stores with retailer partnerships initially also pivoted to opening dark stores to stock products. Walmart-owned Flipkart made several attempts to work with retailers to fulfill grocery orders, but launched Supermart, which relied on a back-end network of own warehouses. Currently, Grofers operates on a model where it establishes large warehouses and smaller ones within cities. The mini facilities are operated by distributors who fulfill their last-mile deliveries to keep costs in check.
Whether these offline retailers choose to work with these companies after the lockdown will depend on how the big organizations approach this. For physical retail chains, this has come as an opportunity to sharpen their phygital presence.
Despite steady market growth rates and its growing popularity, hyperlocal e-commerce is faced with challenges ahead like any other business. From getting massive numbers of customers onboarded who are still wary of the pervasiveness of technology, to last-mile infra issues and seamless partner coordination. As the market expands, the consolidation of this segment will be stronger; but what will define a successful player in this field is a business’s ability to deliver great service with greater CX.
As order volumes and customer service demands grow, many companies begin to realize that their increasingly complex operations like customer service and partner integrations are a step away from their core business. Thus starts the journey of exploring options for securing partners that can help you expand while growing with the needs of your brand.
By outsourcing your non-core operations, including tech support, inventory management, warehousing, order fulfillment, returns, customer support, and business infrastructure, your business can save on upfront costs with a full-service outsourcing partner. If built and managed in-house, significant investment is required for platform implementation, systems integration, web development, back-office support, logistics, and hiring full-time employees to operate your business. Whereas outsourcing the same will require a significantly smaller upfront investment because they will already have the people, processes, technology, and warehouses in place and ready to go.
As a single business, you’re unlikely to achieve the economies of scale that a full-service third-party provider can provide because of the volume of business that they conduct with technology partners, shippers, carriers, and packaging suppliers. Doing it alone, you won’t have access to the best rates for web servers, fraud protection, payment processing, web developers, tax solutions, warehousing, packaging, and shipping. An outsourcing partner does it for you, with their local contacts and dedicated skilled team.
We’re not just talking about dollars and cents (or sense) here. Investing in the requisite direct-to-consumer brand strategy, e-store promotions, customer support, warehousing, IT systems, and people is like walking a financial tightrope. But failure is a major concern to most brands. If consumers have a negative experience while shopping directly, they’ll lose sight of your brand values and become less willing to buy in the future through any channel. Also, by focusing on your E-commerce at the expense of your core business, you’re at risk for opportunity costs.
You can experiment with new products, new geographic markets, and new areas of promotions and customer acquisition, leaving the back office, technical and logistical headaches to your outsourcing service provider. Outsourcing can also level the playing field with your major competitors. If they already have a thriving E-commerce business, you can regain lost ground by selecting the right full-service outsourcing partner to help you quickly come up to speed.
E-commerce has become a hugely complex and complicated beast in recent years as the market has gone global, consumers have become extremely picky and well-educated. To make matters worse, marketing has become fragmented, and the competition more fierce than ever. You can no longer pump huge amounts of TV advertising around a brand and sit back and wait for the results to come in. With the rise of the Internet, social media, and global trade, winning at E-commerce now requires massive investments in technology and IT staffing. If your organization is not prepared to play in this arena, then outsourcing would be a wise alternative.
Related resource: What to look for while choosing your outsourcing partner
The pandemic has put to challenging times and all retailers are reacting differently. At present, businesses are concentrating on making new business plans, how to look at stores, how to look at hygiene, how consumer requirements will change, and how technology is already rapidly changing consumer trends.
Now, businesses are focused on creating the world’s easiest user experience. It builds platforms for securing data, integrating, layered with applications for user-friendly AI-assisted analysis and delightful customer experiences.
Given the opportunities, namely, India’s demography and the adaptation of technology, the hyperlocal space is set for tremendous growth. And success in such an industry managing and fulfilling customer expectations. Get the experts involved and watch the magic happen.