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Flipkart sees tier 3+ markets as the new frontier for e-commerce

It clocked 65 per cent new user growth from tier 3+ markets during Unlock.

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KOLKATA: With the need for social distancing and prioritising safety, the pandemic has led to millions of people turning to e-commerce this past year, not only in metros but in tier-3 regions and beyond as well. Etailers have focused on ecosystem partnerships, technological advancements and new tools that enable ease of experience for first-time users and to meet the needs of consumers this year, while ensuring business continuity for millions of MSMEs and sellers.

Flipkart has witnessed interesting demand patterns across India in 2020 as it catered to an array of consumer requirements in this unprecedented year. The company focused on consistently addressing the needs of aspiring customers in tier-3+ regions, who seek the latest products but have limited access, and customers in metros who seek new products with a minimum delivery time frame.

From changes in category preferences, the emergence of the ‘new essentials’ category, to the adoption of native languages, and surge in new-age forms of payments, 2020 has borne witness to an array of unique consumer trends.

‘Bharat’ consumers lead the race in a post-pandemic world

E-commerce established deep inroads in different regions of the country this year. As people turned to online shopping to meet daily necessities as well as non-discretionary purchases, Flipkart witnessed a new user growth of close to 50 per cent right after the lockdown, with tier-3+ regions registering the highest growth of 65 per cent during the Unlock (July-September) phase. Consumers from tier-2 and tier-3+ regions also spent the most time on the platform, signalling a continuing rise in user engagement and a shift in shopping preferences.

Increased adoption courtesy voice assistant and vernacular interface

To ensure that first-time users are at ease while shopping, Flipkart introduced two new capabilities to handhold them through the purchase journey – a voice assistant in grocery, and vernacular interfaces across multiple languages including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. As more consumers joined the e-commerce bandwagon this year, a growing preference to shop in their local language was seen. This year, the adoption of native languages saw a 2.5X increase from pre-Covid to the festive period (January to November 2020).

Digital transactions reach new heights with UPI surge

This year, consumers across India embraced and increasingly relied on the convenience of online financial transactions. UPI adoption on the Flipkart platform increased nationally by 4.5X from January 2020 to August 2020, with Maharashtra taking the lead with a 5.2X growth. Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu were the other states that were at the top of the list for UPI adoption on the platform.

MSMEs and micro-businesses become atmanirbhar

E-commerce, over the last few years, has played a significant role in accelerating the growth of MSMEs, micro-businesses, artisans, weavers and handicraft makers across the country. This year, e-commerce played an even more essential role in extending livelihood opportunities and a chance of operational revival as these businesses were hit severely due to the pandemic.

Flipkart saw close to a 35 per cent increase in sellers onboarded in 2020, in comparison to the same period last year. These sellers came from tier-2 and tier-3 regions such as Tirupur, Howrah, Zirakpur, Hisar, Saharanpur, Panipat, and Rajkot. They primarily catered to categories such as household needs, women’s ethnic wear, grooming, home decor and toys and school supplies.

To ease the transition of MSMEs to online retail, Flipkart has offered working capital support, constant counsel to leverage unique benefits on its marketplace model, analytics and market intelligence to support business decisions as well as on-ground support to ensure smooth movement of goods.

The emergence of ‘new essentials’ in 2020

The term ‘essentials’ got a whole new interpretation in 2020, as consumer needs evolved dynamically throughout the year. Moving beyond what was previously perceived as critical goods, the definition has now shifted to include daily items that a consumer needs, not just for food or health, but also for work and even remote learning. Pre-Covid, the most searched products included personal care, men’s clothing, footwear and women’s clothing. During the lockdown, food and nutrition, household, toys and audio products witnessed the highest demand.

In fact, this year has been marked by catering to evolving consumer preferences, said Flipkart Group chief corporate affairs officer Rajneesh Kumar said.

“The emergence of ‘the new essentials’ has seen the creation of greater opportunities and partnerships on our marketplace. This past year, we have strived to expand our offerings across categories to ensure our consumers are well-equipped with everything that they need. We have consistently worked towards creating an ecosystem that serves consumers’ growing needs and also helping Indian sellers and MSMEs access the pan-India market more effectively and efficiently,” Kumar added.

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