Competing in a high-pressure business scenario has become a challenge for retailers. As an effective alternative sales channel sellers are looking at the internet, which gives them direct access to target customers. Online retailing (also known as e-tail) is a web-enabled interface between a retailer and its target consumers for selling products and services on the web with the facility of ecommerce. These kinds of retailers are also known as e-tailers. Almost all big retailers are now electronically present on the World Wide Web.
After the invention of WWW (World Wide Web) web browser in 1990’s, release of Mozilla Netscape navigator in 1994 and opening of first online retail by Pizza Hut, the online retail has gone through a lot of transformation and today it is still developing in a very diversified way. E-tail has become very popular in the areas of apparel, arts and handicrafts, books, car rentals, computers and electronics, cosmetics, financial services, gifts and novelties, etc. This retail could be an e-store, internet shop, web shop, web store, online store or virtual store.
Some of the major advantages of e-tail which makes it popular among the retailers are low investment cost, direct access to target customers and quick return on investment. This kind of retail format helps the retailers to serve their customer quickly and more efficiently by offering them a detailed portfolio of products and services. On the other hand, availability of the point of transaction data helps the retailers to analyse and interpret their target customers. It has become the most efficient way to offer valuable information to the customers like discounts, promotions, new and existing products as per the customer requirements and past shopping behaviour. Availability of plenty of information about the products has increased the confidence level among the consumers.
Online retail industry in India is likely to be worth Rs. 70 billion by 2015 according to Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India. The buying-selling trends from leading e-tail portals indicated that online retail market currently stands at Rs. 20 billion and is growing at a steady annual rate of 35%. Among Indian states, Maharashtra has the best IT infrastructure, both from the retail industry perspective as well as consumers. Mumbai accounts for a 24 per cent share in India’s e-commerce transactions. Some of the popular Indian online retailers are Staples Inc, Home Shop 18, Indiaplaza, eBay India, Future Bazaar, India Times, Rediff, etc. Easy availability of broadband services and increasing internet penetration is acting as a support to the growth of online retailing. The increasing purchasing power of the Indian customers is set to bring online shopping boom in India. One of the latest additions to online retail is advertising through social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. Apart from website technologies, retail leaders are trying to adopt video, mobile and social media strategies with a view to provide richer, more engaging and user friendly experience.
After bringing revolution in the metro cities, online retailing is set to create sensation even in the rural areas. Furthermore, with the opening up of the Indian economy in relation to change in the FDI strategies, it is a wake-up call for retailers that have done too little to develop an online strategy as retail giants like Tesco, and Amazon have already started actions and strategy implementation in the Indian retail market.