For 49% consumers, e-shopping became preferred mode during Covid: Survey

“2020 has been the transformative year in the history of Indian e-commerce because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the LocalCircles survey
Consumer trust in e-commerce is growing rapidly amidst the coronavirus pandemic. About 49 per cent of Indian consumers say e-commerce sites and apps became the preferred mode of shopping for them in the last 12 months, according to a survey by LocalCircles, a community-based social network. 18 per cent said they “called local retail stores and got home delivery” and 31 per cent “visited the mall, local retailers, markets and shop there.”

“2020 has been the transformative year in the history of Indian e-commerce because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the LocalCircles survey. “Something that would have taken 3-5 years in terms of consumer acquisition and penetration happened in just one year. E-commerce became a way of life or habit which is likely to continue into 2021.”

The LocalCircles survey is based on an extensive study that received over 130,000 responses from over 42,000 unique consumers located in 358 districts of India. 48 per cent of the study participants were from tier 1 districts while 31 per cent were from tier 2 districts and 21 per cent were from tier 3, tier 4 and rural districts.

The are many reasons for consumers trusting e-commerce sites and apps in the last 12 months, more than before. 

86 per cent of the e-commerce shoppers said safe deliveries or no reason to step out, 50 per cent said competitive prices and 48 per cent said ease of return or return policy. 46 per cent said expanded product selection, 45 per cent said faster deliveries, and another 45 per cent said increased product information and relatable reviews. 

The participants were asked why they continued the use of e-commerce sites and apps to regularly make their purchases in the last 12 months. 63 per cent said personal safety or social distancing norms due to Covid-19 and 61 per cent said convenience. This was followed by ease of return or refund and better value.

The aggregate responses from 10,530 responses in the poll indicate that the shoppers used online service to buy a huge variety of products. These ranged from vegetables, festive supplies, home furnishings to laptops. Alternatively, looking at the percentage of categories of products consumers purchased via e-commerce platforms, 69 per cent purchased essentials and groceries and  54 per cent bought medium-value items like electronic accessories, apparel and sporting goods. 32 per cent purchased high-value discretionary items like gadgets, white goods and furniture.

When consumers were asked about what was the information they found helpful when shopping on e-commerce sites, the majority of consumers mentioned elements such as product description, delivery dates and return policies. The other details that they found useful included rating, reviews high-quality pictures and warranty information.

Approximately twice as many consumers found returning products easier via e-commerce sites and apps as compared to retail stores in the last 12 months. The findings indicated that the majority of consumers rely on product reviews and ratings on e-commerce sites before buying a product.

To understand why consumers used digital or online payments on e-commerce platforms, the findings indicate that “convenience and transaction tracking” were the top reasons.  About 57 per cent of consumers who shopped e-commerce sites and apps used credit cards for the majority of their purchases, mainly because of the easy monthly instalment on payments.

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