40% Indian consumers getting supplies delivered via e-commerce, local shops

A shopkeeper wears a mask and sanitizes his hands at Crawford market in Mumbai. Photo: PTI
Although Covid-19 lockdown has ended, 40 per cent Indian consumers are still getting a majority of their essential and non-essential supplies home delivered via e-commerce platforms or local stores. Majority of the consumers are ordering via e-commerce and home delivery services to minimise exposure to others and for convenience, according to a new survey by community platform LocalCircles.

Consumers were asked how they were buying a majority of their essential and non-essential supplies. About 21 per cent said they were buying from e-commerce sites, 19 per cent said they were getting home delivery done from retail and local stores, while only 1 per cent said they were purchasing the products from malls. About 11 per cent said they were buying the items from department stores and 47 per cent said they were still purchasing from local markets.

“This would mean that 40 per cent consumers are now getting the majority of their essential and non-essential supplies home delivered via e-commerce or local retail stores,” said the LocalCircles survey, which received over 25,000 responses from 231 districts of India.

When consumers were asked about the key reasons behind their decision to purchase most of their essential and non-essential supplies via e-commerce and home delivery, about 71 per cent of them said minimising exposure to coronavirus (Covid-19) and convenience were the main reasons.

The top issues experienced by consumers when purchasing supplies through e-commerce and home delivery included long delivery times, higher prices followed by exchange, returns and refunds, according to the survey. It said the rise in demand had definitely led to the disappearance of many of the so-called ‘big discounts’ which the e-commerce sites claimed to provide.

Most major grocery platforms, for instance, have reduced the discounts offered on even their in house brands from 25-35 per cent range to 0-15 per cent range. The consumer is clearly paying for convenience. Also, exchange and returns according to consumers have become difficult due to restrictions placed due to containment zone rules, colony and society rules.

Many brick and mortar stores are now taking orders over phone and WhatsApp. About 40 per cent of consumers are using both these options quite effectively not just in metros but also Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities of India. “If this continues for a few more months, it is likely to become a habit for many consumers,” said LocalCircles. “If that happens, malls and traditional retailers that rely for sales primarily on store visits will have to change their models and value proposition to cater to this new model,” it added.

After Lockdown 1.0 started in the 4th week of March, many consumers resorted to ordering groceries via e-commerce platforms or by calling up their neighbourhood stores. Though e-commerce platforms struggled initially with curfew passes and delivery of essential supplies, by Lockdown 2.0 on April 15, they started delivering essentials consistently. During Lockdown 2.0 and Lockdown 3.0, the e-commerce platforms and home delivery by neighbourhood stores became effective models for people to get essentials. With Lockdown 4.0, consumers found additional relief as they could also order non-essential supplies via these platforms.

Amid coronavirus (Covid-19) fears, many consumers have continued limiting their movement through Lockdown 4.0 and Unlock 1.0. “Even now in Unlock 2.0 they are choosing to continue the home delivery by local stores and ordering via e-commerce platforms,” said LocalCircles.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel