In Diwali sales, smartphones emerge as shopping tool of choice

Criteo predicts that mobile commerce is going to dominate e-commerce in driving online sales this year

With a rapid increase in the number of smartphones and mobile data consumption, phones have become the first point of brand interaction with their users. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
With a rapid increase in the number of smartphones and mobile data consumption, phones have become the first point of brand interaction with their users. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

New Delhi: Online shoppers are moving from e-commerce to m-commerce this festive season, according to data published by Criteo, a performance-marketing technology company. Criteo released seasonal data in anticipation of Diwali, to help e-commerce companies better understand their customers and their buying behaviour during the festive season.

Based on consumer’s online browsing and buying activity during the peak season last year (8 October- 8 November 2015), the pre-Diwali period saw an upsurge in average visitors on key Indian retailers’ websites, leading to an increase of average sales of e-commerce companies.

Mobile commerce to overtake web browsers in driving sales

The company now predicts that mobile commerce or m-commerce is going to dominate e-commerce in driving sales this year. With a rapid increase in the number of smartphones and mobile data consumption, phones have become the first point of brand interaction with their users. Thus, the smartphone represents the most personalized medium to reach India’s consumer audience.

According to Criteo data, 40% of online traffic on major retail companies was generated by mobile phones during the festive season in 2015. This is bound to jump this year as m-commerce is clearly experiencing a tremendous rise in India. Customers prefer buying new brands from upcoming shopping websites, where they are offered best prices as well as discounts. With the ease of m-commerce, they get the option to explore thousands of brands at the click of a button.

Moreover, it reduces the effort of hopping from one shop to another, saving time, money and energy. The in-app availability of e-commerce companies such as Amazon and Flipkart has further triggered the rise of m-commerce in India. In fact, Amazon has launched a new lighter version of its main app for Indian online shoppers, ahead of the festival season as it prepares to take on rivals like Flipkart in what is widely being seen as the biggest sales showdown in Indian e-commerce. Criteo suggests that it is crucial for retail companies to start the in-app interface as well, considering major buying behaviour is changing from desktop to mobile commerce.

With the rise of e-commerce companies and their growing popularity in India, the festive season has become a period of fierce competition for key Indian retailers. Various e-commerce platforms launch mega-sales before the festive period, thereby launching a brand war with high budget spending on advertising as well as sales offers on consumer durable products and services.

According to Criteo’s findings, which are based on an analysis of 6 million online transactions made in India last year, the rise in average online traffic on key retail companies’ websites reached up to 35%. Also, during the same period, the maximum sale on these websites was seen going up to 87%.

When asked about this e-commerce trend, Dushyant Sapre, commercial director, Criteo India, said: “India is experiencing the digital growth as Indian consumers are taking a leap forward with their readiness to experiment and shop online. The technology savvy users today want to explore new brands, and choose from the variety of product categories, services and e-commerce platforms. With easy return policies, various payment options, cash on delivery and quick delivery services, it is expected that online shoppers in India may reach 175 million by 2020.”

Sapre further stated that “it’s a challenge for e-commerce platforms to understand the changing user behaviour and retain their users, because with such wide range of options available, the attention span of a user has reduced drastically.”

Cross-device surfing leading to final purchase

It is well known that users are now moving back and forth between smartphones, tablets, and computers throughout the day. When at home, one-fifth of people use another device while concurrently using a computer. This means that consumers now interact with a brand concurrently on more than one type of device, making it critical for marketers to provide the same great experience across screens.

With increasing internet penetration expected to reach 650 million by 2020, a whole generation of consumers is moving from offline to online, experiencing e-commerce for the first time through mobile web or apps. Online transactions now involve the use of multiple devices during product search and purchase. E-commerce sales across the region are expected to increase in 2016. While these developments point to a huge opportunity for digital businesses across the region, engaging shoppers across multiple devices remains a major challenge for brands.

Criteo found that 36% of buyers browsed retailers’ websites with a different device before making a final purchase. Therefore, it is necessary for retailers to realize the importance of reaching their customers across devices while understanding the users’ surfing and buying behaviour. Cross-device advertising today is helping brands build brand recall in the minds of the users.