What is Disrupting E-Commerce in 2021?

With altering consumer interests, behaviour and tech advancements, what disruptions will be brought by e-commerce in 2021?


Be it agriculture, health, pharmacy, fruits and vegetables, fashion and jewellery, or white goods, Indian e-commerce is burgeoning across all these consumer categories. Though vaccination drives have commenced, the virus still has time for its eradication. In the wake of the second wave of the pandemic where the infection rate is back to the past year, thus imposing regional lockdowns and curfews it is likely that the Indian shoppers will remain loyal to e-commerce in the future. The e-commerce sector is currently at an inflection point with digital transformation witnessing population from hinterlands embracing technology bringing in first-time consumers thus expanding the customer base. According to a report from EY- IVCA India Trendbook 2021 India’s e-commerce is estimated to reach $99 Billion by 2024 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at 27 per cent with grocery and fashion becoming the tailwinds of its growth. Despite a sluggish economy, pay cuts, and conscious spending, major e-commerce players such as Lenskart, Flipkart and Nykaa are planning to launch IPO ( Initial Public Offering ) thus, unleashing the industry’s potential. In the next few years as more and more, Gen Z will comprise the workforce population unlocking newer demographics and consumer behaviour, more new market segments will emerge that will lead to disruptions in e-commerce ecosystem. Below are some of the disruptions in e-commerce that 2021 will witness.

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According to a report from EY- IVCA India Trendbook 2021 India’s e-commerce is estimated to reach $99 Billion by 2024 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at 27 per cent with grocery and fashion becoming the tailwinds of its growth.

Upcoming Disruptions in E-commerce

Growth of E-pharmacy 

 The pharmacy market in India is fragmented with its brick and mortar stores in rural and semi-urban areas not having adequate drug inventory. There exists only a handful of retail pharmacies across smaller towns and cities, thus offering poor availability of medicines and other health accessories. The advent of e-pharmacy platforms such as Netmeds, Pharmaeasy, Medlife, etc. is disrupting conventional drug sales in India. According to the RedSeer survey, over 70 per cent of users are willing to use e-pharmacy post-covid-19 due to the positive experience coupled with stronger adoption among low-income households. A major reason for online pharmacy’s growth can be attributed to the paradigm shift in consumer behaviour. Consumers today are conscious about leading a healthy lifestyle and are interested to buy from drugstores that do more than just selling medicines. They require a wellness companion that can offer them holistic wellness solutions to lead a healthy lifestyle. Products such as protein shakes, fitness equipment, nutraceutical foods are more appealing to the health-conscious segment. Hence,here the online pharmacy platform with its efficient supply chain system can aid consumers get access to the hard-to-find medicines in semi-urban and rural areas as well. The omnichannel drug retail will experience a boom with superior quality of service and personalized offerings giving greater consumer control. Anticipating the growth in online drug retail conglomerates and e-commerce giants such as Reliance, Tata, and Amazon are eyeing to own major stakes in the homegrown online medicine platforms. 

Whatsapp Payments and Shopping button

As per Statista, Indians form the lion’s share of Whatsapp downloads by 340 million, making it the most preferred messaging app in the nation. The newly introduced features of Whatsapp namely Whatsapp payments and shopping button has made the social messaging app a central platform to thrive the e-commerce businesses. With the launch of the shopping button in its business app, it will allow users to browse through its business catalogue, making it convenient for the users to discover goods or services offered and increasing visibility when clicked on the business profile, eventually increasing sales, that otherwise required to share a PDF of the catalogue. The Whatsapp payments features powered by BHIM UPI allow money to be transferred directly between banks thus, simplifying the payment on the instant messaging app. These two features will prove to be highly beneficial to the local business and small businesses that currently do not have a website due to strained budgets. Many fashion- tech D2C companies such as SockSoho are receiving orders through its Whatsapp account.

 Introducing AI tools for a personalised approach 

Implementing artificial intelligence (AI) tools in e-commerce is not new. However, with changing consumers these days prefer to purchase from brands that offer them to celebrate uniqueness and the liberty to express themselves vividly. Hence, e-commerce companies will be adopting AI tools for a more personalised approach that will help in enhanced customer engagement, track shopping habits, and chatbots for improved customer service eventually generating better demand and conversions.

New E-commerce: Social e-commerce 

The introduction of new selling features on Facebook and Instagram such as Facebook marketplaces, Facebook shops and Instagram selling features is opening new avenues for small and medium businesses. According to a report by Bain & Company, it states that small sellers constitute 85 percent of all social commerce players. Social commerce allows small businesses to acquire customers at lower costs as compared to e-commerce giants that spend enormous budgets on marketing for acquiring. Sellers through social commerce gain a deeper understanding of customer behaviour for consumers in rural India. Apart from leveraging social media platforms, various social commerce platforms such as Meesho, Saral Jeevan Sahelis are adopting an assisted commerce platform that will give rural customers access to a plethora of rural-friendly products and services. 

For the startups to enter the e-commerce

Investors are now interested to fund in business models that are not following the suit of e-commerce aggregators such as Amazon and Flipkart. Instead, they are looking for unique business models that can effectively solve the problems of the customer and remain resilient to the ever-changing consumer behaviour, thus bringing disruptions in e-commerce.

Shalmoli Sarkar
Shalmoli Sarkar
An MBA in marketing and a BTech in chemical engineering, Shalmoli writes on marketing strategies and business technology for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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