Thanks to the Coronavirus, e-commerce platforms are seeing an increase in traffic this festive season.
These are unprecedented times and COVID-19 has affected the sense of normalcy for everyone. People have now realised that e-commerce is the safest way for them to get what they need at their doorstep. And, sellers now increasingly recognise that e-commerce is the best way for them to serve their customers, as their footfalls were impacted as well.
One of the biggest changes is that the trial and return period of clothes has changed from 15 to 30 days. Most of the time, when consumers receive a package, they keep it aside for a few days. So, the 30-day period may help them make decisions, while staying safe.
Arun Sirdeshmukh, business head, Amazon Fashion India, mentions that during this time, Amazon has seen an increased penetration and coverage of online shopping from Tier-II and III markets.
“Today, we see more than 80 per cent of our new shoppers from these markets. Given the onset of the festive season, we have seen increased customer interest in ethnic wear. We observed men’s ethnic wear grow at 5x (1.2x growth versus last year). At the ongoing Great Indian Festival, women’s kurtas, kurtis and sarees were among the top three subcategories in apparel, where we got the highest customer traction.”
Sirdeshmukh says that according to a recent consumer sentiment survey by management consulting firm RedSeer, 80 per cent of the consumers are looking to spend on fashion categories during this festive season sales, while 34 per cent are looking to increase their spends on fashion buys. An additional 10 per cent customers from metro cities are also expected to shop during festive sales this year.
Sirdeshmukh adds that this festive season, customers shopped during the Great Indian Festival for basic essentials requirements like T-shirts, tops, flip flops, hair accessories, fitness tracker and smartwatches to ethnic wear, casuals, sportswear, luggage, jewellery and loved Amazon’s designer wear, premium luggage and watches collection.
“More than 20 million customers showed their interest in Amazon Fashion by visiting our store on Amazon.in, highlighting the huge traction Amazon Fashion has for its customers. We received orders from more than two million customers for fashion in the first 72 hours of the Great Indian Festival,” says Sirdeshmukh.
Mahesh Murthy, investor, marketer, and founder of digital brand firm Pinstorm, points out that typically, there are two buying seasons for Indian apparel online - June and November.
“This year of the pandemic, we completely lost June. It was down 75 per cent over last year. But November is coming back with a vengeance. It looks like it will be 50 per cent more than what it was last year. People are probably deciding 'enough is enough'. I've survived so far and I'm going to get some nice clothes for myself and the family,” he explains.
Murthy adds that the types of traditional clothes being sought are different too. Apart from the standards, like kurtas, sarees and lehengas, it seems like this is the year of the sharara, the dhoti and the jodhpuri. “Interest in all three are was way up over last year, along with the pavadai. The ghaghra, though, seems to be missing out a little this year.”
With respect to the extension of return windows with customers, he theorises that this will allow customers to buy with more ease. “Though I suspect many will misuse it by buying, wearing the clothes for the festival and returning them, all within the extended window,” he says.
Sanjeev Agarwal, an independent brand consultant, mentions that in the current scenario, e-commerce is growing and will continue to grow as people are still hesitant to go out. "We are inching closer to normalcy and people have started stepping out now, but not at the same levels as last year, same time."
Agarwal, who is the former CEO of Rangriti, BIBA Apparels, mentions that e-commerce is picking up, will continue to pick up, and this is true across categories.
"We’d want the situation to be normal, but it’s nowhere close to normal. Unlocking of the economy is improving the economy, but it’s still not as high as it was last year, and that is the advantage going towards the e-commerce business," he concludes.