e-Retailing - A Rapidly Growing Universe
Online Pet Care Retail in India
Individual visitors will be given more importance by e-commerce sites, keeping an eye on shopping patterns and purchase history
By Rashi Sanon Narang
Rashi Sanon Narang is the founder of online pet store, Heads Up For Tails. Rashi studied Human Resource Management at the London School of Economics and then worked with a multinational bank as well
The growth of the online pet care retail market has gone hand-in-hand with India's epoch breaking e-commerce boon in recent times. As per studies conducted by industry giant McKinsey & Co, India will boast of a staggering netizen base hovering between 330 and 370 million by 2015, making it second only to China as far as the highest user numbers in the world are concerned. E-commerce is only expected to grow in India as a natural result of the above statistic and this heralds both newer opportunities and challenges in its wake. As per market statistics, the Indian consumer retail market is likely to touch a whopping $675 billion by 2016 and even $850 billion by 2020 with a CAGR (cumulative annual-growth rate) standing at seven percent.
The Indian e-commerce market is currently worth in excess of $14 billion as per estimates with an annual growth rate of 30 percent with regard to active online shoppers. This is in stark contrast to the global average percentage, i.e. between 8-10 percent. Divided into B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-consumer) segments, Indian e-commerce markets are displaying a CAGR of 57 percent between 2012-16 which is astounding by all means and powers India to the top in the entire Asia-Pacific region according to Forrester. Non-travel online commerce companies collectively comprise around 20-25 percent of the mainstream B2C segment in India and e-tailing companies represent the fastest growing division amongst the same.
Some of the popular categories in this segment include consumer electronics, mobile phones, apparel, books and computer hardware whereas a steady market expansion has been witnessed of late, covering categories like furniture, cosmetics, organic food, beauty products, furniture and chiefly, pet care.
How Big is Pet Care in the Present Context?
Pet care retail businesses are growing at a steady pace even as other industries bear the brunt of an economy that has its wings clipped. It has been observed that consumers do not compromise on purchases for their pets in spite of cutting back on discretionary spend for themselves. Pet ownership and spending have jointly increased, with a greater number of double income families choosing to adopt pets. According to Euromonitor International, even the Indian pet care industry is worth more than $4.5 billion despite per capita income in India hovering around $1,256.
Dogs account for a whopping 80 percent of all pets in the country, followed by cats and fish. As per expert opinions, the domestic pet care market is slated to grow at a rate of around 10-15 percent annually. According to global research experts, online pet care stores are attaining immense popularity on account of customer convenience and variety. Being one-stop pet care solutions and repositories of premium pet care brands, online pet care retail has finally come of age in a steadily growing market.
Demand for Online Pet Products, Trends and More!
As per market observations, popular pet care products include pet food and grooming essentials followed closely by luxury pet products and apparel. Global pet care brands are witnessing high levels of demand in the Indian market and Euromonitor International estimates the organised pet care market to touch a staggering `800 crore ($128.5 bn) by 2015 as a result. According to industry watchers, the entry of organised retail through both offline and online channels has facilitated the entry of top notch global brands and sparked increased customer spending in turn. Indians spend mostly on pet food while pet healthcare and grooming follow closely. Analysts forecast a rapid upgrade to specialised and premium pet products in urban areas with further elevation in the status of pets.
One of the biggest trends currently revolves around the launch of innovative new products by companies and manufacturers including touch sensitive feeding bowls, cooling coats and beds, GPS tracking collars and more! Hygiene and convenience are expected to be the two biggest growth drivers in India's pet care industry over the next few years with more and more products geared towards meeting these needs. In addition, average consumer spend on pets will scale up to a minimum of `2,000 a month ($32) in the next couple of years according to market estimates and developments. The concept of an Omni-channel will influence direct e-tailing in the pet care industry, whereby both physical and online stores will be suitably aligned towards meeting specific requirements of customers. Weaving these channels together will eliminate any possibilities of customer differentiation, and help provide a more comprehensive experience to customers.
Customisation and Greater Interactivity
Customisation is another trend when it comes to online pet care. Individual visitors will be given more importance by e-commerce sites, keeping an eye on shopping patterns and purchase history. Adapting product portfolios towards the average requirements of regular shoppers will be the key towards maintaining steady customer loyalty and interest. In addition, ecommerce websites may also look to adapt the look and design of an actual, physical store for providing superior guidance to customers. The advent of more interactive customer support solutions cannot be ruled out either in this regard.
Challenges for Online Pet Care Retail in India
The primary challenge for pet care e-retail in India lies in overcoming the limitations intrinsically present in a niche market. Being a niche segment in the country, tapping the burgeoning base of prospective customers is possible through constant innovation and unique alignment of products to specific customer needs. Customer understanding holds the key towards cracking this market along with consistency. This segment does not really thrive on volumes and hence scaling up will always be tricky.
Even with double digit growth rate, the increasing number of entrants into the online pet care and retail segment translates into enhanced competition. E-commerce sites can only stand out with newer, more innovative categories and offerings, multiple purchase channels, interactive customer solutions and of course, customisation to the farthest extent possible.
Another challenge faced is the disorganised Pet Sector. Most suppliers still don't have up to date technology to give estimates on stocks and deliveries, thus making it difficult to source orders on demand for customers.
However, it is pertinent to state that with the unlimited growth opportunities in store for online pet care entrepreneurs and websites, the sky is definitely the limit for those who dare to dream big!
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