India’s Growing E-Commerce Sector Goes Mainstream – Part 2

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Local or localization has become more than just a buzzword nowadays. Be it the clarion call of ‘Vocal for Local’ to boost domestic business enterprises and homegrown entrepreneurial ventures or RBI’s timely data localization rules (owing to the non-compliance of which, certain global card payments players are facing flak). Across diverse scenarios, including those from the regulatory reform perspective, localization is catching up as a key trend. In e-commerce too, ‘Think Global, Act Local’ is rapidly gaining ground as a key differentiation strategy to grow market share.

Upcoming reforms in the Indian E-commerce Sector

In the coming days, the e-commerce sector in India is all set to witness a landmark change with a core democratization objective under the umbrella name Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC). 

The structure would be a network ecosystem, enabling customers to log in and browse for the required products or services. As per the location, sellers with the required goods and prices would be listed, offering a wide variety of choices for the customer. Further, the ONDC would be seamlessly integrated with multiple payment options and offer last-mile delivery services as well. As per Statista, India’s e-commerce revenue is slated to grow from US$ 45,894 Mn in 2020 to US$ 75,095 Mn by 2024, clocking an impressive 13.1% CAGR.

Source: Economic Times


E-commerce Localization for native customers

Localization can easily enable e-commerce businesses to overcome cultural boundaries, regional preferences and win local customers through targeted marketing. Although technology has made the world a smaller and more interconnected place, often differences in culture, language, regional preferences, and customer perception can impact the sales conversion of an e-commerce business. 

As per a KPMG study, in India, the user base for e-commerce in local languages has the potential to achieve a 32% CAGR and is expected to accumulate over 120 Mn users in the next 5 years.  Thus localization of content, currencies, payment options, naming conventions, etc can go a long way in enhanced customer engagement. We shall look at the ways in which the localization strategy can be effectively rolled out.


E-commerce Localization Steps for Each Market


1. Payment modes

The payment options is a critical aspect to be considered by merchants. Customers generally prefer to pay in the home currency.  A well-integrated payments page with prompt payments option and flexible design, suited to the preferences of Indian customers would improve conversion rates of the e-commerce website.


2. Other factors

A study by Lionbridge mentions the following as core aspects of an effective localization strategy: 

• Naming conventions adopted: Surname, first name or salutation etc. For example, some customers in a B2C or D2C format prefer an informal address while in other cases i.e. a B2B setting, a formal tone communicating a professional or business-like tone would be more acceptable.  

• Telephone formats: with ISD calling code

• Date and time formats: such as DD/MM/YYYY and MM/DD/YYYY or simply MM/YYYY

• Currency: It should be suitable for the local market or convertible into INR

• Language: India is home to over 121 languages with a whopping over 19500 dialects being spoken. Certain e-commerce websites may consider translated content of product descriptions as per the location of the customer to convey the information. For example, for a customer based in the Hindi-speaking regions of Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh, the entire website content may be read in Hindi, as per the customer preference selected in a drop-down menu. This could also extend to positive reviews in a particular vernacular language by other customers belonging to the same region or State. Customers favourably view business entities that speak or understand the same language. However, regional and cultural sensitivities need to be kept in mind without losing the real meaning. 

• System of measurement: In India, for example, the measure might be in kg or litre as against quintal or pound in other countries.  Other measures include Electrical voltages, frequencies etc for electrical products.

• Symbols and diagrams: The use of certain colours and signs can also be localized. India celebrates festivals spread throughout the year. Colors of pink symbolizing Gulal during Holi or the tricolor during Independence Day or yellow symbolizing lights during Deepavali would be examples of localized strategies.


3. Legal requirements

 Compliance with regional laws is an absolute must as regards regulations on consumer laws and data privacy. Certain nations mandate the use of cookie consent and disclosure that store customer-specific information. Further, the local taxes applicable as per jurisdiction i.e. GST needs to be complied with.  

For example, as mentioned in Inc42 article, in April 2018,  RBI had issued a circular elaborating the Data Localization Rules directing all the payments systems providers to ensure that within a period of six months the entire data (full end-to-end transaction details /information collected / carried / processed as part of the message / payment instruction) relating to payment systems operated by them is stored in a system only in India. Non-violation of this clause has resulted in certain global card payments companies being banned from issuing new cards.


4. Social media

 Besides global platforms, integration with local social media platforms like Koo in India and active communication as per customer tastes can help pick up the pulse of the public and offer customised offerings. 


5. Festive shopping

Often e-commerce players offer special discounts and offers to encourage higher volume sales during festivals. Also, specialized products are rolled out with targeted marketing content as per local preference. For example, during Raksha Bandhan, messages emphasizing the bond between siblings are highlighted. 


Concluding thoughts

Familiarity with a brand plays a huge role in winning customer loyalty. An integrated approach works best for an efficient localization strategy. Rather than limiting localization to merely language or translation, it should encompass other dimensions as well – content, text, video, pictorial depiction, currency, delivery modes, design, cultural alignment and most important, selection of a payment option that is compliant with regional laws and delivers a superior shopping experience for native shoppers with a smooth checkout process. 

Simpl, a robust payments product is specially designed for the Indian market with convenient Pay Later options. We engage with leading e-commerce players to enable a quick OTP-based, single click payments’ experience for end customers in India’s home currency (INR). 


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