For online retailers, a rural surprise [DNA : Daily News & Analysis (India)]
(DNA : Daily News & Analysis (India) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) "When was the last time you heard of Barpeta
Would never be your most likely answer
Well, the verdant land of Vaishnavaite Satras in the northwest of Guwahati's claim to national fame was when Mahatma Gandhi visited it 1934. Or Jawaharlal Nehru in 1937.
Yehbhi.com, an apparel merchant based in the National Capital Region, says it gets regular orders from folks in Barpeta - all online.
It's a fast-growing trend, they said - online demand for stuff is not restricted only to metros, Tier-II and III towns these days.
Consumers from the nooks and crannies of hinterland are increasingly ordering and shopping online.
Muralikrishnan B, country manager of eBay, said one out of ten transaction comes from rural India.
"These are not just Tier II and II towns, but we have seen orders increasing from the real rural India (as specified by the government)." The widening reach of electronic media and deeper penetration of internet is driving growth. Muralikrishnan said this, coupled with high disposable income among the rural folk has created a large mass of consumers.
"If someone in a far flung village in Tamil Nadu wants to buy a Levi's jeans, then she will have to travel for at least a couple of hours to get hold of one. But they can just order from the comfort of their home and it gets delivered right at the doorstep. This is becoming a compelling proposition for consumers in the remote areas" he said.
He predicts growth in online orders from rural India will more than double in the near future.
Manmohan Agarwal, CEO of Yebhi.com, said villages are entering the online world bigtime.
He offers an unusual math to prove his point: "There are 21,000 registered pin codes in India. Of this, the private courier guys cover no more than 9,000. And the demand from the remaining twelve thousand pin codes have seen a significant upswing," Agarwal said.
He did not divulge how much business is growing by.
E-commerce players say on a region-wise basis, south India leads the trend, followed by west, north and east.
Arun Sirdeshmukh, CEO & co-founder, Fashionara.com, said even the buying pattern in hinterland is not any different from urbania.
"That consumers in small towns or villages are less affluent or less aspirational is a myth. They are consuming the same media and so demand in terms of ticket-size is non-distinct."
As a result. electronics and apparel remain the largest category.
And it is not just buyers. Even the number of sellers online are increasing. "On the supply side, rural entrepreneurs and small-time artisans are increasingly coming to the online platform to sell their ware," says Muralikrishnan.
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