Nidhi Sharma, Co-Founder & CEO, Abby – A Live Shopping Platform

Nidhi is the Co-founder & CEO of Abby, A Live Shopping Platform. Abby is a platform for Live Shopping, an ecosystem for Brands, Shoppers and Shopping Experts facilitated by 2-way real-time interaction between Shoppers and Experts & LIVE Product Demos. Abby is striving to make the online shopping world more fun and immersive resembling the offline shopping experience. Nidhi was one of the leading Home Shopping Anchors in the country and sold a variety of products LIVE on TV across Brands like Lenovo, Samsung, Bajaj, Philips, Jashn, W, Satya Paul, Tanishq, Sunsilk & many others. Her biggest LIVE show clocked sales of approx. INR 97 Lakhs in less than 3hrs! She was in the Home Shopping Industry for 8+ years, hosted 2000+ LIVE Shopping Shows and a cumulative GMV of INR 100+ Crores. 

E-commerce was a blessing in the times of the pandemic providing access to essential purchases running our households and some discretionary purchases to still make us satisfy the shopping itch and soothe the rather gloomy zeitgeist.

With Lockdowns, the only safe option available for shopping was the online medium, accelerating its adoption as well. Buying something meant picking up the phone, right?

10 years of e-commerce growth compressed to 3 months after the pandemic was reported in the US. Increase in Online Transactions went from 15.8 to 23.3 per cent for UK; China (from 20.7 to 24.9 per cent), the US (11 to 14 per cent), Australia (6.3 to 9.4 per cent), Singapore (5.9 to 11.7 per cent) and Canada (3.6 to 6.2 per cent) as reported on a UN Story

Let’s look at the two most important prongs to the above outcome – Shoppers and Brands bringing technology to the helm

Shoppers:

This fast forwarding to the online world was experienced by all and sundry across countries, cities both urban and semi urban. In India, thanks to the logistics infrastructure, the reach is estimated to be about 95% of the pincodes and the digital payments ecosystem bringing a lot of shoppers into the fold.

Shopper behaviour changed dramatically which felt almost overnight to be driven by essential purchases but was rubbing off on discretionary purchases as well. It is important to note the motivations behind shopping for these segments:

Non-discretionary or essential categories are close to survival – lesser new brand trials and more loyalty

Discretionary – Celebratory, Enhancing Social Identity, Defining their worth

Let’s check-in with Smita, a 32 year HR professional in Pune and an urban family of four based in Delhi with working spouses and teenage children and see how their Shopping formula changed upside down.

Pre-Covid Shopping formula was a carefully balanced mix of both flavours – Online and Offline with set tracks for almost every category:

Grocery: Monthly from Big Basket and things I need for today’s lunch from local Kirana wala

Fashion: Myntra for repeat purchases of familiar products like leggings, US Polo Tees, discovery of unique products which otherwise would need her to go through 20 stores on feet and tire her out

Date with Zara, H & M at least twice a year for the yummy sales loaded with the adrenaline rush of discounts and oodles of newness in the wardrobe.

Beauty: Lookup, get inspired online, experiment a little sometimes with buying instantly while at other times go to the beauty section at Shoppers Stop and swatch it before hitting ‘Buy’

Electronics: Learn about the products online but do go to a Croma to check out a demo piece

Mall Time: For the social experience of it, for the glitterati, fragrances and energy, to experience the city’s very own ramp where you check out what’s in-trend like IGTVs in the physical world. To interact with the floor assistants, see ‘Add to Carts’ of fellow shoppers in the real world.

Terms like Showrooming and Webrooming or ROPO – Research Online and Buy Online or Vice versa are real and make it very layered

Online Shopping Experience largely stood for product discovery, comfort and convenience and Offline Shopping Experience stood for a rich social and emotional experience.

Shopping Formula post covid:

From the carefully crafted online-offline mix with devised hacks, Shopping during the pandemic went online every day, multiple times a day from several apps. Apps which became as necessary on the Phone as the Speed dial list for close family.

While essential purchases are easy repeats, let’s look at what it entailed for discretionary purchases.

Statista says nearly 70% of shoppers read 1-6 reviews before making a purchase.

Shoppers browse 20+ products before making an online purchase. And if each product browsed meant scrolling through 5 Product images, that’s a tedious browsing of about 100 Images for 20 Products. Added to the fact that the medium will feel lonely and robotic, under time pressures, this could seem like a chore more than the power of the wand which makes everything accessible to you.

In the post pandemic world, a large tendency of ‘picking up the phone to order’ remains pushing the online purchases for discretionary categories as well. And the credit goes to the seamless unbroken experience displayed by the e-commerce platforms who rose to the occasion

Brands:

Let’s look at some key trends which emerged strongly.

D2C Brands: Google’s Year in Search Report 2021 highlighted a 533% rise in search interest for D2C Brands in 2020. Great news albeit translates into high competition.

Social Commerce: Product discovery through the modern-day billboards viz. Instagram, Fb, other content platforms inching to commerce with millions of influencers. In today’s world almost everyone is an influencer and can be bucketed into– nano, micro, macro, celebrity categories

According to Statisa, Social commerce attracted more than 50 PE/VC deals which will translate into more buzz for Shoppers. Social Commerce GMV was estimated to be around USD 1.5-2 Bn in FY 20 with a CAGR of 55-60%

Live Commerce: Incepted in China with Taobao in 2016 and in 6 years has grabbed a giant nearly 10% share of e-tailing market and a 3x rise in 2020 to about $170 Bn.

Brands can leverage the trends above to move shoppers in their funnel from awareness to conversion with least friction. E-commerce acceleration, rise in D2C Brands have translated into rising customer acquisition costs. It’s become a non-negotiable to meticulously juxtapose these channels to their marketing funnel to drive connection, community with shared values and trust. This will boost customer LTV and conversion rates.

Immersive technology becomes pertinent here.

Offline Shopping is the most immersive, with heightened application of all five senses on the physical plane and emotional energy with the community appeal.

Can Brands use technology to make Online shopping immersive and closer to offline experience than ever before?

Technology For Immersive Shopping

These are technologies that Brands can bet on to be ahead of the pack and garner shopper love.

Livestreaming: With 350-400 million video-watching user base in India alone and affordable access to the internet, live streaming will take away shopper time spent on TV or platforms with static content.

Live Shopping is a powerful interactive medium with a community experience rather than clinical. Shoppers see the product in action, have the power to participate and ask questions in real time. However, to execute this efficiently Brands need to go Live on the right platform where the user intent is centred around shopping rather than lazy content consumption. Blended with the right expertise on Live Selling this can result in conversions upto 30%.

Brands today have built distribution at a significant cost and effort but these followers are not engaged with the Brand optimally. Live Shopping can be a great solution.

3D, AR/VR: For easy visualization, product understanding on the digital medium virtual try-ons can become very popular. Walmart is using Augmented Reality for better inventory control. Lenskart is allowing users to try new frames virtually. Some of the other notable trials of this are Amazon Salon – try virtual hair colors before deciding on the one for you or Sephora which allows to try beauty products virtually.

Voice/Vernacular Search: Google India saw 270% increase in voice search as reported by Think with Google. Slang Labs is one of the Indian startups evangelizing this path. Voice assistant apps showcased a massive adoption with 5-6 million monthly active users as quoted by a bain report

NFTs, Metaverse and Digital-to-Avatar Brands:  Metaverse can enrich the customer’s shopping experience and make it more personalized, immersive, and real while sitting on their living room couches. Nike, Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger are some of the marquee brands leading this space.

Technology can only become powerful with the right application. Ultimately a seamless integration of these for the right stages of the Brand funnel will sublime a clear winner which the shoppers will surely reward and rejoice.

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