Get ready to up your game
We always had numbers screaming on top of their voice – Indian eCommerce will touch $200 billion by 2026 and it will overtake the U.S as the second largest eCommerce market in the world by 2034. However, it takes more than just numbers to wake up to realities. Isn’t it?
Human beings tend to procrastinate. That’s even truer for the Indian retailers who are so used to selling offline in a touch and feel set up. Earning enough to feed five generations, they had no inch to try eCommerce.
Covid-19 forced these businesses to go online
- Amazon saw a sales surge as high as 26% garnering $75.5 billion in the first quarter itself.
- Amazon India confirmed that they saw a 50% increase in seller registrations after the lockdown in India.
- ‘Sell on Amazon’ was a trending keyword on search engines.
- Not just Amazon, the eCommerce industry boomed across the globe.
If you joined the bandwagon, welcome to the online eCommerce world. Just one word of caution – there is no red carpet. You are directly stepping into a competitive market with swords drawn out. So be sure, going online is only half the battle won. There is plenty of work to do.
Before we get to the disruption which will decide who wins and who loses, let us first confirm that you can tick mark all of these.
- You are starting with a marketplace to test the waters first
- You are simultaneously creating your own turf with your very own eCommerce site
- You know you have to market, market, market. The products don’t sell themselves.
- You have set the backend on autopilot so inventory to shipping gets taken care of by machines
Oh good, you are the evolved retailer. Few years back these things were barriers in a way.
a) Who is going to match the online inventory to the actuals?
b) Who will put the site together?
c) Who will manage the shipping? And then boom!
The questions have been put to an end.
- Logistics barriers are down – You don’t have to worry about shipping. If you go for drop shipping, the supplier sends products directly. If you go for marketplaces, they can warehouse your products and ship for you. If you ship directly, logistics partners will set up a workflow for you. Choose any method – it’s easy.
- Payment barriers are down – All you need is a PayPal or any other provider’s business account linked to your backend. It will allow you to accept debit purchases, credit purchases, bank transfer – you name it. So you don’t have to tie-up within individual banks or credit card providers.
- Technology barriers are down – Putting up a site is as simple as modifying a template and integrating with a platform like Shopify. The best UI/UX practices on your storefront are automatically applied. You get a fully integrated platform so your store goes live within hours.
That is good news and bad news. Remember – the barriers are not down just for you. They are down for everyone. That straight away means more competition. The more generic your product, the higher you will feel the heat of competition.
What are the next big questions waiting to be answered then?
- How do I make sure that the customer clicks on my product and not that of competition?
- How do I woo the customer who has already clicked on my store?
- How do I minimize the bounce rate?
- How do I ensure that the customer comes straight to my shop next time he has a need?
- How do I move from generic to being branded?
- How do I eliminate competition?
What do you think is the answer? The verdict is out
Images play an important role and they cannot be ignored. In fact, they play multiple roles.
- They act as differentiators.
- They elevate trust
- They build your brand imagery
- They help you command a better price
Now let’s get to the target audience. The consumers have limited time and so much to browse. How do you think they are doing it?
- They are skimming – Browsing real fast while assimilating as much information as possible
- They are trusting their instincts – They stop scrolling past, when they ‘feel’ it is the right kind of professional shop they are looking for
- They are using the rule of elimination to make a choice – They reject stores with bad visuals or poor images right away. They feel that is the best way to safeguard against potential frauds
The point is – you have to adapt to this consumer psychology. Make it easy for the customer. Right away project trust and professionalism by being visually attractive and relevant. So we agree that visual content is the next big game changer. Why are retailers not getting it right?
- They are doing all photography and video editing all by themselves. Nothing wrong with that if they have a sense of aesthetics and have invested in learning these skills.
- They are working on trial and error. They look for professional help only when things get out of hand and the shop is tanking.
- They know visuals are important but they are low on budget to hire professional help.
That brings us to the next big disruption – eCommerce image creation as a service.
What if the retailer had a service that took care of his budget and ensured that the visuals flowed to him in a seamless workflow – almost like autopilot? He wouldn’t suffer from any of the barriers we mentioned earlier. It is difficult to imagine that a labor intensive professional photography and editing service can be simplified to a level where the power is in the hands of the retailer and yet the quality is not compromised.
That’s where a few things need to come together:
- Democratizing this technical yet essential service – It needs to become accessible to everyone. The barriers of cost and accessibility have to be dropped. Why should only the large brands have great visuals? There is an entrepreneur at every nook and each one of them needs to be empowered.
- Versatility of image creation as a service – The system will fail big time if it provides images only for a specific platform or screen. The retailers should be able to get adaptations for every possible screen size and every marketplace they are on.
- Usage of AI & other technology – The retailer should not be expected to become a professional photographer. While the retailer plays a part, AI should enhance the output to professional levels. AI should guide and simplify the process, just like a professional photographer would.
- Having a process workflow – New products get added to stores all the time. The entire process – from clicking to uploading has to happen seamlessly. The retailer won’t adopt a service that is painful to follow up or track.
Thankfully these things have already come together to disrupt the eCommerce space.
How will ‘Image creation as a service’ help?
- It will help startups, SMEs and small retailers battle it out on competitive marketplaces with a fair chance to win.
- It will shorten their time to market. New SKU? It can go live within hours with professional pictures.
- It will make the process cheaper than traditional professional services. With no major set up cost or hassle of shipping products, the customer will get professional shots.
We feel that visual content is a big barrier, after logistics and payment processes in eCommerce. And it is coming down now with AI-based innovations. Startups need to come on board.
Let’s sum this up.
Remember – once you go online, the race begins. The race to maximum reviews in the shortest possible time. The race to break-even. The clock starts ticking. If you are still in the trial and error mode, you are losing precious time. The frustration sets in when the products have no takers. Desperate enough one tries online advertising and burns more money. The results don’t improve if the visuals of your store are bad. Take it from us.
So save yourself the trouble of going through these lessons. Be an early adopter and enter the battle field fully armed with great visual content.
Time to flirt with eCommerce is gone. It demands commitment. Put in the resources and tools to up your visual game.
The eCommerce industry is at the verge of disruption. eCommerce image creation as a service is bringing the cost and accessibility barriers down. Watch out for this next big trend and be a part of it.