Of course, the new age informed consumer looks for a great deal, but he also looks for great quality and service experience. That doesn’t make him the bounty hunter experts will have you believe. Here are three examples of why the Indian consumer is actually very discerning (and what you can do about it):
He already knows more about your product than you do: 36% of Indian customers online conduct extensive research before making a purchase. In fact, BCG research estimates that for every one person who researches and buys online, there are ﬁve who research about products online and then make a purchase oﬄine.
You don’t hear the words ROBO (Research Online Buy Oﬄine) shopper too oﬅen in India, but you should—consumers in India put in a lot of hours researching online for products they are about to buy oﬄine. Companies are fast embracing omni-channel retailing in an eﬀort to provide the same kind of experience regardless of the channel. That said, we’re still a good few years away from any reasonable signs of success on omni-channel retailing.
While the country is coming up to speed on that, make sure you put in more eﬀort into your products that your customers. If you’re selling something online, make sure the information is enough (and accurate) to drive a purchase decision. If you’re selling a Rs 40,000 mobile phone in your store, make sure your staﬀ is equipped to answer customer questions. The same applies to your oﬄine store, nothing makes your brand look dumber than a store associate that’s trying to hard-sell a product without knowing what he’s selling.
He’s not looking for handouts: The same BCG research also mentions that 37% of people prefer online shopping for the convenience. In comparison, only 30% are looking for cheaper prices.
You don’t need to be the cheapest place to shop. Indian consumers look for a good “deal”—and deal is not always about cheap prices: 6% of customers that buy unboxed and refurbished devices on Overcart earn more than 26L/ yr. The Indian consumer looks for a combination of quality, price, and peace of mind. Don’t know what peace of mind is? Ask the guy who got a brick in his package.
It is essential to be upfront with the customer on what to expect and what the beneﬁt of buying from you is. Will you deliver faster? Will you provide a better price? Do you have an easy returns process? The popularity of Olx and Quikr shows that Indian buyers will choose refurbished and second-hand products as long as he believes that the product is the right combination of price, quality, and peace of mind. Peace of mind may come through a direct interaction with the buyer (as in the case of Olx) or through a consumer brand oﬀering a returns guarantee (as in the case of Overcart).
He’s got inﬂuence: An avid shopper wields great power through his power of inﬂuence. Parents take his advice on what car to buy and friends ask which gizmo to invest in. The power of word-of-mouth extends beyond the major cities—6% of purchases in Tier II and III cities were inﬂuenced by the local shopkeeper, 1% by the local sarpanch!
Harness this inﬂuence. Companies like Xiaomi and One-Plus have taken fandom to a whole new level, by making their products more than just mobile phones. Know your customers and help them spread the good word. At the same time, make sure to listen to and address customer pain points. Every customer is an ambassador of goodwill for your company… as long as you get it right!