E-Commerce in India – Past, Present & Future

There is no denying the fact that e-commerce has re-entered India and is here to stay. Even the small and medium retailers of the country want to ride the wave and are ready to make a fortune out of the market place concept. It may be now that online shopping has become popular but the concept of e-Commerce was introduced long back in the 20th century.

Circa 1991: Introduction of E-Commerce

The year 1991 noted a new chapter in the history of the online world where e-commerce became a hot choice amongst the commercial use of the internet. At that time nobody would have even thought that the buying and selling online or say the online trading will become a trend in the world and India will also share a good proportion of this success.

Circa 2002: IRCTC teaches India to Book ticket online

India first came into interaction with the online E-Commerce via the IRCTC. The government of India experimented this online strategy to make it convenient for its public to book the train tickets. Hence, the government came forward with the IRCTC Online Passenger Reservation System, which for the first time encountered the online ticket booking from anywhere at any time. This was a boon to the common man as now they don’t have to wait for long in line, no issues for wastage of time during unavailability of the trains, no burden on the ticket bookers and many more. The advancements in the technology as the years passed on have been also seen in the IRCTC Online system as now one can book tickets (tatkal, normal, etc.) on one go, easy payments, can check the status of the ticket and availability of the train as well. This is a big achievement in the history of India in the field of online E-Commerce.


IRCTC Website in August 2002

Circa 2003: Introduction of Low Cost Airline with AirDeccan

After the unpredicted success of the IRCTC, the online ticket booking system was followed by the airlines (like AirDeccan, Indian Airlines, Spicejet, etc.). Airline agency encouraged, web booking to save the commission given to agents and thus in a way made a major population of the country to try E-Commerce for the first time. Today, the booking system is not just limited to the transportation rather hotel bookings, bus booking etc. are being done using the websites like Makemytrip and Yatra.

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Circa 2007: The Deep Discounted model of Flipkart

The acceptance of the ecommerce on a large scale by the Indian people influenced other business players also to try this technique for their E-businesses and gain high profits. Though online shopping has been present since the 2000 but it gained popularity only with deep discount model of Flipkart. In a way it re-launched online shopping in India.  Soon other portals like Amazon, Flipkart, Jabong, etc. started hunting India for their businesses.


Circa 2014: Current Scenario

Online shopping in its early stage was a simple medium for shopping with fewer options. The users can just place an order and pay cash on delivery. But, in last few years this field has been renovated to a high extent and hence fascinated many customers. Today, the online shopping has become a trend in India and the reason behind the adoption of this technique lies in the attractive online websites, user friendly interface, bulky online stores with new fashion, easy payment methods (i.e. secure pay online via gateways like paypal or cash-on-delivery), no bound on quantity & quality, one can choose the items based on size, color, price, etc.

Despite being a developing country, India has shown a commendable increase in the ecommerce industry in the last couple of years, thereby hitting the market with a boom. Though the Indian online market is far behind the US and the UK, it has been growing at a fast page.

Further, the addition of discounts, coupons, offers, referral systems, 30days return guarantee, 1-7 days delivery time, etc. to the online shopping and the E-Market have added new flavors to the industry.

The Key drivers of in Indian ecommerce have been:

  • Increasing broadband Internet and 3G penetration.
  • Growing Living standards
  • Availability of much wider product range
  • Busy lifestyles and lack of time for offline shopping
  • Increased usage of online categorized sites
  • Evolution of the online marketplace model with websites like eBay, Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc.

The Way Forward:

Social Media as a Lead Generation tool

Social media has now become the hub for the merchants which enables them to analyze the customer choice based on their purchase activities. Social network like LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and others have become a medium for easy log-in and purchase. Moreover, the clients can stay updated via the posts published on this media. Further, the advertising & promotions on these social sites has increased the chances of success of generating transactions to many folds.

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Mobile Commerce:

The latest trend in e-commerce it to focus on mobile based shopping. Snapdeal now getting half of its traffic from mobile, up from 5% around a year back and flipkart gets 40% traffic from mobile up from 15%. As price of smart phone reduce, these figures will only increase. For this reason, the larger ecommerce firm has started focusing on mobile commerce. It is speculated that the next wave of digital commerce consumer will come thru the mobile.

Price comparison engine:

In the race to acquire customer, e-commerce sites offer deep discount and these discount vary from site to site depending upon its capacity to negotiate with the supplier. To get the best discounts, buyer need to search a plethora of sites. Here, Price comparison sites come in like mysmartprice.comPricedekho.com, freekamal.com and Junglee, etc. . The website compare prices over the entire web and provide users with the best available price. E-Commerce sale through these website are increasing and will further increase as consumers get more and more discount savvy.

Online Grocery Store:

Online grocery stores are gaining popularity in India due to absolute convenience, ease of shopping and a fast-growing market. Punexpress.com, Milestore.com, Atadaal.com have already entered the market and are gaining popularity. They provide discounted product and free home delivery. All of these stores are targeting the Indian housewife, who are yet to move to e-commerce way of shopping.

Innovation in logistics:

The addition of the new concept in the ecommerce industry had been recently observed when Amazon patented its new delivery model called the Prime Air which is expected to be launched in the upcoming years. This model will use the highly technically embedded drones or helicopters for the instant delivery of the items. These will be programmed in such a way that using a GPS system they will identify the exact address for delivery and drop the item right in front of the doors of the customers. These aerial vehicles will prioritize the public safety and are designed as per the commercial aviation standards.

About the Author: Ankit Dudhewala is the Co-Founder at SoftwareSuggest.com, a business software discovery platform made for Indian companies. He is a marketer by passion and a salesman by heart.


    But I am sure about future of small player like Infibeam, Buyonkart and Shopclue.

  • Jeetendra

    You missed baazee.com which was acquired by eBay.