There is a need for the booming growth of Village e-commerce. The rural Indian market ensures untapped potential to become the market leader for most e-commerce business enthusiasts and budding entrepreneurs. Since independence, nothing has happened in terms of boosting the rural distribution of commercial products within India's geographical boundaries. Therefore, the urgent need of the minute is to accelerate the expansion of commercial enterprises and e-commerce businesses in rural areas
India has emerged as one of the diverse countries worldwide, and more than 70% of India's population abides in villages or rural parts of India. The primary source of earning for people residing in rural areas is agro-based products as well as the regular crops produced by these village people only. Since independence, the agro-based sector in India has gained momentum in terms of growth. It contributes half of the country's overall economy, and a significant bunch of population generates their livelihood from the agro-based sector. It's a daunting reality that India hasn't witnessed the growth and rapid development in the agribusiness and agriculture sector as most of the people surviving in rural areas have got marginal land with them. After all, they are not much familiar with modern farming methods and techniques. In addition to this, they don't have adequate facilities in order to utilize it in full capacity.
Exploring agricultural potential is a crucial factor that stimulates economic growth and can eventually lead to the development of an agro-based economy. The leading development powerhouse is the expansion of the agri-based sector, which is the dominant source of growth that took place in recent times. As per IAMAI, India stands at second rank in terms of no. of internet users at 451 million active users of the internet. This number encompasses urban as well as rural areas. With various government initiatives concerning the broader picture of digital villages where maximum people will be able to enjoy internet facilities, there is a substantial rise in the number of internet users.
E-commerce in rural India is on the rise as the trend of online shopping has become the trend in the last few years. Most people are inclined to purchase various forms of communities and take advantage of different services via online platforms. This practice is not restricted to urban areas but has also come into practice in full swing in India's rural parts. In rural areas of India, there is a high penetration of internet and mobile-friendly individuals. The Indian government is leaving no stone unturned in establishing the connection between all the villages and small towns through optical fiber by keeping its eyes on making India digital on a massive scale. In this regard, the objective of the Indian government is to provide citizens living in villages or rural parts of India the benefits of online services.
Going by the track record of sales in the last few years, the growth of e-commerce has been unbelievably phenomenal. In 2018, the overall sale via e-commerce as a medium was around 38.4 USD. All the retailers should look for taking their products on online platforms as online presence is crucial for the business's prosperous ride.
In recent years, the nation had beheld a significant turnaround concerning the flapping of wings by big e-commerce players like Flipkart, Amazon, etc. in villages or rural areas. The yearning shift in the lifestyle of individuals living in rural parts of India became a possibility. Without making much effort, they will be getting all brands available at a single store.
The big question here that sellers in this realm come across is whether e-commerce is only a revolution in urban India or has immense scope in the rural areas.
First, you need to understand the challenges and hindrances that may affect their outreach in rural areas.
Despite these limits, e-commerce sellers and brands are ardent in examining the opportunities with this part. Moving further, we must note down the impact of e-commerce website development in India's rural parts. Recently, technology has met the rural parts efficiently and has transformed the prevailing thinking that e-commerce companies may not enter India's rural region.
In various sectors of rural India, e-commerce has a pivotal role to play. It is uplifting the way of living of people belonging to rural backgrounds and bringing transformative changes in the thought process and old beliefs as well.
Since most of the people residing in rural India are getting a wide range of household products at their doorstep, there is a substantial shift in people's lifestyles. E-commerce giant Amazon is piloting mass distribution in the rural market for benefitting the small-town customers. The data shows that Amazon had covered about 90% of villages for delivery. The order from small towns and rural India can no longer be disregarded as increasing smartphone penetration, and ambition levels lead to a wave in online buying. For Indian e-commerce companies clasped in a battle for supremacy, the rural consumer's struggle has just begun. The return process in rural areas or villages is less compared to urban areas, so the logistic cost for e-commerce companies is less for a rural area than in urban areas.
It has been observed that in rural India, handicrafts business has become the source of income for many rural people. A notable chunk of the population, especially women, produces various types of handicrafts by utilizing various kinds of agro-based materials and giving way to a source of income for them. Nowadays, these handicraft items and products are also getting available on online platforms and creating a mass customer base for the people living in rural regions and people from marginalized communities. The penetration is not high, but it seems to increase in the years to come. Marginalized communities would get the opportunity to give the much-needed promotional boost to their intangible cultural heritage. They will be getting equitable opportunities to showcase their prowess amongst all the communities. Village E-commerce has opened the doors for seamless access to consumer goods. It has eventually created opportunities for inclusive growth as manufacturers of all scale living in any part of the world can now bring their products in front of the world as a whole through online platforms. Today, e-commerce is the most persuasive medium backing the handicraft market.
Well-known e-commerce players such as Indian Roots, Craftsvilla, CraftedIndia, and Engrave are striving hard in the direction of empowering the artisans by creating market linkages with customers willing to pay higher prices without a second thought.
There is a considerable change in rural business style, and a significant difference is visible due to the increasing online presence of agricultural products. In recent times, seeds of various types of crops, fertilizers, along with various other products are available online and have simplified the things for people living in rural regions and farmers in India.
Inefficient and Incompetent Internet Services
Due to inefficient and incompetent internet services in most rural regions within India's geographical boundaries, e-commerce businesses in rural areas can't operate in a smooth manner. On a broader note, only 18% of the population dwelling in a rural region has access to the internet connection, which has become a major challenge for the e-commerce business and is affecting its survival in rural areas. Although the percentage figure mentioned before will witness a rise in the years to come, it is a challenge to deal with in the current time.
Lack of Trust
It's a fact that a principal chunk of people dwelling in India's rural segments feels difficult to bank upon the products sold online as they fear that products may get damaged or pilferage, trouble while returning the product, and various other forms of issues. Therefore, all the companies need to create a trust base before fixing their roots in rural regions or villages of India.
Poor Transport Infrastructure and Connectivity Issue
Another significant & more arduous challenge is the poor transport infrastructure in most rural sections of the nation. Products dispensed in urban areas in a few days take weeks’ time to reach a rural address (and that too only if delivery is rendered in the given space in the first spot).
Nevertheless, on the shiny side, e-commerce companies steadily understand rural India demographics. They collude with Indian government & local communities to grasp this immensely potential but underserved market share.
Currency challenge is one of the major spheres of challenge that is faced by most of the village e-commerce businesses operating in the boundaries of India. Various countries have different export along with import specifications. Thus, issues with respect to credit card limits and currency exchange rates play a negative part in the eCommerce business, thereby controlling the smoothness in the overall e-commerce shopping.
Now, e-commerce site development is done in such a tone that it can receive diverse payment options, which makes it more straightforward for customers.
Methods of Payment
Cash on delivery method is not available in every village, so we have to build awareness of online transactions as this will also have trust matters concerning making money transactions online.
Lack of Awareness
In rural parts of India, many people are not aware of the process of online purchase, which also makes a challenge for the business. Thus, there should be a process for awareness for the purchase of online products.
Personalization is a Challenge
It is unquestionably one of the most pressing challenges for the suppliers when it comes to e-commerce business in the nation and its tense competition with the retail stores. In a developing country like India, many people still favor retail stores where they can physically verify the products before purchasing. On the other hand, the retail stores present a special touch, which is considered finicky to replace with online selling.
Hindrise Social Welfare Foundation is joining hands with various traditional channels like existing e-commerce companies and emerging e-commerce firms to increase the accessibility of facilities concerning e-commerce in rural India and spread the vibes of awareness among rural people by conducting various programs. Being an NGO for social welfare in India, Hindrise Foundation, in association with e-commerce companies, is catering to rural people's aspirations. We believe that village e-commerce has more relevance than urban regions of India. A few years ago, it was a white space, but in recent times, a lot more has been done for boosting the wave of e-commerce in rural India.