2018 has been a great year for eCommerce in India. The market leader has seen a phenomenal exit, and at the marketplace level, it is a battle between old American foes.

Brands have seen significant growth on the share of eCommerce as a percent of overall revenue.

Xiaomi has shown through www.mi.com that you can reach the online consumer directly and build a sustainable channel for yourself. The coming year will see significant revenues being driven directly from the brand website for both existing and new-age brands.

Here are my 5 key takeaways from 2018

1. Brands that leverage their online presence for ecommerce see better engagement and growth in sales

Until recently, the work we did was often kept away from the key brand identity and hidden under a store, or a shop subdomain. But after the growth of Xiaomi, brands are weaving commerce into their online identity. Consumers have come to expect brands to be available through their own stores. And brands that respond to this are seeing not only increased sales but also improved brand engagement.

2. Facebook (and Instagram) is a huge driver of sales for new brands

One of the first apps new smartphone users are downloading and actively using is Facebook. Instagram in urban populations is being used more than Facebook. Both these channels are excellent to drive sales for new brands. By using smart creatives that portray the value of the product, you can drive significant conversions. For several brands, the cost of acquisition through FB/Insta has been 75% lower than Google.

3. Digital Marketing is a huge driver of growth in non-retail sectors as well such as healthcare and real estate

Shoptimize has traditionally worked with eCommerce focused companies. But we have seen a lot of interest from other sectors as well. The few pilots we drove in 2018 have resulted in us believing that you can drive growth with a closely coupled online acquisition and in-person conversion model as well. Very often, marketeers have been focused up to the lead stage and were not able to factor in actual conversion data into their campaigns. By going the extra mile, you can significantly control CAC and drive growth in non-traditional markets like healthcare, real estate and auto.

4. Ideal shipping fee to charge – Rs. 79/-

As long as the shipping rate is Rs. 79/- or below and there is away to get free shipping (higher order values or memberships) customers are willing to pay for shipping. We saw no drop in conversion ratios, much to our surprise, when we introduced these fees. If the number goes into 3 digits, there is a drop in conversion ratios by about 30%.

5. Loyalty and Membership programs reduce CAC by 30%

After the first acquisition, which is often competitive, brands need to engage loyal customers in a long term relationship. Brands that manage to do that drop their acquisition costs by about 30% over a 6 month period. This is a significant impact on unit economics and frees up funds to go after a wider customer base which is not familiar with the brand.

Based on our learnings over the year, we are in the process of building a 4 stage process to growing brand eCommerce. Do look out for our blog on what is expected this new year 😊 Happy and prosperous new year to all of you. Here’s to a fantastic 2019!