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e-Commerce in India- What are Challenges of Selling in Semi-Urban and Rural Areas

10 February, 2017


Find out the Challenges of Selling Online in Far Flung regions of India.



Brands have been eyeing semi-urban and rural India and many have successfully reached out as well. 

Since the commence of Industrialisation, India has seen a lot of development in its semi-urban and rural belts to the extent that the cities are expanding and villages are shrinking. India which was once referred to have been a rural habitat has completely transformed and transcend beyond the villages.

Challenges of Selling in Rural India

Challenges of Selling Online in Rural India for Ecommerce Sellers and Online Store Owners:



With companies like HUL which penetrated semi-urban and rural markets by starting to sell sachets of products like shampoo, detergents to present day brands selling products like hair gel also in sachets which has successfully been marketed and bought in even rural India.

The scope for e-commerce in semi urban and rural India is high if we look back at the previous trends and understand the market.

In this article, we will try to dissect the pitfalls of selling in semi urban and rural India.



a. Low Internet Penetration



Smart phones and Internet user base is ever rising in India and we have been claiming a whole lot of penetration in rural India as well while it is a fact but the truth has another face as well. With the increasing population of the country the mobile and internet users have increased and while the numbers might sound staggering the fact remains that still it has not penetrated well in rural India.

Many parts of India are still untouched with mobile and internet revolution and they are not even using mobiles and internet for basic usage leave alone things like online shopping.




b. COD a Necessary Evil



It seems that cash on delivery has become the only mode of payment in India.

While the urban and to some extent semi-urban markets which has plastic money with their shoppers but e-commerce companies have  not been able to bring shoppers on absolutely online payment mode.

The cash on delivery is the only option left in rural India. With more cash on deliveries more return and cancellations will keep hurting the back of e-commerce players.

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c. Less Awareness




People in rural Indian markets are less aware of products and shopping online. Many do not even know about something like this is happening in other parts of India.

With no awareness of online shopping it first becomes necessary to make them aware of shopping online and its benefits.





d. More Acquisition Cost



With no awareness and low internet penetration, the cost of acquisition in rural market is bound to remain high.

Rural consumers are also not aware of different products ad their usage in their daily lives as they do not have much access to the online world and television also many times. So this is also a challenge as they first need to be informed about all the products which online shopping sites are selling.




e. Lack of Physical Connectivity



Howsoever big is our train and road network the mightier is the terrain of India.

Our rural India is still not connected with basic roads and transportation facilities which creates a major challenge in shipping and logistics.

Leave alone rural even the semi-urban e-commerce market is struggling with shipping and transportation in India.



f. Habit of Conventional Shopping



Semi urban and rural India and even to some extent urban India is addicted to the conventional shopping methods and the habit dies hard way.

They get more pleasure out of shopping while they can feel and touch the products physically and carry it with them as soon as they but them.

People are also too peculiar about what they are buying and how much they save while they negotiate buying physically.



g. Language Barrier



India is a nation of diversity. With every few hundred kilometers language changes. With every few hundred kilometers the culture and tradition of people changes.

English does not seems to work as a universal language in India and not even Hindi.

The locals need to be communicated in their own language to make then even listen to all this online shopping thing at the very first place and then everything further has to be in their local language and managing such a vast terrain in their regional dialects is a big task and challenge in front of e-commerce players.




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