An Overdose of e-Commerce Shopping – Who is Winning the Game?

Covid-19 has made us realize the importance of technology and its role in the entire ecosystem of business and trade. The hard-core manufacturing industries such as automobiles are exploring avenues in technology advancement for their growth plans for times to come. eCommerce, the hottest segment of the digital commerce world suddenly saw an uptick of 8-9% in retail sales penetration in the United States of America from 14% to ~22% in just 2 months of period (April-May 2020), a long uphill task of 10 years made possible in just two months and that’s where we see Jeff Bezos topping the charts of World’s richest with an almost 1.8-2.0x of difference from No.2.

Returning to the B2C world of e-Commerce where you and I have been a significant contributor to this ecosystem. The sales of Amazon, Flipkart, and likes are soaring with far more profound entrance originating from tier II and below in India – A ride to remember for the e-commerce industry. Covid-19 did accelerate the growth of this industry and more importantly changed the buying habits of the consumers by giving them a gala experience at their platform with their world-class service – wider assortments, pricing, and super quick last-mile delivery – Just World Class! On the other side of the spectrum, the brick and mortar model is bleeding with bankruptcies. Recently, we saw India’s biggest retailer (Future Group) with almost 20% of organized retail market share going belly up and later being absorbed by Uncle Sam – Mr. Ambani.

Enormous Big Billion Sale, the ‘Shopping Mela’ for Indian consumers has created a buzz that we haven’t heard before and people are getting mad without realizing that the amount after discount will still need to be spent from their savings and there is no fiscal stimulus package to be provided. Do we need ALL that we are ordering or is it the discount that is pushing us for that extra spend? Think about it with a cup of coffee.

As a prudent finance person what matters (leaving aside thousands of other factors and variables) is the savings rate that you maintain which is a function of maintaining a moderately frugal lifestyle with strict control over your spending (especially extra spending). Your support to this spending overdose is certainly serving the GDP of the country (might also help in faster recovery from the current economic shock) but limiting the consolidation of Capital in the hands of a few. Another proof of the pudding is the recent inflow of foreign capital by the e-commerce giants in the Indian markets to play their favorite game of Scale! Chinese did not allow, thanks to their government to empower Alibaba and local platforms. This is precisely the reason for massive wealth creation in the Chinese economy as the foreign e-commerce/technology platform (Facebook, Google, etc.) have limited access to the Chinese consumer.

These are tough times, jobs are scarce, SME/MSME businesses are bleeding, industries based on discretionary spending are badly hurt and many have seen the exit door permanently. So please keep a tight watch on your Savings – Build a War chest for the future.

Providing fiscal stimulus to give a push to the economy is the job of the government and not yours. So just give some peace to your shoulders and focus on the savings rate.

Have a great week ahead!

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