The digital disruption that E-commerce has brought about to retail, and shopping has been remarkable. It seems like a lifetime ago when people dismissed e-commerce as just “the new hip fad” and suggested that it would pass, sooner or later. Those people have had to eat their words, as e-commerce is slowly becoming the more preferred way of shopping.
Unlike a brick-and-mortar store, an e-commerce platform offers the ease of shopping, conservation of time and energy, and a broader array of products to choose from. And while brick-and-mortar store will never go out of business entirely, I believe they will go the cable TV way.
Cable TV consumption has declined steadily since streaming and video-on-demand made its way into the market. As more and more people migrate towards the latter, the only people who are using Cable TV are older folks and people who haven’t discovered the joy of services like Netflix and Hotstar. Soon enough, Cable TV consumption will be limited to those watching news or sports, and at public locations like airports, railway stations, bus stands, hospitals, etc. Brick-and-mortar stores seem to be heading that way, wherein their usage is limited to necessity and urgency.
When we discuss e-commerce, our first thought usually involves clothes, groceries and electronics. Yes, the retail aspect of e-commerce enjoys the most audience but as time has progressed, other sections of trade and commerce are playing catch-up to grab a slice of the pie. Among them, are software vendors who are getting more business from being listed on an online marketplace than being confined to the local brick-and-mortar setup.
The Challenge that Tier II & III Software Vendors Face When Selling Software
Buying a software is quite like shopping for a mobile phone. Not every phone you come across will attract your attention. Of the ones you like, you spend some time deciding on which looks and feels better. Additionally, hardware and software preferences, budget, your preferences (colour, material of the body, texture, etc) play a vital role in making a choice. It must be customised to your likes and preferences, for you to buy it.
When choosing a software solution, customers apply the same principles. Any solution must be customised to a customer’s requirements. A company with 50 employees would have different requirements from a payroll solution than a company with 1000+ employees.
Historically, it has been challenging for software vendors from tier II and III cities to address this need. Convincing a client located in a metropolitan city, over email and calls is a lot tougher than solving their queries, in person. For vendors located in tier I cities (Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai), it’s still possible to set up a meeting with a customer from their regional office. As most organisations tend to have an office in tier I cities, software vendors from these locations have an easier time closing deal.
However, vendors located in tier II and III cities do not enjoy this privilege. Geographical and operational limitations limit their ability to reach out to a wider customer pool. And it isn’t feasible for them to deploy a team to a tier I city, every time a potential client asks for a meeting or clarification in person. That is where e-commerce comes into play.
How E-Commerce has Helped Software Vendors from Tier II&III Cities
An e-commerce platform allows vendors to have a more extensive presence, not limited by geography. A software company from Vishakhapatnam can sell its products with ease to a customer in Delhi or Dubai, with absolute ease, using an e-commerce platform.
E-commerce fits well because of the operational ease that it provides to software vendors from tier II and III cities. At Techjockey, we have thousands of products listed from vendors based in tier II and III cities. Let’s say a customer reaches out to us, enquiring about a specific product. All their queries and problems are handled by our sales experts who are well-versed with the products. Consequently, the need for a vendor to engage with a customer during the sales process is eliminated and they can instead focus on customising products and improving their after-sales support.
One of our vendors (from a tier II city) provides a robust petrol pump management software. Ever since they tied up with us, the demand of their software has shot up, and today, it’s one of our most asked-about solutions. No one could predict the unprecedented demand for such a niche solution. It just proved that there’s a market for everything and with the right e-commerce platform, a vendor doesn’t have to worry about reachability, as long as the product is good.
E-commerce reduces the operational cost incurred by software vendors, by providing them with a unified platform to market and sell their products. By significantly reducing the cost and effort of field sales, e-commerce allows software vendors to use that revenue in R&D.
Like it or not, but e-commerce is the future. It’s reach, popularity and accessibility, is unparalleled. For the first time, it has opened the market and created a fair playing field for software vendors, especially those from tier II & III cities. How such vendors use such a platform to leverage themselves, is up to them. After all, it’s about the survival of the fittest.