Just as the financial year drew to a close, The Investment Consultant sent me a few forms that I had to sign and send back for investing in some mutual funds. I added digital signatures to the PDFs and emailed them right back. A week later, an associate at the firm called me up on a Saturday afternoon and asked very haughtily “Isn’t it obvious to you that you need to print the forms and courier them?”
A week ago I walked into InMark to see for myself the low-cost clothing store that everyone’s talking about. The salespeople were standing around, uninterested in helping me find the sizes/colors I wanted. The cashier wanted to collect customer data before even beginning the billing. “Name, Mobile number, Address, Age?” she rattled off. All this at the cost of delaying the entire transaction. A queue was forming behind me and no one had the patience.
Yesterday, Mom and I walked into Big Bazaar after casting our vote. We were looking for basil seeds. We asked yet another uninterested salesperson if she knew where we could find them. She mumbled something we couldn’t hear. Could you repeat what you just said, we requested. “Near the cash counter” she yelled back.
Amazon put the bookstores and the Best Buys out of business, Netflix displaced the Blockbusters of the world. There is always going to be space for yet another Flipkart, Big Basket and My Universe to disrupt any of these businesses that choose to ignore the growing (and gnawing) presence of the internet, its things and the potential of it all. How costly will this ignorance and reluctance to embrace disruptive technology prove?
These are businesses so caught up in their worlds (of arrogance or ignorance, I don’t know) that they can’t see disruption waiting to happen at their doorstep.
The InMarks, Big Bazaars and small business Investment Consultants of the world think the inconvenience and unfamiliarity of the “online world” is their competitive advantage, forget that their self-inflated idea of not wanting to alienate customers is at odds with a shrinking userbase that wants to focus more on efficiency, and sometimes bet their core businesses on ambitious taglines like “everything under one roof.’
1. People don’t want to pay for things that don’t matter
The location of a store, the size of a physical store, the placement of items in the aisle, the couldn’t-care-less salespeople, the endless queues for checking out. Most consumer behaviour experts would say all of these drive sales in an offline store. In a flat disruptive technology-driven world where items are searchable by keywords and checkouts can be timed in seconds, these are needless hurdles that come at a cost and don’t matter.
Remove whatever doesn’t matter to a user and what’s left is an opportunity to improve the core product or service.
2. Users and Producers want efficiency and convenience. Cost-effectiveness is the cherry on the cake.
Flipkart, Uber, Etsy or ClearTrip are innovative in that, that their focus is the efficiency and convenience they deliver on both the supply and demand side.
For the end consumer, it’s two clicks or taps of a button to buy a dress, hail a cab, book a flight, or even order custom-made cakes and quiches. That the entire process is cost-effective is just one of the cherries on the cake. It comes with the bells and whistles of ratings, reviews, offers and discounts that further sweeten the deal.
At the same time, the producers/service providers are finding technology enables them to provide their services and products to customers at a scale they haven’t seen before, whilst maintaining high levels of efficiency. This means greater productivity and generally it comes tied-in with growth.
While competition might drive down prices (think cost of books on Amazon vs Flipkart), the possibilities for consumption increase and this impacts consumption and production patterns itself. Fashion based e-commerce ventures in India increased in the last couple of years but so did the number of people shopping online and the frequency of their shopping. 
As it is often said, If something is good, people want more of it.
3. The something good that is usually a good experience.
People will pay for what matters and usually it’s a combination of convenience, efficiency and ease coming together so elegantly that it all seems so effortless. Also known as The Experience.
Experience isn’t about a single process (one-step checkout) or a shiny big green button (Remember Myntra’s A/B testing of the Add to Cart button, now with a shopping bag icon and now with a plus-symbol?) or moving cars on a map or a 40% off discount coupon - it’s about simplifying everything to help the user achieve her end objective. So much so that it becomes a product hook in itself. (How to Create Habits 101!)
When talking about building products that customers will pay for, Kapil always refers to the initial days of Zivame. Customers from far-flung corners of India paid both for shipping (Rs 50) and for credit card transactions (Rs 50), in addition to the costs of the items they were ordering. This was unheard of in early 2011, the early days of the eComm boom in India.
Figure out what matters, make it better and it could very well be the magic pixie dust the product or service needs to make it to the A-league.
Then when the product’s made it to the A-league, rinse - repeat. Sometimes there’s no telling what disruption looks like.
 Mobile Users, Women Shoppers Fuel India’s E-Commerce Boom
The fashion e-commerce sector in India nearly doubled in value from $278 million in 2012 to $559 million in 2013.