David Cameron was in India this week, championing his desire for Britain to become India's “partner of choice”. The reason is obvious. India is on the verge of an economic boom, providing British businesses with a brand new market and trading partner.
Here, we give our top tips on doing business in India.
Delhi: India’s e-commerce hub
A lot of the growth is centralised in Delhi, which has great infrastructure, clean roads, a population with a real entrepreneurial spirit and lots of job opportunities. So it’s no surprise that Delhi has even overtaken Mumbai to become India’s largest e-commerce hub, making it a great pace to base your business.
The e-commerce industry has really grown up, and is helping Indian businesses reduce purchasing costs, get supplies more quickly and expand their reach as Indians become more adept at shopping online and comparing products.
But the success of an e-commerce business depends on how quickly you can deliver something once people have bought it. India’s transport network and infrastructure is improving every day, but it is a massive country which still has more to do to become as efficient as some other countries. So take the time to work out the logistics involved in fulfilling your orders before your website goes live.
Indians have money to spend
One of the biggest factors driving the growth of internet use is the growth in disposable income. India’s growing middle class are more likely to have a credit card and are hungry to buy branded, luxury items. And they’re more and more likely to be buying them online….
Growth of e-commerce
Global consulting firm McKinsey & Co says that India is on the verge of an "internet boom", and it’s on track to have between 330 million to 370 million internet users by 2015. Investors clearly agree that there are opportunities: the e-commerce industry has had almost £450 million worth of investment in the past two years.
More widespread internet access coupled with its growing middle class is a potent combination.
Target young India
Most of India’s internet users are young (15-34 is the biggest age group), educated, technologically savvy and hungry for more Indian websites to browse. Many of them are digital natives with enough disposable income to buy smartphones and tablets — and to buy products on them. If you’re an online business, this is your biggest market.
If you’re going to succeed, you’ll probably have to think about using social media. As well as Facebook (the most popular), Twitter and Pinterest, you might want to look into local social networks like Orkut and Ibibo too.
Mobile internet growth
According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), India will have 130.6 million mobile Internet users by March 2014, up from 87.1 million users in December 2012.
The McKinsey Quarterly says that India’s love for mobile devices makes sense, as it’s far simpler to provide an often rural, relatively poor population with internet access through a mobile device than a desktop.
If you’re toying with the idea of developing a website to target Indian consumers, make it a mobile-friendly one.
Looking for a market? Try jewellery or weddings
India’s luxury market is expected to grow by 25% in 2013, and a lot of that growth is down to India’s insatiable appetite for both gold and diamond jewellery.
It has one of the world’s largest jewellery markets, but only a handful of jewellery retailers have seen the potential of having a web presence. Online sales are still a tiny fraction of total sales — for now. If you’re in the jewellery business, there’s still a gap in the online market, and you might want to think about opening a store on eBay India and cornering the online market early on.
Another potential business avenue is weddings. Weddings are big businesses: Indian weddings are lavish affairs that last over several days and include the entire extended family. No expense is spared, and the wedding market is valued at about £7 billion.
Do you do business overseas? What are some of the challenges and rewards you’ve faced? Are you excited about the growth in internet users in India?