Travel E-Commerce Rising In India At A Healthy Pace
I actually wanted to put the title as ‘Travel Sector continues to remain the only e-commerce friendly sector in India’ for obvious reasons we all are aware of but thought a little optimism won’t hurt.
It is clear that E-commerce in India is still far more mature with Security being one the primary concerns when it comes to shopping online in India. However, there is one sector which has defied the odds and thrived on an E-Commerce platform. No questions for guessing this, it is indeed the Travel Sector
Surprisingly, a lot of the credit goes to the government based IRCTC which has been the biggest contributor to e-commerce in India accounting for as much as 1/3rd of the total
Comscore has published a report on the increase of visitations to Travel sites in India which further establishes the fact that the Indian consumer is indeed maturing to the e-commerce at least when it comes to booking travel tickets
According to the report, the visits to travel sites in India has grown to over 14 million in April this year leading to a 50% increase as compared to last year
Travel Sites are now reaching more than 1/3rd of the Internet population in India with leading travel sites all witnessing double-digit growth to their websites.
IRCTC continues to top the list of travel e-commerce websites with 7.7 million visitors which is understood since rail transport is indeed the most commonly used mode in India. Moreover, IRCTC has launched a flight booking service this year which should further boost the numbers for IRCTC should the service pick up.
MakemyTrip enjoys the second spot but is way below IRCTC with close to 2.4 million visits. This could be understood from the fact that the target customer base for air tickets is considerably smaller. However, with Bus ticketing and the newly launched Rail Ticketing launched, Makemytrip would be aiming at eating a significant share from IRCTC.
The report highlights another interesting fact concerning the visitor behavior on these travel sites. Travel sites in India witness strong engagement levels with major websites averaging >10 minutes per visit which is phenomenal.
My Take on Strong Engagement Levels
One look at the stats and it definitely shows that users like to explore the travel websites to their heart’s content while they are at it. One possible reason is definitely the search for the Best Deals specially for booking air-tickets. I can personally vouch for the fact that the air-ticket availability and the price vary significantly on different travel portals and that surely adds to the increased visits to multiple sites and increased time spent on travel wesbites.
However, i fail to understand 33 minutes per visitor(average) spent on IRCTC. There is no comparison needed on it with train ticket prices constant. Moreover, even on other travel websites the time spend per visit is high.
Could the high time spent be a function of the usability (speed/navigation) of these travel websites. The observation is intuitive and i don’t have hard numbers to prove the same but there has to be an element of complexity involved which might be making it difficult for the average user to find his/her around the site. What do you think?
All said and done, the growth for travel websites is heartening and brings hope for the e-commerce industry in India. But, other sectors ( merchandise, books, clothes) have never managed to leverage the e-commerce model that well in India. Could it be the Touch and Feel Before Buying mindset which makes it difficult for the adoption of e-commerce portals in India?