First we measured whose GMV (gross merchandise value) was bigger. That turned problematic in the era of discounts, because more GMV often translated to more losses.
Then there was the craze for app commerce. Who could get more app downloads? That lost favor too as the realization dawned that downloads did not mean long-term use. So, measuring user engagement became the new standard.
Different comparison points have their pros and cons. Now there’s a new one – the volume of phone calls that a retailer handles.
Caller ID app Truecaller – which is the third most downloaded app in India after Facebook and WhatsApp – anonymously aggregated incoming and outgoing calls to ecommerce companies in the first six months of the year.
The verdict? Flipkart, Amazon, and Snapdeal lead the pack, in that order. But a closer look reveals some interesting shifts.
What does a higher share of incoming calls mean?
Calls from a user to retailer (or vice versa) can be anything related to purchasing, complaints, customer service, delivery, etc.
Flipkart actually increased its lead over Amazon in call volume in the second quarter, as compared to the first quarter. But does that mean Flipkart usage has increased, or that Amazon has become so much more efficient that less phone calls are required to handle orders?
Kim Fai Kok, communications director at Truecaller, agrees that more calls may not necessarily mean more business. “We’re measuring call volume – and that should not be confused with market share and the entire usage of any of the services,” he tells Tech in Asia. “Calls from a user to retailer (or vice versa) can be anything related to purchasing, complaints, customer service, delivery, etc.”
Interestingly, as we can see in the chart, both Flipkart and Amazon have a significantly higher percentage of outgoing calls. Snapdeal, on the other hand had an equal number of outgoing and incoming calls in the second quarter. In fact, it is the only one among the top seven ecommerce players analyzed which had that pattern.
Does the higher percentage of incoming calls suggest more complaints with the service or problems in delivery? Or does it simply have to do with a process unique to Snapdeal? We won’t know without a deeper dive into the context of the calls. Perhaps this calls for an application of artificial intelligence.
One thing seems quite clear, though, from the six months of anonymously tracking calls between etailers and Truecaller users – The volume of calls has risen steadily from around March. Overall, there has been a 27 percent increase in calls in June compared to the beginning of the year.
Ecommerce still accounts for only 6 percent of retail sales in India – but it continues to grow at a good clip. What’s also interesting to note from the call volume data is the sharp rise of Alibaba-backed Paytm, which has almost caught up with Snapdeal.
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