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"Of the most discussed things in the business fraternity and e-commerce industry, one is the word ‘hyperlocal.’ Yes! The hyperlocal e-commerce platform is the latest buzz- one bearing promise, excitement and phenomenal growth."
Of the several blessings of internet and technological evolution, the most important is the coming into being of ‘hyperlocal ecommerce.’ If this term does not sound familiar to you, you are perhaps missing on a lot of growth and transformation that is happening around. A lot of consumers and most importantly businesses, regardless of any industry, are quite literally, going crazy about it. This growing craze is a bold assertion in itself that ‘hyperlocal e-commerce is the future.
So, what is meant by hyperlocal ecommerce and what is this global craze all about? Let us find out.
Hyperlocal e-commerce is a process that brings the vendors and buyers really close to each other so much so that it results in speedy ordering and delivery process. Hyperlocal e-commerce is super quick. It also helps the customers to connect with local stores of specific geographic regions and gives them a better experience of shopping by providing them fast delivery of the purchased products.
All in all, a hyperlocal delivery model is classified as an online business model in which the needs and demands of customers are met through local offline shops via a digital platform. A hyperlocal business model is a natural ingredient for hyperlocal ecommerce to take place. Such an e-commerce model enables the customers to choose and buy products online from closely located and nearby shops.
We all remember the pandemic times. Right? Had it not been for the sake of making online deliveries and meeting quick demands, hyperlocal e-commerce would not have gained such rapid pace the way it has. Statistics reveal the demand of groceries and other essential products ordered online jumped to almost six times around the end of 2020 since the lockdown was implemented. And why not, online buying is the way forward! And if such statistics are anything to go by, hyperlocal e-commerce is here to stay.
2. Hyperlocal E-Commerce: Managing Deliveries Through Strict Time Schedules
A hyperlocal e-commerce takes into due consideration the following two perspectives- geographical proximity and time taken to deliver.
By this, it is intended that a hyperlocal e-commerce can be everything, but far away and sluggish. So, what makes it so close to businesses and customers and blazing fast and super quick?
The hyperlocal business model may be the answer. The entire model is built in a manner that the whole chain of business activities is so clubbed and interrelated that they all lead to maximum gains for the business, both in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. The model ensures geographical proximity between the local buyers and vendors, thereby facilitating the selling, buying and delivery process. Perhaps, this is the reason why businesses and customers are going after it so passionately.
Have you never felt that need of conveniently ordering a gift from a hyperlocal e-commerce business? Or, Don’t you remember ordering a pizza for your hungry children while you were busy attending guests at home?
We all have had, in part or whole, our share of experiences with the hyperlocal e-commerce platforms. Such experience have made us believe things about businesses and deliveries, that were difficult to fathom by many of us, a decade or two back.
Modern day consumers know their buying choices and preferences well and given an option they prefer to choose ‘convenience’ above everything else. This is where the role of hyperlocal e-commerce platforms come into play. This platform gives consumers immense power to make orders and purchases possible at their own discretion, with minimal buying efforts, while they happily choose to remain in the confines of their homes.
Sellers too are not far behind in making every buck possible that arise out of a hyperlocal e-commerce transaction. They are aware of the change in consumer buying choices and patterns and the ongoing transformation of markets they intend to serve. In the hope to serve such potential markets, many retailers are investing money and committing themselves in online delivery services.
Hyperlocal e-commerce marketplace is the newest trend providing small businesses an opportunity to reach more customers online for selling goods & services. The business model is convenient for a plenty of buyers as well, as they can hop from one online store to another for choosing and buying products of their choice.
3. Benefits Associated With Hyperlocal ECommerce
a. Massive Outreach
Since every business activity is getting done online through a hyperlocal software, businesses can reach to a large section of the society, both within the country and abroad, easily. This provides businesses with opportunities to capture a large segment of the market- a thing that wouldn’t have been possible with any traditional business.
b. Improved customer experience post purchase
There is a natural craving among consumers for having pleasant experiences. A hyperlocal ecommerce platform offers them this feature. A customer experience, in the contemporary times of hyperlocal deliveries, can be defined as the sum total of features the hyperlocal platforms provide to them through deliveries. This is why hyperlocal deliveries are often deemed to be significant contributors to customers’ experiences.
c. Visibility for local stores
Which business wouldn’t like to increase its visibility? Hyperlocal e-commerce platforms, by virtue of their widespread global presence, offers businesses a huge prospect of increasingly its visibility. Increased visibility of a business enhances the chances of more customers viewing it, interacting with it and ordering from it. This is a big benefit for local vendors as they get an opportunity to present their offerings in front of a wide array of customers.
d. Minimal efforts for online retailers
Retailers and local sellers have enjoyed every bit of the hyperlocal journey they have had so far. An efficient hyperlocal software does all the hard and tedious work himself, and leaves little for onboard businesses to make efforts and worry about. This simplifies a lot of business problems and saves a lot of effort that could have otherwise gone into any activity concerning a non-hyperlocal business.
e. Lower logistics costs
Since the vendors and customers are located close to each other in a hyperlocal e-commerce model, and there is a more continuous demand and supply of products, vendors don’t have to bear the cost burden of managing a huge inventory and logistics. A smart and everyday order management system helps them stay clear of any logistical costs arising out of hyperlocal e-commerce transactions.
4. Features Of A Good Hyperlocal Ecommerce Software
- Aesthetically appealing and attractive dashboard
The first impressions of a website or the landing page should be appealing. A good software takes due care of that. Aesthetics, after all are extremely important.
The first impressions of a website or the landing page should be appealing. A good software takes due care of that. Aesthetics, after all are extremely important.
- User friendly interface
The more user friendly is the interface, the increased is the likelihood to attract users naturally to your business.
- Simple sign up
No user of today likes hassles. A simple and easy or a one or two step sign up process helps businesses have an upper hand over other lengthy and technical platforms or software.
- Instant ordering and approval facility
We are living in an age where online orders and deliveries are met instantly. Any business caught lacking on that front shall suffer and no business will like that. To assist such facilities of instant ordering and approval, automation plays a pivotal role viz a viz- ‘auto confirmation of orders’ and ‘auto assignment of drivers’ are features than can help you stay distinguished. So, to ensure that the software you plan to have, has such features, is business prudence.
- Live order tracking
With convenience of the utmost degree already at their disposal, not having a live order tracking feature may hurt a business’s prospects. Customers are getting impatient with every order they make. They need to check once in a while the whereabouts of their order. So, it can be an important feature to own and flaunt, too.
- Quick delivery
If you are a hyperlocal ecommerce business, you can be everything but slow. So, making quick deliveries is not an option over here. You ought to be quick; instead, super quick in order to outcompete the rival businesses. And only a capable software can help you do that.
- Real time location tracking
Tracking the location in real time’ is a feature of highly efficient apps that acts as an icing on the cake for onboard businesses. So, it’s really important to ensure your business avails this feature.
- Route optimization through GPS
It is the process of finding the best and most cost-effective route for delivery drivers. Automated route optimization helps businesses to stay ahead by formulating delivery routes that are both time and cost-effective. So, a software that is GPS enabled and works on a satellite-based radionavigation system can surely help you optimize routes for your business.
- Advanced payment services and options of payment gateways
Have you ever thought how would it feel to get stuck while making payments for your online order? It’s a bad experience to have. But having a software that has PayPal, Stripe, etc., integrated into the software can be a bang for the buck as they really provide transactional ease and convenience of the next level. Businesses should ensure the availability of such advanced payment services and multiple payment gateway options to avoid any transactional bottlenecks. Moreover, what can be an add-on for a business is the acceptance of payments in cryptocurrencies through a gateway named ‘Coinbase’.
- Advanced and intelligent product search options
This feature enables customers to quickly find products of their desired choice. The more intelligent the software is, the more advantaged the business becomes. Filters and tags are often used by hyperlocal eCommerce software to put forth in front of customers the most wanted, looked-for and desired products. This feature brings customers closer to the products of their choice. So, having this feature can really set businesses apart and help them stay in front and ahead of others.
- Huge database of customers
Smart, efficient and futuristic hyperlocal eCommerce software generally have a high database of customers which enables businesses in improved decision making. A huge database of customers, if realized, is a big benefit for businesses. It is just about how well they are able to capitalize on it.
- Instant notifications
In this fast-paced world of superfast hyperlocal deliveries, instant notifications about an order are accepted with a warm embrace. Customers do like to be notified instantly. For instance, Hyperzod relies on firebase- an app backed by google, as a service provider in order to provide push notifications. So, it’s a feature important enough to be considered by businesses when choosing a software.
- Reviews and feedbacks
A good software always provides and promotes genuine user reviews and feedbacks. It makes customers feel that they too have a say. And if your business can lend ears to your customers, there isn’t anything better.
5. Learning About The Factors To Keep In Mind While Deciding Upon A Hyperlocal Ecommerce Software
Choosing an e-commerce platform can often be a challenging and deciding task. As against the floating belief that it is easy, it is not a one-size-fits-all decision. The platform that best fits your business’s bill depends on two fundamental things- your specific business needs and technical expertise. It is important to know about your needs and expertise prior to finding a hyperlocal eCommerce software.
For instance, if you are an entrepreneur or a start-up who does not want to deal with the complications of website development, it is recommended that you start with a SaaS-based (Software-as-a-service) hyperlocal e-commerce platform. Though one can find a plenty of SaaS based platforms, but there are a few who are distinguished from the rest. So, some prudence is also advised when a business chooses to pick one over the other.
It just needs to be kept in mind that an efficient and futuristic platform generally takes care of the technical aspects like web hosting, payment processing, platform customization, order scheduling, among others. As a result, you can quickly and easily launch your hyperlocal e-commerce business.
If you are an aspiring business or an entrepreneur who is just starting in the online space, the following points can help you decide.
Some of the many factors that you need to consider when selecting the right hyperlocal eCommerce software/platform for your business can be as follows-
This is one of the most fundamental aspects to consider for any business. Whether you’re a small business, a local retailer or an already established brand trying to make and grow yourself online, you need to understand the cost structure of each platform. Almost all hyperlocal e-commerce platforms have a monthly or an annual fee. Consider how your customers will pay for your products to help assess opportunity costs. While it’s natural to expect the best-in-class features from your partnering e-commerce platform, you also don’t want to overpay. So, the primary task is to do a comprehensive research work and weigh properly the pros and cons of each platform. Secondarily, decide as to which platform offers the features at a price that best meet your business’s needs and objectives.
b. User friendliness
This may be one of the most sought-after features of a great hyperlocal eCommerce software. An easy-to-use software is a big yes for all businesses wanting to go online. In other words, a software that is user friendly naturally attracts a lot of users on its platform. Hence businesses should actively look for this feature. One of the best ways to ensure it is to look for features that make it easier for your customers to shop from your e-commerce business and also simultaneously smoothen the ways for you to sell online efficiently.
It is suggested to aim for an understandable and easy-to-use interface that gives a business the ability to capture the feel of its unique brand fully. For example, look for features like ‘smart product discovery.’ Based on the searches a customer makes, the platform brings forth those categories of products he wants or likes to see. This feature gives power to customers to choose a product of their liking easily and conveniently, with just a few clicks and taps. Similarly, a feature like ‘easy order management’ empowers a business to get all the order related work done, in again just a few taps and clicks.
Few questions can be borne in mind while choosing an e-commerce platform:
Does the platform provide easy and convenient ways of putting and shuffling your best products first?
Does it offer neat and clear categorization of your offerings so that it is easy to understand for the users?
Does it provide quick ordering facility?
Are you able to create different categories for your products and map them easily?
Is the platform intuitive in terms of knowing the needs of the customers and displaying the best possible products on the platform?
c. Uninterrupted customer and technical support
No business ever wants a dissatisfied customer. And to ensure their needs and grievances are taken a good care of, there is customer and technical support. During the course of managing an e-commerce store, a business might encounter problems that will require troubleshooting on an urgent basis. Therefore, it becomes binding upon them to look for an e-commerce platform that offers solid tech solutions and have a genial customer support team.
For instance, a platform that offers tech and customer support only during specific hours would be a serious drawback for a business. It is a big no, in fact, as it can leave the customers aggrieved and wanting for solutions. It is important to ensure to get onboard a platform that provides an uninterrupted support via email, live chat, or WhatsApp, etc.
d. SEO Friendliness
While it is true that SEO friendliness is important to have a successful online business, it is even truer that having an SEO friendly hyperlocal e-commerce platform can be a mere wish for many businesses. Not every platform is as SEO friendly as some really good ones. So, what does SEO friendly mean? And what does it actually do?
Making a website SEO-friendly means that google and other search engines can crawl each page on the website efficiently, interpret the content effectively, and index it in their database. Once indexed, they can then serve the most relevant and valuable web pages to their users based on the topics they search for.
A website that is effectively optimized for SEO helps consumers to discover your business and its offerings through search engines. That’s why your e-commerce platform must have SEO abilities that can help your business get discovered online easily.
e. Detailed analytics & real time reporting
This feature helps businesses in making quick decisions. And to make quick decisions, a business needs to well informed. While on one hand, detailed analytics thoroughly generates the past and present business data at one place to build deeper understanding, real time reporting, on the other hand, ensures instant updates on the happenings, at literally the speed of light.
Through this feature, businesses can track all the important things viz a viz—number of sales, payment methods, products most often viewed or ordered, order amounts, and more. Just ensure that the stats are displayed in an easy-to-understand format. Such detailed and comprehensive presentation of data and statistics surely assists a business in improving its decisions and performance over time.
f. Single/Multi-vendor support and scalability
Every business aims growth. A single vendor business may join hands with a hyperlocal eCommerce software in the hope that it will scale up its business someday. So, what do you do if a day arrives when your business starts growing and you choose to move from being a single vendor to a multi-vendor one? Do you then go about looking for a platform that can make you a multi-vendor business? Certainly not. So, it is recommended to take care of this option initially, when choosing your first hyperlocal e-commerce platform. Not to forget, there may be a feature of auto-scalability as well that hyperlocal platforms may have. It adjusts the scalability automatically depending upon the data. Such a feature empowers your business by providing wings to let you grow easily and uninterruptedly.
Being able to know and predict the future correctly is surely an add-on feature for businesses onboard a hyperlocal platform. Prior to choosing to get onboard, it is important to ensure whether the software is futuristic in nature or not.
Can it predict things of value for your business?
Can it be relied upon?
Does it have a strong enough analytics and artificial intelligence backed processes so as to make sound future judgements relating to markets, products, etc.?
6. Why Should You Fervently And Quite Optimistically Invest In A Hyperlocal Ecommerce Software
The market has witnessed increased interest of investors in the hyperlocal e-commerce segment primarily due to proposed value propositions of online business models which have been able to improve ‘user experience’ and ‘user interface’ to a great extent and have drastically reduced consumer pain points caused from traditional business models. As a result of such change, the hyperlocal e-commerce model appears to be the most lucrative resort for a lot of businesses, irrespective of the industry.
This, it is supposed, can be a reason enough for aspiring businesses to lay their hands on them without much procrastination.
As the world goes hyperlocal, there are plenty of opportunities lying ahead for businesses who are passionate about what they do and how do they do it. A little transformation, if needed, and small incremental steps towards adopting a hyperlocal model can spell out the future for your business.
It is noteworthy to assert, by analyzing data and trends, that businesses who are going to survive and make big money out of their investments will certainly be the ones who accept and adopt to the changing needs of the target markets and their respective customers- and that calls for getting into the ‘hyperlocal mode’ as soon as possible.
As they say- ‘the early bird catches the prey’, so should your business, by deciding upon its niche, capability areas, the hyperlocal e-commerce partner and your prospects with it. Having done this, it is suggested to then make a well-prepared incursion into the market quickly and as early as possible.
Afterall, pioneer firms have their own first mover advantages. Would you not want to have one for your business?