The E-Commerce industry in India: IBEF REPORT 2021


E-commerce has transformed the way business is done in India. The Indian E-commerce market is expected to grow to US$ 200 billion by 2026 from US$ 38.5 billion as of 2017. Much of the growth for the industry has been triggered by an increase in internet and smartphone penetration. As of September 2020, the number of internet connections in India significantly increased to 776.45 million, driven by the ‘Digital India’ program. Out of the total internet connections, ~61% of connections were in urban areas, of which 97% connections were wireless.

Market Size

The Indian online grocery market is estimated to reach US$ 18.2 billion in 2024 from the US $1.9 billion in 2019, expanding at a CAGR of 57%. India’s e-commerce orders volume increased by 36% in the last quarter of 2020, with the personal care, beauty, and wellness (PCB&W) segment being the largest beneficiary.

Propelled by rising smartphone penetration, the launch of the 4G network, and increasing consumer wealth, the Indian E-commerce market is expected to grow to US$ 200 billion by 2026 from US$ 38.5 billion in 2017. Online retail sales in India are expected to grow 31% to touch US$ 32.70 billion in 2018, led by Flipkart, Amazon India, and Paytm Mall.

In India, smartphone shipments reached 150 million units and 5G smartphone shipments crossed 4 million in 2020, driven by high consumer demand post-lockdown.

In festive season CY20, the Indian e-commerce GMV was recorded at US$ 8.3 billion, a significant jump of 66% over the previous festive season. Similarly, the Indian e-commerce market recorded ~88 million users in festive season CY20, a significant jump of 87% over the previous festive season.

Investments/ Developments

Some of the major developments in the Indian e-commerce sector are as follows:

  • In April 2021, Flipkart announced a commercial alliance with Adani Group to improve the company’s logistics and data centre capabilities and create about 2,500 direct jobs.
  • In April 2021, Flipkart announced to acquire Cleartrip, an online travel technology firm. Flipkart announced to purchase 100% shareholding of Cleartrip as the company expands its investments to broaden its digital commerce offerings for customers.
  • In April 2021, Kirana commerce platform ElasticRun raised US$ 75 million in a round led by existing investors—Avataar Venture Partners and Prosus Ventures.
  • In March 2021, Amazon acquired Bengaluru-based retail tech start-up Perpule for Rs. 107.6 crore (US$ 14.5 million).
  • In March 2021, Purplle, an online beauty store, raised US$ 45 million from Sequoia Capital India, Verlinvest, Blume Ventures and JSW Ventures.
  • In March 2021, Captain Fresh, a B2B marketplace for seafood, raised US$ 3 million in seed capital led by Matrix Partners India and Ankur Capital.
  • In March 2021, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), which represents 80 million traders and 40,000 trader associations, announced the launch of a mobile app for its e-commerce portal, ‘Bharat E-market’. The association aims to get more small traders to sell online easily through smartphones.
  • In February 2021, Flipkart partnered with Maharashtra State Khadi & Village Industries Board and Maharashtra Small Scale Industries Development Corporation to bring local artisans and small and medium businesses into the e-commerce ecosystem.
  • In February 2021, Zomato entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to introduce 300 street food vendors on its portal.
  • In February 2021, Flipkart Wholesale, the digital B2B marketplace of Flipkart Group will offer grocery on its app with an aim to provide kiranas and small retailers one-stop access to a wide selection of products.
  • In February 2021, Udaan, a B2B e-commerce firm, announced to expand its warehouse capacity (by 5x) to 50 million sq. ft. across several states in the next 7-8 years.
  • In January 2021, Flipkart introduced SuperCoin Pay to strengthen its SuperCoin rewards programme by allowing customers to pay through SuperCoins at >5,000 retail outlets across the country.
  • In January 2021, The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) unveiled, an e-commerce portal, which will comprise >50,000 products, ranging from apparel to home décor.
  • In January 2021, the B2B e-commerce platform, Udaan raised US$ 280 million (~Rs. 2,048 crore) in additional financing from new investors—Octahedron Capital and Moonstone Capital. Prior to this, in October 2019, the company raised US$ 585 million (~Rs. 4,280 crore) from Tencent, Altimeter, Footpath Ventures, Hillhouse, GGV Capital and Citi Ventures. It is likely to deploy the latest fund towards continued market creation of B2B e-commerce in India and digitise more small businesses across the country.
  • Flipkart partnered with PayTM for its annual Big Billion Days Sale event in October 2020, offering customers the convenience of making payments directly through the latter’s application with the bonus of receiving PayTM cashbacks over and above Flipkart discounts.
  • Infibeam Avenues signed a contract with Oman’s second-largest bank, the Bank of Muscat, to process the bank’s online card transactions of various payment networks through its digital payment solution—CCAvenue Payment Gateway Service in November 2020.
  • In November 2020, Amazon India announced collaboration with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited. Under this partnership, customers will be able to book and pay for their LPG cylinders until the delivery.
  • In November 2020, Amazon India has opened ‘Made in India’ toy store, in line with the government’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ vision. The store will allow thousands of manufacturers and vendors to sell toys driven by the Indian culture, folk tales and toys that promote creative thinking and are locally crafted & manufactured.

Government initiatives

Since 2014, the Government of India has announced various initiatives, namely Digital India, Make in India, Start-up India, Skill India, and Innovation Fund. The timely and effective implementation of such programs will likely support the growth of E-commerce in the country. Some of the major initiatives taken by the Government to promote E-commerce in India are as follows:

  • As of February 15, 2020, the Government eMarketplace (GeM), listed 1,071,747 sellers and service providers across over 13,899 product and 176 service categories. For the financial year 2020-21, government procurement from micro and small enterprises was worth Rs. 23,424 crore (US$ 3.2 billion).
  • In a bid to systematise the onboarding process of retailers on e-commerce platforms, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is reportedly planning to utilise the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) to set protocols for cataloguing, vendor discovery and price discovery. The department aims to provide equal opportunities to all marketplace players to make optimum use of the e-commerce ecosystem in the larger interest of the country and its citizen.
  • National Retail Policy: The government had identified five areas in its proposed national retail policy—ease of doing business, rationalisation of the licence process, digitisation of retail, focus on reforms and an open network for digital commerce—stating that offline retail and e-commerce need to be administered in an integral manner.
  • The Consumer Protection (e-commerce) Rules 2020 notified by the Consumer Affairs Ministry in July directed e-commerce companies to display the country of origin alongside the product listings. In addition, the companies will also have to reveal parameters that go behind determining product listings on their platforms.
  • Government e-Marketplace (GeM) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Union Bank of India to facilitate a cashless, paperless and transparent payment system for an array of services in October 2019.
  • Under the Digital India movement, Government launched various initiatives like Umang, Start-up India Portal, Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) etc. to boost digitisation.
  • In October 2020, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Piyush Goyal invited start-ups to register at public procurement portal, GeM, and offer goods and services to government organisations and PSUs.
  • In October 2020, amending the equalisation levy rules of 2016, the government mandated foreign companies operating e-commerce platforms in India to have permanent account numbers (PAN). It imposed a 2% tax in the FY21 budget on the sale of goods or delivery of services through a non-resident ecommerce operator.
  • In order to increase the participation of foreign players in E-commerce, Indian Government hiked the limit of FDI in E-commerce marketplace model to up to 100% (in B2B models).
  • Heavy investment made by the Government in rolling out fiber network for 5G will help boost E-commerce in India.


The E-commerce industry has been directly impacting micro, small & medium enterprises (MSME) in India by providing means of financing, technology, and training and has a favorable cascading effect on other industries as well. The Indian E-commerce industry has been on an upward growth trajectory and is expected to surpass the US to become the second-largest e-commerce market in the world by 2034. Technology-enabled innovations like digital payments, hyper-local logistics, analytics-driven customer engagement, and digital advertisements will likely support the growth in the sector. The growth in the E-commerce sector will also boost employment, increase revenues from export, increase tax collection by ex-chequers, and provide better products and services to customers in the long term. The rise in smartphone usage is expected to rise 84% to reach 859 million by 2022.

The E-retail market is expected to continue its strong growth – it registered a CAGR of over 35% to reach Rs. 1.8 trillion (US$ 25.75 billion) in FY20. Over the next five years, the Indian e-retail industry is projected to exceed ~300-350 million shoppers, propelling the online Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) to US$ 100-120 billion by 2025.

According to Bain & Company’s report, India’s social commerce gross merchandise value (GMV) stood at ~US$ 2 billion in 2020. By 2025, it is expected to reach US$ 20 billion, with a potentially monumental jump to US$ 70 billion by 2030, owing to high mobile usage.

Note: Conversion rate used for April 2020 is Rs. 1 = US$ 0.01334

References: Media Reports, Press releases, Business Standard, Economic Times, LiveMint, Times Now, Times of India, IBEF Report

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