E-commerce in India: Distribution Channels and the Way Forward

India’s e-commerce landscape has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, shaped by a growing economy, technological advancements, and shifting consumer behaviors. In this blog, we’ll delve into the different channels of distribution, the factors affecting channels of distribution, and the future of e-commerce in India.

The Indian e-commerce industry is projected to reach US$ 300 billion by 2030, experiencing significant growth.Third-party logistics providers are anticipated to manage approximately 17 billion shipments within the next seven years.

Different Channels of Distribution

Traditional Retail: This includes small shops, mom-and-pop stores, and local markets. These channels continue to play a significant role, especially in rural and semi-urban areas.

Modern Trade: Supermarkets, hypermarkets, and large retail chains offer a wide range of products under one roof. These channels are becoming more prominent in urban centers.

E-commerce: Online shopping has grown exponentially in India, providing consumers with access to a vast selection of products and convenient home delivery.

Direct-to-Consumer (D2C): Brands are increasingly bypassing traditional retail channels to sell directly to consumers through their websites or social media platforms. By 2027, India’s retail market will be worth between $150 and $170 billion, and a sizable portion of that expansion is attributable to direct-to-consumer (D2C) companies. 

Hybrid Commerce: This approach blends online and offline experiences. For instance, customers might browse products online and then pick them up at a physical store, or vice versa.


Factors Affecting Channels of Distribution

Consumer Preferences: Indian consumers are becoming more discerning and demanding, influencing distribution strategies. They seek convenience, quality, and a wide variety of choices, which affects how products are distributed.

Technology: The proliferation of smartphones and access to the internet have transformed distribution channels. Technology enables efficient logistics, real-time tracking, and seamless customer interactions, which influence how products are distributed.

Infrastructure: India’s infrastructure plays a crucial role in shaping distribution channels. While urban areas have robust logistics networks, rural areas may still face challenges in terms of transportation and connectivity.

Regulations: Government policies and regulations regarding retail and e-commerce have a direct impact on distribution channels. Compliance with these rules affects the choice of distribution methods.

In the realm of B2B e-commerce, India allows 100% foreign direct investment (FDI). Furthermore, the marketplace model of e-commerce benefits from the same liberal policy, with 100% FDI permitted under the automatic route. This regulatory framework facilitates foreign investments and encourages growth and innovation within the Indian e-commerce sector.

Globalization: Exposure to global markets and international players has shifted Indian consumers’ expectations, pushing local businesses to adapt global distribution channels.

The Future of E-commerce in India

The future of e-commerce in India holds immense potential due to several factors:

  • Rising internet penetration, with over 918.19 million users as of September 2023 and over 1199 million telecom subscribers as of February 2024, is expanding the consumer base for online shopping.
  • The growing middle class, with increasing disposable income, is driving demand, while secure and convenient payment solutions like UPI and digital wallets encourage online transactions. With over 821 million users, India was the second-largest internet market in the world with 117.6 billion UPI transactions in 2023.
  • The shopping experience has significantly evolved, offering convenience, product reviews, flexible delivery options, augmented reality for product visualization, and AI-powered virtual assistance for instant support. E-commerce platforms are diversifying their product offerings, from electronics and apparel to groceries and home goods, and using data analytics to provide personalized shopping experiences.One of India’s e-commerce giants is entering the quick commerce sector by establishing dark stores in cities like Bengaluru, Delhi (NCR), and Hyderabad, aiming for 10-15 minute deliveries, further enhancing the shopping experience.

Additionally, hybrid commerce is merging online and offline shopping, with strategies like click-and-collect, showrooming, online-to-offline promotions, integrated loyalty programs, and personalized experiences.


The rise of e-commerce and hybrid commerce presents exciting opportunities for businesses 

The E-commerce industry in India has significantly influenced micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by offering financing, technology, and training, which positively impacts other industries as well. On a robust growth path, the Indian E-commerce sector is poised to surpass the US and become the world’s second-largest E-commerce market by 2034. Innovations in technology, such as digital payments, hyper-local logistics, analytics-driven


Balasubramanian A

Senior VP & Business Head
TeamLease Services Limited

Latest Blogs

E-commerce in India: Distribution Channels and the Way Forward

Factors Affecting Channels of Distribution Consumer Preferences: Indian consumers are becoming more discerning and demanding, influencing distribution strategies. They seek convenience, quality, and a wide...

Read More

The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion: Beyond the C-Suite Directive

Closing inclusivity gap In an era marked by profound demographic shifts, technological advancements, and global interconnectedness, diversity and inclusion are more crucial than ever. A...

Read More

The Production Linked Incentive – Journey so Far

Slowing Investment in Key Sectors Under PLI Scheme in India Investment in key sectors identified to boost domestic manufacturing under the Centre's Production-Linked Incentive (PLI)...

Read More

Formalisation of India’s Labour Market

Government Initiatives The government has launched several initiatives aimed at transitioning to a more formal labour market: Make in India: This initiative aims to make...

Read More

Healthcare & Pharma Jobs in India: Key Drivers & Opportunities

Technology Integration and R&D Investments: Technology is rapidly transforming healthcare delivery and fostering job growth. Advances in telemedicine, AI diagnostics, health analytics using big data,...

Read More