Ritika Jain/ Zee Research Group
Encouraged by the handsome 18 percent year on year growth in online shopping in India, the category has of late witnessed the entry of niche business verticals out there to partake of the ever growing e-ecommerce story in India.
While India already boasts of several big players with million plus regular customers, several new entrants are now getting busy to spread the digital canvas.
The rising Internet penetration driven by the wireless boom blended with the aspiration of the tech savvy youth offers a ripe market for both old and new players in the online shopping arena.
“There is nothing better than online shopping from your favorite designers in your pajamas with a glass of wine and kids asleep (if you have any),” said Pernia
Qureshi, designer stylist turned promoter of Pernia’s pop-upshop. For those looking for a fashion guide, this site claims to be the true guide. The site offers stylist’s own section titled ‘Pernia’s POV (Point of View)’ which models complete looks for the customers. ‘How-to’ videos, packed with fashion and beauty tips go hand-in-hand to make the online shopping experience worthwhile”, says the designer.
From fashion to jewellery, the offer is complete for those who love to binge online. Just two months old, Faballey.com, another website claims to be popular with shoppers.
“We stock some ridiculously cool, fashion-forward accessories – bags, shoes, jewellery, belts, scarves and hair accessories, at very affordable price and according to the global season trends. You can shop according to season’s trends, by your style personality and even by your budget,” said a spokesperson from Faballey.
Customization too is the order of the day! That is why new kids on the block have an all men shirt counter online @ stiffcollar.com. But it is the one in all and all in one formula that fuels the online shopping mart. Shersingh.com, a relative newcomer, like many others, sells almost everything under the lifestyle category.
“The lower prices and more convenient shopping experience will lead to further expansion of these markets. E-Commerce will only get bigger, at least 10 times bigger in the next five years,” said Mahesh Murthy, CEO, Pinstorm, a digital marketing company.
A survey by ComScore on online shopping in India revealed that in November 2011, 27.2 million online users, who were above the age of 15 accessed the retail category, which is an increase of 18 per cent from the previous year.
Recognized by Dataquest amongst the top 20 hottest ecommerce startups from India, ‘fashionandyou’ claims to have today over 3.6 million members across 1200 locations in India. Flipkart said it stood strong with over 11.5 million book titles and more than 3 million registered users.
One website which says “it changed the sector of coupon shopping” is ‘snapdeal’, where one can shop for coupons ranging from hair cut to spa to dinner at a restaurant. It provides deals with over 60,000 products of over 600 brands. Its registered customer base counted to be around 15, 00,000 spread over more than 4000 towns of India, the company website said.
The growth has come about with online shopping addressing the inherent discount mentality prevalent among consumers in India. As against the offline wait for end-of-season sale, online stores with almost every brand’s goods offer discounts around the year.
Explaining the rationale behind these discounts offered, Murthy opined, “They sacrifice a portion of their margin - or all of it - to consumers in an effort to buy loyalty. On some occasions they also pay for an additional discount from their own pockets.”
Discounts settled, but what about the fear accompanying e-shopping given the poor digital literacy among consumers in the country? “I buy from internet sites 5 to 10 times in a month and 1 - 3 or more times are from Indian sites. I suggest you shop around.” He advised against resting your shopping decision on mere popularity: “Flipkart is often not the cheapest place. Use a comparison search like Junglee to find the lowest prices.”
Experts suggest new shoppers to research before zeroing down on a site and preferably choose cash-on-deliver mode of payment for the first purchase. Indians who are often apprehensive about sharing their card/account information are truly benefitted by this feature.
Online companies, conscious of the safety issue, have also started offering free return policy with the liberty to the consumer to return the product if not satisfied with it. Also, shopper can now keep proper track of delivery of their order through regular mail and phone interaction with the companies.