Anjali is a thirty-something, well-educated and smart new-age woman. Homemaker and busy mother of a two-year-old mischievous son, she hardly finds spare time to do what she enjoys most – reading and flaking out at the club pool. When she is not busy with the mundane household chores or handling her son’s tantrums, she is on the internet. Mind you, not checking her emails or chatting up with friends on Facebook, but shopping to stock up on baby essentials – food and toiletries. Apart from this, Anjali also orders toys and books online.
Anjali loathes shopping these days. “Internet shopping is a boon for mothers like me,” she exclaims. “The sheer thought of battling through thick, chaotic traffic and jostling through hordes of shoppers in the supermarket is a nightmare.” She also adds, “The entire ritual takes a good two hours. Getting the baby ready, packing his stuff and hauling myself to get a suitable public transport is a huge struggle. It really stresses me out and shopping becomes more of an ordeal and painful affair. At the end of it all, I’m pesky, irritable and totally drained out.”
Compare this to the peaceful confines of the home, where one can shop leisurely. “It’s so much more relaxing,” says Anjali emphatically. Surely many mothers would agree with Anjali as more and more women in India are discovering the convenience of net shopping.
Though internet shopping has been around in India for a while now, it was welcomed with much trepidation – security and quality of products being among the primary reasons. After a shaky start and slow growth period, it started gathering momentum and then the boom was unprecedented! People started shopping more confidently as safety apprehensions, with encrypted passwords and other checks, were cast away. They also realised the comfort and cost-effectiveness of shopping online. Today, the digital market boasts of over 40 million online shoppers in India, which accounts for 60 per cent of internet users.
Till recently, the net was predominantly used to reserve hotel rooms and buy air, rail or movie tickets, books and gadgets and gizmos, but now it has extended to segments much beyond than this. Groceries, clothes, beauty products and accessories, kitchen appliances, furnishings, jewellery, footwear, lingerie, et al. With every conceivable product now available virtually at an arm’s length, more and more people are flocking to the net. Women, especially, are all gung-ho about this new-found shopping opportunity.
Natasha, for instance, is a net-savvy, trendy, fashionable young girl with a plum job. She keeps herself clued-in with the latest fashion trends and up-market brand launches by surfing various fashion blogs and sites. After shortlisting her requirements, she goes to her favourite e-com site and orders them.
It’s not only door delivered, but also comes at a special online price. So, that Fuschia pink handbag and the stylish beige belt which she’s been longing for a while but never had the time to go and buy, literally lands in her laps. With packed-up-to-the-brim weekdays at office, Natasha reserves her weekends for catching up with movies and friends and relaxing. Shopping at crowded malls is something she totally averts. Even when she wants to buy gifts for her friends, Natasha orders them on the net.
Simplified shopping experience apart, e-commerce offers a plethora of benefits. Cash-on-delivery, return policy, special online-only deals, additional discounts for net payment are some of the more prominent ones that are rapidly drawing shoppers to the net. And whether you’re a working woman, homemaker, shopaholic, deal-monger, you couldn’t have had it better! As for entrepreneurs, there’s a growing market waiting to be explored and a wealth of opportunity waiting to be tapped.
The author is a consultant at Rage Communications in Chennai.