Indians have been shopping online for some time now. The benefits are many – ease of browsing for whatever one wants to buy from the comfort of one’s home, secured mode of payment, even flexible payment options like paying on delivery, good bargain offers, more choices being offered.
Online shopping becomes an even more attractive option especially during festival time, where one can avoid the jostling crowd and struggle to find a parking place and even traffic jams.
But are Indians shopping enough on the Net? Will it be possible to overcome age old habit of look and feel a product before buying it? Will it beat the thrill of an active bout of bargaining with the shopkeeper and coming out the shop happy to have got a good bargain? Is it more of window shopping that Indians are indulging in?
Christmas has just gone by and New Year is a couple of days away. exchange4media seeks to find out how the online shopping scene has been this festive season.
Travel and Entertainment – the only two big online categories
Rahul Nanda, COO, Webchutney Studio Pvt Ltd, pointed out, “Online buying has not really picked as much this year, making the Net more of a ‘window shop’ rather than an ‘online market’ in any true sense of the word (except for the travel products, maybe). As per a JuxtConsult Report, the growth of the online buying population has grown by 29 per cent, which is even less than the growth of the Internet usage base, which grew at 33 per cent for the same period.”
On the other hand, even if it is only the travel sector that has seen some action in the online market place, Amar Deep Singh, VP, Interactive Avenues, is optimistic about the future of online shopping in India. He said, “The Internet is no more a window shopping space, it is a serious marketplace in India, and with the increase in Internet usage (the audience is growing at 30 per cent every year), and increase in Internet speeds, this marketplace is only going to get bigger. Travel is already a very big category in e-commerce, with rail, air and buses moving on to the Internet. Online travel will overtake traditional distribution platforms in the next 2-3 years. The other big category is entertainment, with almost all movie theatres having an online presence.”
With a commendable size of Internet user base and the financial and infrastructural support system in place, the online shopping space surely looks promising for the future. As Singh asserted, “Online sales as a percentage of overall sales across categories, which is currently between 10 per cent and 15 per cent, is likely to cross 50 per cent in the next 3-5 years. Besides, the current books, music, real estate and online trading, consumer electronics, apparel, and jewellery are some of the categories that are likely to grow in the coming year.”
It, of course, remains to be seen whether there would be heightened online shopping activities around festival time or whether it would be able to show a consistent trend even in non-festival times. This would require ‘shopping melas’ on the Net to attract customers. Probably it calls for an Indian version of Jay Leno’s ‘Things we found on e-bay’ segment on our TV shows as well and other places where the experience of shopping gets promoted.