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Online Shopping in India - Why More Shoppers Are Not Ordering Online

Aug 29, 2007
Online shopping is quite common these days in the developed world than it was about 5 years ago but it is not the same in India for its own set of reasons. In developed economies consumers find the worldwide web a great place for bargain-hunting, with most goods available at lower prices than in a bricks-and-mortar store. But convenience appears to be an even bigger attraction as revealed in surveys because most online shoppers find the crowded high street too stressful.

Though online shopping has witnessed growth in India but it is still not pervasive like the west and the growth is also limited to certain areas like online travel booking and perhaps stock trading (which actually is not pure e-commerce). The main reason why shoppers in India are not willing to shop online is that they don't get any real value or incentive. Also they are wary about fraud, delivery and customer service and their fears are not imaginary.

The first issue that online consumers are facing in India is the narrow range and limited choice of merchandize. Even the leading sites like ebay.in, indiaplaza.in, indiatimes or rediff have very limited range of items and therefore are hardly attractive. I personally searched many a times for books and music titles among other things in the Indian sites but seldom found any great product and never exciting prices.

In spite of limited range still some consumers want to buy online just for the sake of convenience but then their experience is also not good. There are too many cases of delayed delivery, damaged or inferior goods, quality issues and even instances of cheating where the goods were never shipped.

Once I bought 3 items from Sify shopping to gift a friend of mine and to my horror I came to know that out of 3 items only one was okay, another was damaged and the third once never sent at all. Needless to say there was no help from sify customer care and my complaint only fell to deaf ears and I was actually cheated. My experience with ebay.in was also bad; I ordered an electric hot plate which took more than double time than it was promised and finally one of he hob went off just after 2 days.

But the worst part of Indian online shopping is most of the goods are actually priced more than the street price which is just so ridiculous. Some sites like rediff and indiatimes do sell some cheap items but then they are mostly unbranded or low quality Chinese goods and basically waste of money. Here in India, you cannot expect any thing from your online merchants; no killer deals or exciting prices, no delivery guarantee, no after sales support or replacement warranty.

So as long as the online shopping sites continue to give raw deals to the shoppers buyers in India would prefer to shop from brick-and-mortar stores where at least they can inspect the product and bring them back for replacement or refund if found faulty. And this trend is quite natural as why one would buy some inferior goods at higher price where there is no commitment of delivery or after sales service. There are some people who are buying on net but in most cases they are one-time customers who will think twice to visit again after burning their fingers.

This is not an imaginary account and anybody can easily check out the facts about the customer satisfaction level of online shoppers in India. Just visit any product review website and start searching for keywords like "ebay". You will find lots of complaints and damning reviews which actually speak about the harassment and misfortune that these poor consumers had to face as they chose to buy online.

However, there is a demand for e-commerce in this country as people have less and less time to shop. I need not go to a store to buy books, music or gift items and if I can get a better price and some guarantee of after sales I will even buy capital goods like fridge or laptop computers from net.

Today consumers are looking for real good deals and they are not fools that you can hoodwink them. I am sure there are more people in India who buy books and music from amazon than those who shop regularly at rediff or indiantime and they do it because they can trust Amazon and get value there even if they have to pay hefty handling charges for the distance.

I purchase books regularly from amamzon because I know I will find any damn book in that site and I need not look around. Their customer service is also impeccable and on most occasions they have shipped before the expected delivery date. Precisely, this is the kind of value what the Indian shopping sites need to deliver to Indian customers because as the shopper will find value they will have no problems to shop online.
About the Author
Jaydeep Bhattacharjee writes on consumer issues concerning the Indian consumers. He is the founder of http://www.admanya.com - India's leading C2C portal. Admanya is free and it completely depends on consumer participation for its content. Join Admanya and be an empowered consumer - you can read or write a review about almost any product or service.
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