Tuesday, September 2, 2014

online shopping

Last week, I was surprised to see a delivery van stopping in front of my house and unloading a set of four or five  well packed items. I was curious to know what they were .  My son who was present to receive the delivery asked me to wait till the item was assembled.  After half an hour when he led me to his bedroom on the first floor of our home I was surprised to see a well designed  Queensize wooden cot (bed!), the colour of which was matching  the rest of the wardrobe in his bedroom. My son  told me that he had ordered the cot online!

Online shopping, as per a recent article in a newspaper, is fast catching on.  I can vouch  for it judging by the number of things that my son has acquired in the last couple of years, through online shopping. Like a digital camera,  Laptop, LCD TV, Multiple charger for mobiles and now the cot.  I understand that my daughter -in -law even ordered some fancy clothes online!

I asked my son why he prefers online shopping to physical shopping.  His answer was typical of the modern youth, “it is so convenient to shop online, appa.  I go through the websites of all the portals selling items on line and order the ones that give me the best bargain”

A typical old timer that I am, I asked “what if the item is not to your liking after you receive it or it comes with some defect?”

“No problem, appa.  If it is a genuine complaint, the portal will take the defective item back and replace it with a new one!”

He also told me how the online shopping helps him save on time & expenses  wasted on visiting various shops selling specific items. “ You can also pay cash on delivery of the item and  even buy vegetables and groceries online!”

Online sales of retail goods in India totaled $2billion in 2013 and is expected to reach $ 76 billion by 2020. I learn  that there is a big upsurge  in the sale of items online even  in Class I and Class II towns of India.  Our folks in the hinterlands of the country who are increasingly becoming tech savvy and who today have more  purchasing power in their hands, are using online shopping instead of wasting time, effort, money visiting the nearby cities to shop for high end products. I think the importance of `Touch & Feel`  and  `demonstration` of the products considered so vital to sell products in rural India is no more an issue in rural marketing -atleast among the well-heeled folks in rural India

No wonder Flipkart, one of the fastest growing  online shopping portals started in 2007 by two friends in Bangalore has  fetched a valuation of $ 7 billion making it not only India`s largest start-up but also one of the most valuable companies in the country. Flipkart is posing a major challenge to  Amazon- the biggest online retailer in the world, who themselves are expanding their footprints in India to exploit the  fast growing  online shopping market cutting across all product categories. Jumping on  the band wagon are IT tycoons Narayan Murthy & Aziz Premji who have invested heavily to provide back end support to Indian companies online. They are soon to be followed by Ratan Tata one of the most successful industrialists of modern India.

And there are also variations  of the idea . Portals like  olx.com, quickrr.com , etc. help  sell   second hand ( used)  items – like cars, two wheelers, fridges etc. at prices  equivalent to market rates based on online auction of the items. All that you have to do is to take a picture of the item, display it on the website of the portal with a brief description of the condition of the item  and lo and behold the sale is effected online.  No question of releasing an advertisement in the paper, waiting  for potential customers to visit your house for inspection of the item, negotiation of price, etc. Everything is done online. The portal takes a small cut in the sale price as their commission for handling the deal.

While online shopping  or e-commerce as it is also known,  is making such strides I was wondering what will happen to all the established retail chains selling multiple brands.  I got the answer in the news that one of the oldest retail chains with headquarters in Chennai - VIVEKS  has partnered with `eBay` to launch its brand store on the portal. I am sure many other chains will follow suit.

 Online shopping may be a boon for the hard pressed modern youth who are for ever busy with their smart phones/tablets. But  as a senior citizen with an old mindset, I would any day prefer physical shopping to online shopping for vegetables,or  groceries or any other household items that I need!  There is a great joy in visiting the vegetable market, physically checking out the quality of items you want and bargaining with the vendor about the rates before you buy the vegetables. And the sense of achievement you get when you manage to get a little extra quantity (Kosuru) is something which you have to experience!

It is perhaps, this old mindset that is also making me carry on with my 20 years old refrigerator and 17 years old top loading washing machine even today – having  over the  years replaced every part of these machines except the compressors  to keep them going . Because the service mechanic assures me  that the compressors ( the heart) of the machines  that I own are original pieces !

`You don`t get such sturdy machines any more sir, Keep it .don`t dispose it. Any problem, just give me a call on my mobile and I will come & fix it sir`. With a gullible old customer like me he is assured of some  business at regular intervals.

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