Online Shopping in India – The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
Unlike some years ago, today almost everything can be purchased online. From electronics to clothes to groceries, all these things are just a click away. But then very often we hear of various customers lashing out on companies through social media due to some mess up with their orders. Does this mean that online shopping isn’t good? No.
Over the past 2 years, online shopping has gained a vast traction in our country, but so has use of social media. We take a look at the good, bad and ugly side of this ongoing gaga over online shopping from a bird’s eye-view.
The biggest benefit of online shopping is ‘convenience’ as it can be done from anywhere, at anytime and even from our phones as all you need to do so is have a decent internet connection. You don’t face problems like the shop is too far or it might be closed. Now e-commerce brands have their own mobile apps, so this makes the experience even richer. Want something? Order it while laying in bed. It couldn’t get better than that, right?
Also, many a times online shopping is cheaper than offline. For example — my Macbook Air sells for Rs. 72,000 in brick and mortar stores and the maximum discount that they gave was around 8% which brings the price down to approximately Rs. 66,000. The same product is available on many e-commerce sites for around Rs. 58,000. The difference is of a considerable Rs. 6,000 which cannot be overlooked.
One obviously cannot blame offline shops as they have overhead costs. More importantly, it’s a known fact that e-commerce players are known to undercut the prices by taking a loss to attract more customers to their platform. This is one of the reasons many companies are opting for an online only model to sell their products as it helps them sell it for cheaper. Online exclusives also are becoming a fad as not only tech companies but also food brands like Coca Cola and Britannia choose to sell Coke and biscuits on the internet!
In some cases, the products selling online are sometimes a lot better than what is being sold offline. For eg. — The Moto G 2nd Gen, the ASUS Zenfone 5 and the Xiaomi Redmi Note are the best budget phones and are available online only. So if you’re averse to online shopping then you may have to settle for something inferior.
Products that are sold exclusively online are intangible. Like when a company exclusively launches a phone online, you cannot get a hands on experience of it. There are chances that you may not like the looks or functionality of a product when it reaches you and there is not much you can do about it even if you read all the specifications, firsthand.
Sellers can make the product look beautiful through any image editing software. This problem can get worse when buying apparels. Many a times, the clothes or shoes may not fit you correctly.
Although most sites have a return policy, you can only return the item and get money in your account. So basically your money is blocked till you purchase something else from that site. The same goes for edibles. Fruits and vegetables may look good on the site but in reality they may not be as fresh.
Another bad point to consider is the after-sales support which isn’t as personal as you’ll get when you buy a product offline. For instance, if you buy a phone offline, the store may help you migrate your contacts from your old phone to the new one, if you don’t know how to do that. If you order that phone online, it’s only the delivery person that will deliver the product and leave immediately.
One of the worst incidents in the Indian e-commerce was that of Snapdeal sending a soap bar to a person who ordered a phone. This created quite a stir in social media and Snapdeal received a lot of flak for it. And it’s not just with Snapdeal, there have been many other instances in the past with almost every e-commerce player.
In the end, you are left high and dry and your hard-earned money is at the mercy of the e-tailer’s discretion, should you not get what you intended to. There are also chances of you not getting a product at all if its a scam website.
Online shopping isn’t bad but there are a few things that you should keep in mind while you decide to make a purchase:
- Preferably buy from trusted sites. Always look out for sellers with good ratings. For example, on Flipkart opt for WS Retail and on Amazon buy products that are ‘Amazon Fulfilled’. More often than not, there shouldn’t be a problem with them.
- Make sure you read user reviews of that seller as well as the product.
- Since in India, grocers and vegetable vendors are at almost every nook and corner, its best to avoid buying perishables online.
- Saving your credit card details may save you a minute while placing an order but then you risk this sensitive information in case the portal ever gets hacked. I say opt for manually entering your card details always.
- When possible, opt for Cash-on-Delivery (COD) instead of making an advance payment, so you’re safe in case you don’t get your goods on time.
If you follow the above points then you will mostly have a pleasant experience. Happy shopping.
[box type=”shadow” ]Author Bio — Criselle Lobo is an Associate Editor at PriceBaba.com. She is an IT graduate who now spends most of her time writing on technology.[/box]