Past-Present-Future of e-commerce in India

Mitul asked this question on LinkedIn. I am posting my answer.

Past-Present-Future of e-commerce in India.
E-commerce in India is at a very nascent stage compared to western world. However, if compared to last year, transactions have grown by over 1000% (or more) and my assumption is that the future is going to be even more exciting.

Railways & Airlines have played a major role in this. What is the next big thing that will take e-commerce to the next level?

My Answer
Hi Mitul,

I think the next wave is going to be commodity products. Something like Books. Things that you don't mind buying from any store, you would buy them online if the website gave you a discount. Other things that would fall under this category are computers (Dell), Stationary (OfficeTiger, Office 1 superstore) etc.

Fashion as mentioned by Heber might not work in India as we still want to touch and feel these products. In fact even when we go to a store, we spend hours deciding on the right fit and look. Its something innate to Indians. (am not sure about other cultures).

If I come across more, will update this.


I further updated the answer ...

Hi Mitul,

I dont know what would build the future. It's just that I put myself in customers shoes and figure out what would I want to buy online.

Talking about mobile phones, one reason why I dont think it would work is that we as Indians want to touch and feel a product a before we buy. With an online model am not sure if I can touch and feel a product.

Second we buy things from a trusted service provider rather than any random person. Websites are still not trusted parties for most Indians. I would pay a premium to buy something from a trusted shop and might leave the 5% discount that online sales get me.

Third a mobile phone is still 5000 bucks and this is above average amount for an average Indian. Spending this much means that stakes involved are high (might not be able to buy it some time soon in case it is faulty). Thus we go the extra step in making sure that decision is correct in the first place.

Hope this helps.
Warm Regards,

Anyone wants to share their opinions .. ?


Pd said...

a) StationAry?
b) I shop most of my stuff online. From electronics (ipod, laptop, phone, mobile phone, etc) to house goods (lamps, bed covers/sheets, wall hangings, etc) to just about anything that does not require fitting. I would buy clothes and shoes online too if I found one company that made clothes / shoes that fit me just perfect!!

e-commerce in India will flourish. If not much with ours, then definitely our kids' generation. Who would want to go out in the heat to haggle with the shopkeeper??

However, they need to make provisions for:
* identity privacy
* credit/debit card safety
* ease of return of non-satisfactory products
* low delivery charges
* detailed specs of everything. Basically the online profile of an item should answer all the questions that a consumer would ask a shopkeeper.

I feel 'touch' is no longer a huge factor. As long as the consumer is assured that they will get what they see on the site (WYSIWYG funda!), e-com is good to go places in India. Besides, we know how word of mouth plays a very very important role while shopping.

An afterthought - I know desi females who are dedicated Victoria's Secret shoppers. They have liked their products for ages now. VS does not have clothes in stores (only inner wear), so my friends buy clothes from the VS store online coz they know that VS uses good kapda and they will get their moolah's worth.

Pd said...

After after thought - With so many malls that have sprung up like mushrooms, an average consumer can not haggle with prices anymore. There is no 'chalo bahen ji aapke liye pachaas rupaye kum kar deta hoon' factor left. The consumer will soon realize (if there are trusted sites available to shop from) that there is no point in spending time, money and fuel going to the mall to buy stuff. Jab wahee daam hume wahan jaa ke mile to koi online kyon na shop kare? Who would carry the 'samaan' from the parking garage to the elevator? Besides, mall mein parking milna mushkil hai aur parking ke paanch rupaye lagte hain...

Will write more if I have an After - after After Thought!!

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