New Delhi: You know online shopping has come of age in India when gold prices dip and coins are immediately made available in virtual stores to target not just the hip and tech savvy but also the traditional, hidebound homemaker who would otherwise head for the trusted family jeweller.
The sudden dip in prices of gold has seen a rush of sorts for the yellow metal online. Websites like Jabong.com and Snapdeal.com have tied up with popular jewellery retail outlets to sell gold coins of different weights – as less as two grams and as much as 50 grams.
“Since gold prices witnessed a steep fall, both demand and sale have gone up significantly in the last week. As gold prices crash, it becomes a good investment opportunity,” Mukul Bafana, co-founder of Jabong.com, told.
From gold and that “oh-so-beautiful dress” to the latest book just out in the US and even toiletries, this really is India’s virtual age. A barrage of portals have made life easier for online shoppers with virtual stores, try-and-buy deals, EMI schemes and fluid return policies.
So it is that popular sites like Jabong.com, Myntra.com, Yebhi.com, Snapdeal.com, Flipkart.com and HomeShop18.com are fast pulling shopaholics away from traditional brick-and-mortar stores and helping them order in – from home, from offices or even on the move.
It appears to be a win-win situation for all.
The online retail market in India is expected to grow to Rs.70 billion (over $1.30 billion) by 2015 from the Rs.20 billion in 2011 as internet access improves, according to an Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) survey.
“I leave home at 9 a.m. and reach back at 9 p.m. Apart from the weekend, there’s no time to even buy any toiletries! So, I end up ordering online, and I even get good discounts which I don’t get at my kinara shops,” Anupama Thakur, a 24-year-old marketing trainee, told IANS.
Technology, especially in terms of smartphones and tabs and with websites offering virtual trial rooms and good quality pictures of products, as well as easy policies have simplified the lives of online shoppers.
If you were apprehensive about how you’d look in a particular spectacle frame or in a certain piece of jewellery, virtual trial rooms on certain sites give users a choice to upload their picture and see how the chosen product looks on them.
What’s more, you can see the product when it arrives, send it back for an exchange or even get your money back. Also, if you’re wary of using your credit card, most sites offer a cash on delivery option.
“We have an open box delivery where the customer can open the box and check the contents of the package,” said Bafana.
“The customer can even try the product and is free to return it if there is any size difference or if the customer thinks that the product is different from what he or she saw online,” he added.
This is really helpful for risky products like lingerie, where you can go horribly wrong with the size. Zivame.com lets its customers to avail of the exchange offer, said its CEO Richa Kar.
Most sites offer a 30-day return policy, but there are also sites like Shopnineteen.com, which has a 15-day no-questions-asked return policy, enabling users to return a product without giving a definite explanation or spending a single penny, said its CEO Narinder Mahajan.
And for those who find certain products unaffordable, there are sites offering three months, six months and even 12 months easy monthly instalment (EMI) schemes.
As a concept, online shopping is said to have started with the launch of Amazon.com in 1995. In India, the trend started catching up in 1999, but gained momentum only over the past five years.
The product line available is huge – vegetables, cosmetics, shoes, bags, furniture, jewellery, electronics, books, CDs, toys, clothes and more.
The emergence and popularity of online shopping in small towns is fuelling the growth.
“People in small cities and towns are opening up to the idea (of online shopping) and there lies tremendous growth,” said Kartik Sapra, owner of begin101.com.
“With the emergence of online shopping, youth in smaller towns and cities now have access to latest products and brands that are not available locally, hence giving them the opportunity to shop via new channels for these products,” said Bafana.
By: Aditi Chandra (IANS)