- Part 1: ecommerce in India – The Real Challenges?
- Part 2: Barriers to e-Commerce in India – Mediocre Payment Gateways
There are lots of misconceptions about internet users in India that run around. One example, consumer doesn’t shop on internet because it can’t negotiate on price. Let’s give it another thought. Have you worried about bargain at a petrol pump? Or may be at a store like Globus? No, and that’s because you know there is no need. They will quote the lowest price they can afford and they will not quote different individuals different prices. On internet, price of an item is same for all the users with shopkeeper selling at the best possible price which he can afford. He is aware of the fact that customer can’t and won’t negotiate and which forces him to keep lowest price possible. So even if you are used to bargain, there is no need to do that.
So ecommerce has not really taken off in India. Even after a decade of when it first started, people just don’t accept internet as a medium for serious shopping. In other parts of the world, people have been spending money online like they do in a grocery shop. But Indian internet user isn’t that enthusiastic and is definitely not at fault. In order to find the answers we have to look into what they have been offered till now.
ecommerce in India at present means marketplace portals which connect sellers and buyers. Although a good concept, the purpose gets defeated when user experience is not good. These stores have more become a medium for scams than anything else. You will see them selling iPod replicas using original iPod pictures, at higher price than that of Apple iPod.
They sell duplicate chocolates, watches and perfumes. These portals have virtually no control over the sellers which leaves users cheated in the end. It’s bad for the ecosystem altogether as cheated first time buyer turns out to be a last time internet buyer. Some of these big names even adopt deceiving practices especially to get visitors. I don’t know how many people were able to use the money back guarantee provided by some of the portals. User is unable to develop trust in their brand and he is right.
These portals have more adopted the style of those 30 minutes TV commercials being aired at non prime slots. Stuff they will sell is not what you are looking for, will not be found in local stores, will be of unknown brand and quality but still, they will sound as if they are giving you the best deal you would ever get on anything in your life. There is need of serious online retailers and not just auction portals or marketplaces. These will be people who can stand behind sales made from their sites and provide full customer satisfaction.
Interestingly, most of the big names for ecommerce in Indian space are part of a bigger umbrella which isn’t that innovative in web space. These companies leverage brand name and marketing from sister concerns and enjoy the high visitor count. With something coming in so easily, they don’t have to focus on a long term relationship with customers which will require significant efforts from their side. I would like to see statistics on how many people in India are repeat buyers and for what items. I fear there is no accumulated growth of the e-tailing in India because the portals couldn’t convert first time buyers into lifetime buyers. Most of the revenue might come from new buyers who will be absent next year.
All in all, the space is polluted and needs to be cleaned up. It’s not wrong kind of people trying to shop on the internet, it’s just wrong kind of people have set up those shops. Indian internet user trusts the internet shopping but it just doesn’t trust Indian Internet shops. And it’s definitely not because someone will misuse their card details, it’s because they don’t get value in terms of quality, price and service.
What are your expectations as an internet buyer?
Pic credit: @k@sh.
Notes from Ashish: Do check out this discussion on Review of Payment Gateways in India