Where can you find a puppy, a roomie, a job, and spare auto parts with equal ease? Online of course! Online shopping is the prototype now and India has joined the bandwagon of a flourishing e-commerce business and this is pretty evident from the sky-rocketing numbers of internet users in the recent years. Whether you want to dress up for a date or own a vintage car, you'll find the most interesting items on various e-commerce portals.
The Indian market serves as the best place to initiate a robust online economy as shopping here usually means travelling in jam-packed public transport and paving your way through the swarmed market places. Therefore, online shopping has come as a major respite for consumers who can now experience shopping in the comfort of their homes or work places without standing for hours in serpentine queues.
E-commerce activity in India has grown phenomenally over the years and the internet penetration numbers have augmented tremendously. Today, India has more than 137 million internet users, which accounts for 10 percent of the country's population. However, according to a recent study by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), the market is expected to reach 330 million within a few years, making India the second largest customer base after China.
One of the major reasons behind this high success graph is the branching out of online retailing. Earlier, it was driven solely by travel businesses; but today the online retailing has entered many other sectors and opened itself to many verticals and niche segments. Advanced technology and the growing awareness about online shopping benefits are some other factors that have contributed to the success.
Factors that have contributed to its growth
Following is the list of things/phenomena that have played a major role in spreading online shopping within the country:
- Faster internet: Better broadband services like 2G and 3G have provided faster and better internet access to the consumers; thereby enticing them to spend more time online.
- Time saver: Unlike market places, one does not have to run around and spend tedious hours to pick up items scattered around the city. One can easily save time and choose items with a simple click.
- Cheaper rates and discounts: The exciting discounted rates and best deals on various products are profitable for the budget-conscious customers.
- Cash on Delivery (COD): This facility is available only in India and has come as a hassle free option for customers who are afraid to use debit/credit cards.
- Wider options: One is often spoiled for choices due to the plethora of options available on famous sites like shopping.rediff.com
- Home delivery and return policies: Convenient options like quick delivery and return policies within a certain time-period have gained much appreciation from the consumer base.
Most popular categories:
According to Google trends and research, Electronics (34%) top the list when it comes the most online searched product category. Apparels such as t-shirt and accessories (30%) come next in line. This is followed by Books (15%), Beauty and Personal Care (10%), Home and Furnishing (6%), Health Care (3%) and Baby Products (2%) in descending order.
According to the same sources, 74% people prefer paying through Cash on Delivery followed by Debit Cards (18%) and Credit Cards (5%).
A long way to the digital age:
Even though the e-commerce business is blooming well in the country, the market is not even a speck considering only 11 percent of the population uses it.
- Trust issues
Indian audiences often question the authenticity of many online sites. Many cases of hacking and security issues have bubbled up in the past, which has led to distrust amongst the customers. Moreover, they are not willing to share their financial information on these sites. Product quality and transparency is another issue, especially while buying costlier products like electronics and apparels.
- Technologically challenged
Many consumers in India are still not well versed with the technology and lag behind in proper usage of the internet; this has adversely affected the e-commerce phenomena in India.Their lack of knowledge on internet usage make online shopping the least preferred option by them.
However, the growth of e-commerce has a bright future in India despite all the little hurdles. The knowledge and awareness about internet is spreading around like wildfire and the number of internet users has elevated in large quantities irrespective of their age. Plus, there are a large number of great sites that are promoting to the growth of online shopping with its hassle free facilities.