Ages ago, while on the yearly holiday to India, I came across an advertisement on Television. It was about an old woman and her pet mouse. Whenever the lady needed new books, she would click on her mouse and books would magically appear on her doorstep. The advertisement was for one of the first e-commerce sites in India, Flipkart. A lifelong bookworm, this advertisement captured my attention. In UAE, buying books was an expensive proposition, which is why I had joined a library for my regular quota of books. But the small towns where I used to spend my holidays in India had very few bookstores. On top of that, the selection of books available used to be limited. I decided to check out Flipkart’s website and was impressed by the range of books available on the website. Still, unsure of shopping online, I resisted the lure of buying books until a trip to Goa left me with a fractured foot and housebound for three weeks. Driven out of my mind with boredom, I turned to Flipkart for distraction. With a click of a button, Flipkart offered thousands of books, many more than my local (and due to broken foot, inaccessible) bookstore could. Moreover, the option of Cash-On-Delivery, meant I could wait till I received my books before paying. I ordered books from Flipkart and was hooked for life. Flipkart’s quick service matched my reading speed. In those three weeks, Flipkart’s delivery agent could be seen in front of our house every day dropping off a packet of books. Just like magic!
It was the start of my love affair with e-commerce, and I became an advocate for online shopping.
Food, books, groceries, vegetables, clothes, electronics, medicines, anything and everything, is available online for purchase. With the pandemic raging for the past two years and mobility restrictions, e-commerce has become more of a necessity. People who were earlier staunch traditional shoppers are also dipping their toes into the e-commerce world. Brick-and-mortar stores, sensing the shift in the air, are also upgrading to the e-commerce world, to make their products accessible to consumers.
From a consumer’s point of view, many benefits are offered by e-commerce.
Variety And Accessibility Of Products. E-commerce gives the consumers freedom to choose from thousands of products. In most of the small towns, shops usually offer a limited selection to the buyer to choose from. On e-commerce websites, consumers have the option to choose from a variety of products at their fingertips. Moreover, these products are not restricted to a particular area but are from all over the country. This, in turn, increases the accessibility of products for the consumers. With the help of e-commerce, it is now common-place to order items from India to various parts of the world. This, in turn, increases the market for Indian goods and makes Indian products available for ex-pats who long for home.
Convenience. Shopping over e-commerce platforms can take place at any time of the day and anywhere. A consumer does not need to wait till the markets open, brave the traffic and battle through crowds to purchase what they want. Most of the e-commerce platforms have their own mobile apps too. These simple, easy to use apps eliminate the need for laptops etc. This, in turn, makes it easy for the consumer to choose and buy products through them. With attractive payment options, like e-wallets, and saved cards, the purchases can be made with just one click. If the consumer doesn’t trust online payment, then the option of Cash on Demand (or COD) is also there.
Attractive Pricing. Indian consumers have always been price-sensitive, a fact, well understood by e- platforms. E-commerce platforms offer products at prices that are more attractive to consumers. They might also offer combination deals to lure consumers. Most of the e-commerce platforms, also give rewards points. Reward points can be converted to cash for future payments. One of the underlying reasons, why Flipkart’s Big Billion Days and Amazon’s Prime Day sale are so eagerly looked forward to, are massive discounts available on these dates.
Promoting Crafts and Craftspeople. One cascading effect of e-commerce is that it offers a platform for craftsmen to sell their products to all corners of the country. With the help of e-commerce, one can order a Kullu Shawl from a craftsman in Manali while sitting on a sofa in Chennai. E-commerce helps in extending the reach of craftsmen to all corners of the country. At the same time, e-commerce helps consumers in accessing genuine products, that might not be traditionally available in their part of the country. By providing a platform to the craftsmen, e-commerce helps in building the economy of areas that might not have access to traditional markets. E-commerce has helped provide economic independence to women and down-trodden elements of society.
Niche Platforms. While everyone is aware of the big e-commerce platforms like Flipkart and Amazon, certain e-commerce platforms stick to a niche. For example, Zivame for lingerie, Myntra for clothes, Nykaa for cosmetics, iTokri for crafts and Postcard for food. These niche platforms provide the buyer with highly specialized quality products.
This post has been written as part of Blogchatter’s campaign #ECommerceBuildsEconomy Campaign
Psst . My first book “Xanadu: Three Souls Searching For Their Paradise” is available on Amazon, do check it out!