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Pune Speak Up: Is online retail the next boom?

Wednesday, 7 May 2014 - 8:31am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: dna

Market forecasters say that India’s online retail industry is set to increase multifold as existing players expand and new players join in. Is online retail becoming the future of buying-selling? How it will revolutionise the way we shop? dna finds out...
  • Market forecasters say that India’s online retail industry is set to increase multifold as existing players expand and new players join in. Is online retail becoming the future of buying-selling? How it will revolutionise the way we shop? dna finds out... dna dna Research & Archives

Online medium is not suitable for all product categories 
Online retail seems to be gaining a momentum. The number of delivery guys has visibly increased so do the advertisements. Whether online retail will revolutionise the way we shop will be an interesting scenario to watch for. It seems the primary buyers from online retailers are located in cities. Hence, the large portion of India’s population living in villages will not be the buyers for online retail at least in near future. Impulsive buyers will prefer buying from physical stores. For analytic buyers, online retail will provide numerous opportunities to analyse the shortlisted products. They will enjoy online buying since they also have a patience to wait for product delivery. The online retail will probably gain momentum in some specific product categories like electronic items. The online medium is not suitable for all the product categories. An important challenge for online retailers in India will be to provide excellent service. The online retail industry will provide tremendous opportunities to entrepreneurs in India. Online retailers will need to educate the customers on how to ‘effectively’ buy and sell online.
Sachin Mohan Bhide, marketing consultant

Many people have negative experiences like cheating, frauds
Online retail is giving best experience to end consumers by using variety of technology platforms from PC to mobile phones. Retail started with the era when consumers used to travel to shops for purchase and now people do it on cellphones. You can buy or sell anything from a pen to car with a few clicks. Companies like Amazon has taken it to the next level. They recently did a pilot test on drone delivery wherein drone delivers package from warehouse to end consumers without any hurdles. With technologies like 3D printing, in future people will be able to not only visualise but also feel the products before buying. This also helps in pushing more innovation in online banking and finance sector since they are the backbone of online retail industry. Though online retail is effective and efficient, there are some dark sides as well. Many people have negative experiences like cheating and frauds. Since it also involves online transactions, most of the people have concerns over privacy and security. In countries like India, most of the people are yet to adopt such things in their daily life due to various reasons. Even though online retail gives you discounts, it lags in giving the real feel of shopping. 
—Vikram Pendse, IT professional 

The experience of online shopping and real shopping is not same 
From the burgeoning trends in sales of online retail brands and even more the comfort of the buyers transacting online, the overall trust on online transactions has increased tremendously. Trust, of course, is the prerequisite of all exchanges, and when trust increases, so do the transactions. I think we are sitting on an inflection point of online retail. Naturally, the experience of online shopping and real shopping is not the same and brands are fast adapting to the needs of the online retailer. With most of online sale coming with a cash-on-delivery option also, every retailer wants to reduce returns. While in standard products like phones to refrigerators there is hardly any variation in products, items like clothing fitments etc. are taking a route to fulfillment. In the future, we will see the convenience of the shop coming to us, rather than us going to the shop.
—N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA (Trust Research Advisory)

It is surely going to become a trend which nobody can ignore
With proliferation of internet through several devices such as smartphone, tablets, laptops and standard computing devices, we have access to online shopping in most parts of India. Bandwidth availability is improving every year even in rural areas. Many think it is a good option for low or moderate value purchase. People use internet to do research and decide physical purchase for expensive items such as jewellery. Many online brands are being built with marketing and promotion with friendly business processes of purchasing. Online purchasers get to purchase at a lower price, as middlemen are getting eliminated. Even though cyber crimes are happening regularly, online users are not losing faith in the system. However, there is need to be more disciplined and adhere to online safety norms. Companies such as Flipkart, OLX are becoming household names. It is surely going to become a trend which nobody can ignore anymore. In future all conventional retailers will offer online as an option with a digital strategy. In addition, many new innovative e-tailing companies will emerge. Many new sectors such as education, skill upgrade, entertainment, healthcare, hospitality, real estate, automobiles, e-governance etc. will accept this new trend in near future. However, for a big jump in online retail we need strong support to regional languages and also blended shopping (combination of online offline) model.
—Deepak Shikarpur, co-chairman, IT committee, MCCIA 

One major advantage of online shopping and retail is better deals and offers
Online retail has taken the world by storm and players like Amazon have dominated the western market for years. With their recent expansion to India, they have already begun to make loyal customers in the country. Other big players are ensuring that the customers get better quality products at lower prices. One major advantage of online shopping and retail is better deals and offers. There are new deals coming out every week which cater to a host of products such as clothes, electronics, shoes, books, e-books, etc. With the option of looking at products from different angles which such sites offer, customers know exactly what to expect when they order a product. The mark of a good online shopping site is delivery of products which are of good quality so that the customer doesn’t have to take the effort to leave his house, travel to the shop, and make an over-the-counter purchase. Although such sites do not offer the option to touch and hold the product, they offer sufficiently professional services to ensure that the customer gets the best quality products. The drone facility, offered by Amazon in the US can deliver products to customers in a mere 30 minutes, almost as long as it takes to deliver pizza. As far as technology, services, customisation and customer satisfaction go; online retail seems to be the preferred choice for the majority of the population across the globe.
—Umeed Kothavala, CEO, Extentia Information Technology

The real growth in India will happen once they crack the mobile space
Online retailing has already shaped how we shop – even if we’re not buying via e-commerce stores, we’re definitely checking out products online, reading their reviews, and comparing prices. Existing players and new entrants are trying everything possible to make people more comfortable purchasing online, but I believe the real growth in India will happen once they crack the mobile space. There’s a larger demographic which has access to internet on their mobile devices than on desktops or laptops. Though the e-commerce companies do have mobile apps, I’ve found the experience very clunky and frustrating. Paytm, which has nailed the payment experience on mobile and earned the customers’ trust, recently introduced a marketplace on their mobile apps and definitely feels better to use than other shopping apps. OLX’s app allows its users to quickly take a photo using their mobile and upload an item to be sold – a far more convenient way than having to transfer the photo to a desktop and then create an entry. Of course, all these brands are heavily dependent on smartphone users, but with hardware prices falling rapidly, they’ll be seeing an increasing audience. 
—Sahil Khan, co-founder, DishoomIt

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