Increasing Voices For Online Shopping In India
If one was to make a list of the revolutionary innovations in the 21st century, online shopping would be a formidable competitor for the top spot. Online shopping, an aspect of e-commerce, has seen meteoric growth in terms of adoption. The reliance on brick-and-mortar stores for shopping has waned with the emergence of portals like Amazon, Flipkart, and others. After all, the convenience and comfort of making purchases in just a few clicks are unmatched.
So when did it all begin? While online transactions have been in existence since the sixties, the concept of online shopping we are familiar with took shape after the internet gained traction in the nineties. The same was the case in India. IndiaTimes, Rediff, and Sify were the early pioneers in the Indian e-commerce ecosystem. And this was around 1995. Did you know that a website sold groceries online in India way back in 1998? It was called Chennaibazaar. Were you aware that Fabmart, founded by K Vaitheeswaran, was the first Indian online platform to sell products? And that too in 1999. People might also remember Bazee.com, an online marketplace that was quite popular in the early 2000s. So you are way off the mark if you believe India was alien to the idea of online shopping at the start of the millennium.
The bond between online shopping portals and Indian buyers only becomes stronger with every passing day
However, it was the launch of Flipkart and Myntra (not on the scale we know them today) in 2007, Snapdeal in 2010, ShopClues in 2011, and Amazon's entry in 2012 as Junglee.com which set the cornerstone for the current e-commerce ecosystem in India. Flipkart set the ball rolling as confirmed by the statistics. India's e-commerce market was worth about $3.9 billion in 2009. According to a report by Avendus Capital, the Indian e-commerce market was estimated at $6.3 billion in 2011. It reached $12.6 billion in 2013 and $24 billion by 2015. And a study by Goldman Sachs pegs the industry to touch $99 billion by 2024. Impressive, isn't it?
What has driven this surge? Significant credit goes to the increase in the number of Indians who have access to smart phones, desktops, and laptops. In fact, India is the second-largest smartphone consumer behind China. More than 700 million people in the nation have their hands on a smart phone which makes it easier to stay in touch with e-retailers. The icing on the cake is the drastic reduction in mobile data rates. There was a point in time when people had to shell out significant cash to get their hands on just 100 MB of data. But with the entry of Reliance Jio, no one even heeds to mobile data packs that don't deal in gigabytes. Exhausting one GB of data per day is no big deal for Indians today. In a nutshell, the availability of technology has played a major role in connecting online shopping platforms with the masses.
The availability of mouth-watering discounts and promotions solidifies the craze for e-shopping in India. Would you visit the shopping mall and stand in long queues if there is a sale? Probably not when the same can be done without having to get up from the couch. And websites supplying promo codes and coupons make online purchasing even more enticing.
Another factor responsible for the surge is the presence of a massive product catalog under one roof. Want to shop for decor and then switch to electronics? No problem. One-click is all it takes. Now if one was to replicate the same with brick-and-mortar stores, it would mean the hassle of store-hopping. And what if the electronics showroom is miles away from the decor store? The troubles only surmount on top of one another. You don't face these issues with Amazon, Snapdeal, Myntra, etc.
The Indian Government also has been taking interest in the e-commerce setup of late. New initiatives and policies are being rolled out to assist the entities/organizations in the segment. Startup India, Digital India, and other flagship schemes are driving foreign direct investment (FDI) into the e-commerce segment.
Malpractices have also come to the fore during the period. Incidents of fraudulent delivery men, tampered packages (receiving a brick instead of an iPhone), and cunning customers who exploit the return policies affirm that online shopping is still far from reaching its zenith India in terms of perfection.
The bond between online shopping portals and Indian buyers only becomes stronger with every passing day. The brains behind these portals have developed a deep understanding of the Indian mindset and demographics over the last decade. All in all, there is immense scope for the growth of online shopping in India.