Diwali- one of the biggest festivals in India was underway last week and possibly serves as the time when massive spending on shopping takes place. Amidst talks of a weak economy, slow down in terms of manufacturing and spends likely to go down, I saw a report on the fact that this festive Indian were high on shopping for high end consumer durable and smart phones and that most of this was through online purchases. Online shopping was up by 30% this year for Diwali against last year while foot falls at malls were up by 10%.
While I was writing about the slow death most malls in and around Mumbai were seeing, I had mentioned that the next big threat to malls was going to be a completely different form of shopping with the ‘Click to cart’ replacing the ‘Pick to cart’. While I was reading today that traditional retailers of electronic goods have filed in a petition to counter the online attack claiming online retailers selling at a loss, retail chains with spaces in malls definitely seem to be bearing the brunt of the internet savvy crowd moving away from the showroom outlets.
I have been a slow mover to the online shopping spree. My first online purchase might have been back in 2004 from bazee.com (now ebay India) where I got a 256MB Sony pen drive for about 900 bucks. At that point, I had no idea of online retail and was actually wondering how the ‘Buy Now’ option worked on a site which was known for bidding. I did not even have a credit card then and the transaction was done for me by a colleague.
As a contrast, I picked two pen drives of 4GB and 8GB with a combined cost of 600 bucks. I reserved online book purchases only for exclusive titles which I could not get pirated on the street or ones which I did not find in Crossword. I was astonished when a recent purchase of two books online was at 50% of the bookstore cost. I have now started exploring other avenues as well. Though my experience of a pair of dark glasses or an mp3 player some years back was not too encouraging, the same with shoes and earphones has been good so far.
So will I try foods or clothing next? Traditionally, these areas have been my choice for pick off the shelf as quality for things I eat or wear is of utmost importance to me. I have still not too much faith in the online system for performance oriented items which cost more than a thousand or things where touch, feel, demonstration and replacement still matter. But I don’t see that trend to last too long by the way things are going.
As for as I am concerned, paying for shipping is not a huge cost for items where reaching out, parking my vehicle and time spent in the activity are monetized. For all low value items; Click- is my shopping ka naya formula.