Online shopping sees a whopping rise this festive season

by Sohini Bagchi    Nov 01, 2013

online shopping

This Diwali and in the ongoing festive season, there has been a whopping rise in online shopping in India. E-shopping has witnessed a 65% increase in 2013 in comparison to last year, especially for products like mobile phones, e-tablets, consumer electronics, home appliances, home decor, furnishings, and apparels, finds out a recent Assocham report. The online shopping market is estimated at Rs 52,000 Crore and is growing at 100% per year, states the report, suggesting that retailers can continue to leverage this opportunity big time in the coming quarters.

 The e-shopping advantage

Online retailers are offering huge discounts and interesting deals in almost all product verticals. According to online retailers, the general buying trends this festive season is towards electronics, home décor, furniture, jewelry, apparel and footwear.  

“With the rise of online retail websites, shopping on ground has clearly taken a back seat,” mentions Assocham general secretary D S Rawat. He believes that apart from convenience, rising fuel price, security reasons, online discounts and availability with abundance of choice is keeping customers hooked to the internet.

“The shopping trend is going through a major shift with the advent of the online marketplace. customers get many brands at one place and in a greater variety. In fact, people now visit showrooms only to ascertain the product they want and then they order it through the e-commerce sites to get hefty discounts,” says entrepreneur and online strategist Aparupa Patowary.

Patowary also believes that the rising social media awareness and internet penetration in smaller towns and cities is driving the online shopping pattern.

The other driving factor is the proleferation of mobile devices. Indian online shoppers prefer shopping on mobiles and the trend is very clear this season. eBay India’s recent mobile commerce study in October 2013 has revealed that 78% shoppers prefer shopping on mobiles to get great deals on purchases and 60% shopped on mobiles to save fuel, parking charges and long queues. mode. Samsung with 44% of the votes is the most popular device for mobile shopping, followed by Sony (12%) and Nokia (10%). The most popular shopping browser remains the default Android browser (79%), followed by Safari on iOS (9%) and IE on Windows (6%). Experts believe mobile commerce enables consumers to check prices on their mobile and making purchases after comparing prices.

Evolving ecosystem

Experts believe the online retail market has matured over the years with many big and small players entering the ecosystem. Many online shopping portals like Flipkart, Jabong, Snapdeal, eBay, Indiatimes are racing ahead while fiercely competing with each other.

Apart from the pure play online retailers, this year, a number of organized retail players are seeking profitability in the online space. Future Group online channel for its electronics retail chain ezone has garnered huge sales this festive season. Last month, Future Retail launched Big Bazaar Direct, an e-commerce-enabled direct selling business for its flagship hypermarket Big Bazaar. Reliance Retail is also entering the e-commerce space soon.

“In the past one and a half years, transactions online have increased tremendously, while physical stores are unable to compete on the price, speed and quality of customer service with online retailers,” says Gaurav Issar, Co-Founder of JewelsNext, a Delhi based online jewelry company that has adopted a marketplace model. He believes that to succeed in this marketplace, online retailers should have state-of-the-art IT infrastructure and a sound warehouse management system for effective logistics and deliveries.

In the next one year, Issar’s JewelsNext plans to make strategic investments in the areas of social engagement, mobile technologies and analytics to serve customers more effectively.

Security alert

Despite the growing popularity and convenience of online shopping, experts point out that the security factor should be taken seriously in the new marketplace. That’s because the online marketplace is turning out to be an easy hunting ground for cybercriminals. According to Symantec, this festive season, third-party mailers and spammy websites are on the rise. These spammy websites eventually shift their gear to phishing, where the user falls into the trap of paying for chosen items in the cart with their debit/credit card details.

According to Ritesh Chopra, country manager, Norton by Symantec, ”Customers should avoid shopping at unknown websites and be careful while they ‘click’ and do their payments. This is especially true for mobile users who often use unsecured smartphones and mobile devices to shop online and use third party online shopping applications that can infect it with malware.”

“The online marketplace is slowly evolving and therefore this segment needs to be tackled more carefully to avoid falling into the hands of cybercriminals,” he says.

A huge potential

Despite the security pitfalls, e-commerce shopping will continue to witness a phenomenal growth this Diwali and beyond. The considerable rise in the number of internet users, growing acceptability of online payments, the proliferation of internet-enabled devices and favorable demographics are the key factors driving the growth story.

The number of users making online transactions has been on a rapid growth trajectory, and it is expected to grow from 11 million in 2011 to 38 million in 2015. Mobile transactions are also expected to witness a whopping rise in the coming months.