Ecommerce industry will only prosper in times ahead. India’s leading ecommerce portal Flipkart will supposedly make 10000 re-sellers Millionaires in 2015 as opposed to 2000 in 2014 and it is not the only one. As our lives get busier, we will be more dependent on these online marts. Indian ecommerce industry will reportedly grow to 20 billion in 2015. Since more of you will be purchasing from online portals, let’s take a look at some advantages and disadvantages.
Benefits of Online Shopping
The fast growth of ecommerce in India in itself supports the claim that it is a win win situation for everyone. Here are some advantages.
Convenience of Home
The basic concept of online shopping is the convenience of purchasing good from your home. The most significant thing you save is your time. Laying on your bed, just with a few clicks you can browse through lavish variety, compare different items and buy them.
With online shopping, you can buy rare products which might not be easily available on offline stores. Snapdeal has recently partnered with India post to bring thousands of weavers and artisans from Varanasi to online store. Flipkart and Amazon have also started working on similar lines. This gives shoppers across nation a unique opportunity to buy specialty products with ease. This will also help in uplifting the economic standard of our talented artisans by providing them more exposure.
This particular benefit is mostly useful while purchasing gadgets. If you buy a smartphone, you might realize only after a few days that a particular feature isn’t working. The call quality might not be up to the mark or perhaps there might be an annoying software bug.
With stores like Flipkart offering up to 30 days return policy, you get the time to thoroughly inspect your gadget and return and try another model if you are even one bit dissatisfied. Most brick and mortar stores will divert you to service centers in such cases.
Most online retailers sell for a bit cheaper as compared to other brick and mortal stores. Online retailers can afford to sell at lesser prices as they don’t have to incur overhead and distribution cost. Users can also compare from different brands and compare prices for the same product across different stores and buy at the lowest possible price.
Sometimes quality of product online is better. For example if you want to buy a new smartphone, you can get better hardware and experience for lower price with online exclusive devices like Moto G, Xiaomi phones, Yureka, etc. This benefit however is mostly limited to purchase of smartphones as the smartphone market these days is highly competitive.
Disadvantages of Online Shopping
Besides these advantages, there are some negatives to online shopping as well.
No Hands on Experience
The biggest drawback of online shopping is that you can’t actually see or feel whatever it is that you are buying. You have to rely on online images and reviews. This can translate into a huge drawback when buying clothes and other such good which you can’ touch and feel.
The objects can appear very different from their polished images on online stores. This also means you can never be fully sure unless your friend has ordered the same product.
We often hear reports of warranty claims being denied to those who have purchased goods online. A survey conducted by MySmartPrice reveals that about 54 percent online smartphone purchases were denied warranty. This is a huge number, although the survey also revealed that only 1.59 claimed warranty and most users in metro cities could easily avail warranty on their purchases.
Limitations of Return Policy
You are allowed to return defective product but you cannot return a product just because it turned out different from what you had expected. You cannot exchange it for a different product with the same approximate cost. This is something most offline retailers will permit you to do for most products. Since users have no prior hands on experience with products, the probability of being stuck with an unwanted product are more in online shopping.
Sometimes retailers can deliberately screw up your order. Let’s take a look at some interesting cases.
– Mumbai based Laxminarayan Krishnamurth got a soap bar instead of Samsung Galaxy Core 2 that he ordered. Four days after his complaint got viral on Facebook, Snapdeal apologized and offered a refund
– Pune based darshan Kabra got a pack of stones instead of Apple iPhone 4S
– Recently Mumbai based Nitin Chhabria received a cheap heater instead of MacBook Pro he ordered
– Flipkart repeatedly delivered empty pendrive boxes to a customer three times in a row
– Several users have also complained about getting second hand, used or duplicate goods after paying for brand new products.
Some precautions you should practice:
1) Buy from trusted sites and carefully check for return policy before you place your order
2) Read reviews from certified buyers before you make up your mind
3) Prefer buying branded products
4) Whenever possible opt for cash on Delivery as payment option.
On the whole, benefits of online shopping outweigh its drawbacks. If you practice some precautions there are good chances of landing a great deal. But for good you can’t afford to screw up, for instance your wedding shopping, it would be a good decision to stick to offline stores.