E-commerce giants and niche websites are wooing customers to log in and splurge
When American writer Erma Bombeck said that the odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one, she knew how prone human beings are to impulsive shopping. Cut to 2023 and all the spending drama has shifted online what with e-commerce portals placing lower priced buys near checkout and displaying impulse products near your high demand items. It all started during the Covid 19 pandemic when consumers and businesses moved towards virtual shopping in a big way. And the trend has strengthened over the years owing to its many benefits.
The best perk is ease. Extolling the virtues of online stores, 27-year-old Delhi based journalist Nivedita Nangia says, “Where else would you easily shop whilst in your pajamas at night? There are no queues standing in or purchase assistants waiting to help you with your orders, and you can make your orders in minutes. You can buy around the clock, and the purchasing experience leaves ‘no emissions.”
According to a recent study conducted by Nielsen Media, consumers across India are bullish, excited and more eager-than-ever to shop online during this festive season. 81% indicated strong sentiment and intent; 78% trust online shopping and 1 in 2 intend to increase online spending, compared to last festive period. Consumers expect a wide selection, unmatched value with competitive pricing, plus convenience of easy returns and exchange, which is driving the core online shopping experience.
But behind the obvious gains, there are some red flags which experts point out, one should be wary of. What should the customer be cautious of when shopping online? First of all, the customer should know that marketplaces may be different from brand owned stores, says Arvind K Singhal, Founder & Chairman of Technopak Advisors, a retail consultancy. This means what you may get at say a Marks and Spencer store may be different from what you may get at an Amazon store listed as Marks and Spencer. Says Singhal “There is risk of products being fake, as there are sellers and resellers who sell products with reduced quality. In fact, in the world of e-commerce there are many companies who launch separate sets of products meant only for the online medium esp clothing, footwear, home textiles segment. At the same time, you may bag a great deal online esp in grocery and food but in lifestyle products, the probability of lower quality of the same brand or fake product by reseller is high.” But then how to navigate this negative of online shopping.
Experts feel it is safe to buy from sellers with good ratings. Says Technopak’s Arvind Singhal, “Also greed should not overtake common sense. If you are getting a fragrance for Rs 8,000 at Shoppers Stop and the same thing for Rs 3,000 at Amazon, pls use your brain and discretion. How can that be a genuine product with so much price gap.”
What’s on offer this festive season. Amazon India gets ready with the Amazon Great Indian Festival 2023 starting October 8. Their steal deals are on gadgets and gizmos, especially Amazon devices. Customers can get up to 55% off on Echo smart speakers, Fire TV devices, Kindle e-reader, and Alexa smart home combos. On offer are smartphones starting from Rs 5,699 with 5G mobiles from Rs 8,999, electronics and accessories starting from Rs 99 and some home and kitchen items starting from as low as Rs 49. There is discount of 65% on appliances, 60% on TVs and 50-80% off on fashion and beauty brands, besides upto 18 months no cost EMI on mobiles, TVs, appliances, laptops, electronics. Some of the key brands where you can expect offers on Amazon India include the likes of Samsung, OnePlus, iQOO, LG, Sony, boAt, Intel, Tissot, Fastrack, Tommy Hilfiger, Wipro, Eureka Forbes, Asian Paints, Gillette. According to Manish Tiwary, Vice President & Country Manager, India Consumer Business, Amazon, “We are geared-up to bring ‘boxes of happiness’ to our customers pan India and offer them a wide selection, unmatched value and convenience of shopping from anywhere, anytime along with an array of payment options and in language of their choice. Customers will get access to thousands of new launches from leading brands, and lakhs of sellers across India. Our teams, including our delivery associates are excited to make Amazon Great India Festival 2023 the biggest ever for millions of customers across Bharat. From Amazon Live to new product launches and exciting deals and offers, Amazon Great Indian Festival this year promises to be an outstanding one for our customers and sellers. What’s more the customers can shop in your preferred language: Customers can shop in 8 languages of their choice which includes English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bangla, and Marathi.”
The demand this season will be fuelled by not just the metros but smaller cities. “The festive season is going to see phenomenal growth opportunities fuelled by tier 3+ regions,” says Abhishek Bansal, Co-Founder and CEO, Shadowfax, a logistics company. He adds that in the past year, Shadowfax has invested in large pickup centres in cities like Lucknow, Surat, Ludhiana, Sagar, to name a few. Their largest centre launched ahead of festive sales in Surat exemplifies this opportunity.”
Affordable shopping platforms like Meesho are also ready with offers. “Beginning on October 6th, the Meesho Mega Blockbuster Sale aims to fulfill the festive shopping aspirations of billions of Indians,” says Megha Agarwal, CXO, Growth at Meesho. She adds that ahead of the festive season, Meesho has launched an innovative loyalty program on their platform, created to benefit both customers and sellers, and they have launched Meesho Gold which will include a vast selection of trusted quality products across categories such as ethnic Wear, jewelry as well as home and kitchen. According to a leading seller on Meesho Sandeep and Rishi Singh, founders of Zevar House, “During the festive season, we are expecting an increase in the demand for our products on Meesho such as fancy jewellery and accessories as people across the country look to celebrate with their loved ones. To ensure that we are able to fully take advantage of this opportunity, we are investing in hiring seasonal workers who will help us with manufacturing, packaging and sorting for our products. In addition to this, we are also ramping up our inventory to meet the surge in demand, ensuring that our customers have access to a wide selection of festive jewellery and accessories.”
Certain platforms such as Meolaa, an e-commerce platform for sustainable shopping are propagating the ideas of “Shop Local” and “Combine shipments.” Says Meolaa spokesperson, “Shop Local” promotes economic growth, sustainability, and a strong sense of community, fostering a more vibrant and interconnected local ecosystem. “Combine Shipments” encourages consumers to be mindful of their online shopping habits by planning ahead and ordering multiple items from their preferred store in a single transaction. This approach has several benefits, including reducing the environmental impact associated with multiple deliveries, such as packaging waste and carbon emissions from transportation. It also helps save on shipping costs, as many retailers offer discounts or free shipping for larger orders.”
Snapdeal’s “Toofani Sale – Festive Dhamaka,” will start on October 8 and run until October 15. Shoppers can enjoy discounts of up to 90%, including 50%-90% off on various products. Fashion and beauty items take the spotlight with over 50,000 styles and top brands at up to 60% off, plus an extra 20% discount.
What should the customer do to make the most of it. According to the Snapdeal Spokesperson, “To make the most of Snapdeal’s festive sale, customers should follow a few essential steps. Firstly, they should download the Snapdeal App and ensure they do this between the evening of October 7th and October 15th. This App is the gateway to all the fantastic deals and offers. Additionally, it’s essential to activate app notifications and keep them turned on. By doing so, customers will receive timely alerts on daily deals and special offers. This ensures that they stay updated and don’t miss out on any exciting opportunities during the sale. By downloading the app on time and staying connected with notifications, customers can fully enjoy and take advantage of all the incredible discounts and deals available during Snapdeal’s festive sale.” He adds that this festive season, “we’re putting the spotlight on Fashion and Beauty, offering over 50,000 styles and top brands. Don’t miss Rangita’s special festive wear collection, designed exclusively for women, starting at just INR 300. We’ve gone the extra mile by introducing new assortments, vibrant design and high-quality fabrics to ensure both comfort and style. Plus, we’ve given our app a complete makeover, enhancing the visual interface to showcase products more effectively and keep you ahead of the curve with exclusive offers and deals.”
What is new at Flipkart? They are introducing features such as ‘Virtual try on’ and a new ‘Brand Mall’ experience to make shopping for fashion and lifestyle categories more exciting and create an immersive experience for the shopper. One-to-one video assistance feature, that enables customers to have real-time video conversations with skilled sales associates for personalized recommendations. The feature has been introduced to bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping experiences by offering one-on-one expert guidance and tailored recommendations The Flipkart Big Billion Days 2023 will be live for every shopper from 8 to 15 October, with early access for Plus customers on 7 October. Says Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO – Flipkart Group, said, “The Big Billion Days this year is a special one, not just for Flipkart, but for the entire ecosystem, as we step into this milestone 10th year. This growth story is one that transcends across our growing seller network, MSMEs, brands, kirana partners and Samarth programme – creating numerous jobs and promoting inclusion in the digital economy at large.”
Food hampers are a big draw for online purchase. From essential groceries to the finest dry fruits, Citymall is an e-commerce platform solving exclusively for the needs and aspirations of Bharat’s next 500 million online shoppers, who are currently mostly shopping offline, especially for their grocery needs. Says Angad Kikla, Founder, CityMall, “Navratri and Diwali are major consumption periods for our consumers and given CityMall stands for providing the best savings for our consumers, our much-awaited festive sale is starting from October 7th, with a spectacular lineup of launches, offers and discounts, that would make shopping irresistible. We are launching a new ‘Bumper Lottery Deals (BLD)’, where you get the best price available anywhere online or offline, through everyday new deals across various product categories, be it in groceries such as cooking oil, dry fruits, pulses, packaged food, beverages and across other categories such as fashion, footwear, bedsheets, kitchen utensils, small appliances and much more. This gives the customer a chance to get a new deal on a new product every day till Diwali. Our CityMall enthusiasts can stock up on their kitchen essentials such as sugar at a sweet steal deal at just Rs 29 per kilogram and cooking oil will be an absolute bargain starting at Rs 89 per litre.”
At Amala Earth, the festival sale starts early for all conscious consumers to stock up on purposeful gifts, conscious fashion for men, women and children, eco-friendly pooja essentials, clean makeup and beauty products, artisanal home décor and more. The earth-friendly Festive Sale is from 17th to 22nd October 2023. Shoppers can enjoy upto 60% + extra 20% off. Says Gunjan Jindal Poddar, Founder, Amala Earth, “It’s the perfect opportunity for consumers to make festivities all about tradition followed with mindful and eco-friendly practices. Product categories range from mindful eating to eco-friendly fashion; from handcrafted home décor to pooja essentials in natural materials; from chemical-free beauty products to natural home cleansers, there’s lots more to explore on www.amala.earth. The emphasis is on unique products like organic linen dohars, bedcovers and tablecloths; mulmul curtains; mango wood and teak wood tableware; kansa dinnerware; cast iron cookware; Ayurvedic cosmetics; pure cow’s milk ghee; handwoven sarees; cotton and linen co-ord sets; wooden and crochet toys; plantable stationery; bamboo towels; coconut shell serveware; brass puja thalis; soy wax and beeswax candles.”