I love e commerce. I really do. It has made life easier for a lot of people. It has also created lots of job opportunities for a lot of people, B School grads and delivery boys alike. It has also taken away business from thousands of retailers, but that’s another story.
First came the bookstore, then came the deal merchants, followed by the recharge coupons and then came the tipping point. I am not an avid reader of books, but this one by Malcom Gladwell, titled ‘Tipping Point’ suggests how every trend, every industry sees a build up to a point after which it tips and spreads everywhere like wildfire. India has seen an e commerce revolution, and everyday there are many new players joining the bandwagon.
With time, the book merchant expanded, the deal model didn’t seem to be paying off, and well there was never going to be enough money in just phone recharges. So they all started selling, the same thing. Clothes to gadgets to kitchen appliances to unusable items, they all sell it all. Its like a Palika Bazaar out there, with everybody doing their best to lure you to their store. Logging on to the internet has become much like entering Palika Bazaar, whether or not you want something, there’s somebody selling you something. Some shout louder, some are more creative, but one way or the other, they all want to catch your attention and make you visit their site. Once at their store, you browse around, ask “Kitne ka doge?”, make up your mind and move ahead. They then try remarketing, with a sales boy chasing you offering better prices for the same deal. But you are a seasoned shopper. You go to another store, and the story continues before you finally put something in your kart at one store.
The merchants at Palika Bazaar are smart enough to give deep discounts and yet manage to earn a profit, thus making it a win win. E commerce brands on the other hand are concentrating right now on just making the customer win. 2013-2015 has truly been the years of discounts in India. From free frames to cash backs to free rides to even Onion being made available practically for free. While the going’s been great and we have many customers who’ve adopted online as their first preference while buying something, it might be time for companies to start concentrating on the part of making profits as well. The good part is that there have been healthy signs of etailers cutting down on deep discounting and rationalising costs, just hope to see more of it happen in the time to come.
As for the customers, well, there’s nothing an Indian loves more than getting a good discount :)
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