Retailers Or E-Tailers: What’s Your Choice This Diwali?

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We don’t have to go way back in time to see the evolution of what has now spread all over the web – E-commerce!

E-commerce or the online shopping scheme has brought down political and physical barriers giving everyone in the world an equal playing ground in the market.

How did it start?

Online shopping became popular during the internet boom in 1999-2000. Amazon, the online bookstore founded by Jeff Bezos, created history by becoming the first bookstore with an online presence. Following the success of Amazon, many brick-and-mortar bookstores also created their online portals. Later, websites such as yahoo.com and msn.com also started online shopping channels where people could buy more than just books. Closer home, portals such as indiatimes.com and rediff.com came up with similar options for the Indian consumer. Then in 2005, website giant Ebay acquired bazee.com. Then came Flipkart in 2007 which nobody had expected would rise to the top in the Indian market. Today, hundreds of online portals are created at an ever-growing pace.

Now almost anything can be purchased online— starting with clothes or shoes to television sets and refrigerators, cell phones and even ringtones for cell phones, railway and air tickets, even groceries can be bought online.

With the ever growing demand of online products, the shopping experience in India is set for a big Diwali boost. Recently a survey was conducted by industry body Assocham, which estimates that the total value of online shopping is likely to jump 350 percent amounting to over Rs. 10,000 crores this Diwali season. The huge price discounts by e-tailers and better accessibility of internet, particularly through smartphones, have drastically increased online sales.

The growing popularity of online shopping however could result in 50-55 percent lower footfalls in shopping malls this festive season. It is a sight that’s becoming increasingly common across electronic and mobile phone stores – the customer walks in, checks out the product, its price, and then flips open his smartphone and logs on to an e-tailer’s website to check the online price. And more often than not, finds the price offered by e-tailers to be much more attractive. The online discount euphoria has hijacked the Diwali rush from retail showrooms this year, and not surprisingly, the mood in markets is distinctly downbeat.

According to the survey titled “Indian Online Retail Sales Surge in Festive Season” which was conducted in 10 cities– Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh and Dehradun. Delhi-NCR has recorded the highest decline of 50 percent, in footfalls at city malls. Delhi is followed by Ahmedabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

Online retailers have launched many promotional schemes to lure shoppers during the festive season. There has been nearly a five-fold increase in revenue generated through e-commerce as compared to last year.

The brick-and-mortar retailers however cannot match the prices offered by e-tailers as they have higher overhead costs. The days leading up to Diwali have traditionally been bumper days for them but the excitement is missing this time around.

Ratanpriya Sharma

Image Source [http://cdn.techpp.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/flipkart-cyber-sale.jpg]