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June 7, 2012

Where's the "touch and feel" thing...!!

"The world is getting lazier, and a businessman knows how to take advantage of it."

Last Sunday when I was enjoying a fresh and cool morning walk, this statement dropped in my ears and stopped me. I turned around and saw two men gossiping. At this particular hour, normally I hear people talking about the politics, inflation, corruption, reality shows etc. every day. But today, the 'public-concern' seemed to be a little different than ever. I was in hurry so could not hear more of this conversation.

For some time, I forgot about the words, but the statement was still in my mind, "the world is getting lazier, and a businessman knows how to take advantage of it". The only connecting link I could find to understand the matter was "online businesses" frequently called as 'e-businesses'. I figured out that they were discussing regarding the evolution of the e-businesses in India and not to forget the word, 'critically'.

We all have always liked to go for shopping, purchase a lot of things and come back home with a tired yet happy face. But don't you think, the scenario is a little bit different now, people like to order online as many things as possible whether it's a Pizza, an air ticket, a railway ticket, a book or a t-shirt or anything else. No matter, how much time it will take to get delivered, but we do it, just because we like to sit on our benches and order for it with just one click.

Recently, I asked an online shopper, "why do you purchase online?" and he says, "It's easy and I don't have to go all the way to the market for buying it". Then I asked, "Do you shop everything online?" and he says, "What are you talking, no matter how convenient it is to shop online, most of the things I wouldn't buy, until and unless I see them in person". It made me realize one thing, "no matter how lazy we become, for us Indians, we like to 'touch and feel' whatever we are buying".

Frankly speaking, I am also a lazy guy. I like to do things with easiest possible way, yet I would not prefer to buy my clothes, shoes, cell phones, books, grocery or anything else, until and unless I try it myself. And I think, this is a typical case in India. People like to try things out, they like to "touch and feel" the product.

Probably this 'touch and feel' thing of the products has made it difficult for the online retailers to spread over their businesses. However, data is evident that people in India have started liking the e-model. Now people frequently book their train and air tickets, order Pizza, book movie shows, order novels and pay fees online. But I think, there's one thing in common, all of the things which are being ordered online, are mostly beyond the "touch and feel" specifications. For railway tickets or flight tickets, we don't really bother about how it will look and how I will look with it. For novels we don't need to check if the size is perfect or it smells nice. These things would be purchased in the same way, as they are being purchased online.

But, when it comes to Apparels, Accessories, Mobile phones, Furniture, or anything else, we really want to try them first before purchasing them. We like to see, touch and check them ourselves if it's a perfect match to our expectations. We like to try the shoes that we want to purchase whether it's of perfect size or not and whether it looks well in our feet or not. If it's a mobile, we wish to check its multiple functions/features by ourselves. All these items, where "touch and feel" is a must, we try to avoid an online purchase for any reasons.

India is a country where people like to see, touch and feel things and enjoy their true existence. And this indeed gives the e-businesses a reason to worry.

However, a wise businessman can never avoid taking calculated risks. He understands the market size and its dynamics perfectly. He knows how to change customer preferences, how to make a prospect a definite customer. And ultimately he knows how to answer his customers' queries no matter even if it is about the "touch and feel" as well. And todays' technology is trying all possible ways to help him. Recent researches with "Augmented Reality" features have opened up new amplitudes to the e-business prospects.

For us, today, it's hard to make an online purchase because we want to try things out first. But, are we sure, the scenario would remain the same after one year. Let's compare ourselves with our 'previous-years'. Our preferences are changing faster than what we realize. If we wish to know what's going to happen, well, there's just one thing we can do, "wait and watch...!!"