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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...!!"

Comments

Nice article Vinay. I would like to bring the attention to the latest advertisement by Flipkart.com - "Shopping ka naya address - Three Generations". This is significant how eRetailers are trying to attract the customers.

With the ease of technology, the world for sure is getting smaller. For those who struggle with their busy routine and in hands with the technology, e-shopping is catching its strength. It comes up as an easy way to shop for certain things as mentioned above and to send gifts sitting away miles even across different counties.

But for us, specially girls, shopping is not just about doing a purchase. Its more of a fun activity. Going around in groups, exploring different makets, stopping at every street chat junction, doing lots of window shopping, bargaining for the price and finally settling for a stuff.

Though convinient, but the trend of e-shopping can never replace the pleasure of real shopping.

Thanks a lot Ruturaj.
This live example truly gives an idea about how ebusinesses have started using the conventional marketing tools. they are not just relying on the internet media now, they are expanding dimensions to capture a larger market segment..

Thanks a lot for the comment sonica.
That's really a nice view point. I specially liked your comment on "pleasure of shopping". it's actually something that binds us all with the brick and mortar retail. let's see how far we go with it... :)

I recently purchased a shoe from myntra.com. I think that they have catered to this Indians' "touch & feel" thing very well.
I had also this doubt what if size of the shoe they deliver is not appropriate. But they returned the shoe and delivered a larger size shoe next day only.

And I think its not just myntra, other online retailers also are catereing to this issue because of the huge size of Indian online buyers market which will only increase as more and more children growing in this IT era enters shopping age.

Hi Rohit, Thanks a lot for sharing your experience.
You have rightly mentioned one of the best practices that the e-businesses are following to cater to every thing what we need. I think they are able to put pretty successful efforts towards changing preferences for the time being, and later I believe the scenario would change faster than it's changing today. let's see what's in there... :)

Another reason for increase in online shopping could be rise in petrol prices and heavy traffic on the roads. For many people who want to avoid the above e-shopping is a good option since it is better to have one delivery vehicle that to have 10 vehicles to the malls.

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