Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying

Sudha Nagaraj Bharadwaj, Journalist | 1/15/2013 | 13 comments

Sudha Nagaraj Bharadwaj
E-commerce is picking up in India. In 2012, it boasted revenues of $14 billion up from $6.3 billion in 2011, with revenues expected to reach $34.5 billion in 2015.

Footwear and branded apparel were the most-searched items and showed a year-over-year growth of 71 percent and 56 percent respectively, according to the Internet Economy Watch Report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI).

As if on cue, e-tailers were quick to organize India's version of the US marketing gimmick, Cyber Monday. On December 12, 2012, more than 50 e-commerce sites offered discounts up to 70 percent on apparel, electronic gadgets, and travel destinations at a global online shopping festival.

Much of that online shopping is being done with mobile devices. IMAI predicts that India will have 130.6 million mobile Internet users by March 2014. In December 2012, the country had 87.1 million mobile Internet users. In October, there were 78.7 million mobile users who had accessed the Internet in the past month.

Google Trends, a study of search strings through 2012, revealed that "on-line shopping" was the most searched term in Karnataka, in addition to "online recharge" and Flipkart, a Bangalore-headquartered company e-tailer. States with fewer offline retail outlets like Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya, Jammu & Kashmir, Orissa, and Pondicherry also searched for "online shopping" most.

To cash in on this nascent market, CIOs of online retail need to track and understand how a customer makes purchases. But that is easier said than done. Consumers use a variety of devices to research, compare prices, make inquiries, and finally make a purchase. For instance, the search for a tablet may begin on a smartphone, price comparisons might be done on an office laptop, a friend's tablet may be employed to read reviews, and the final purchase may be done at home on a PC. Isn't it imperative then to sync online shopping portals across multiple devices?

Not long ago, people were researching products online only to make the final purchase at a shop. Now, they research on mobile devices and choose to make the final decision through a home PC/laptop. Just as retailers realized the importance of online presence then, e-commerce companies are waking up to the need to align mobile apps to the portal.

Retail CIOs should realize that if there is no synchronization across devices, they may lose customers because:

  • A customer who returns to the site through an office computer, after surfing on his smartphone, may be put off if he has to repeat the login and search process.
  • A login prompt will help e-tailers track the customer and avoid repeat collection of credit card details.
  • Often, shoppers add products onto a shopping cart and leave midway, only to return a few hours later -- often through another device. A site that is synchronized to multiple devices will present the customer the same page where he/she left, thus hastening the decision-making process.
  • Identifying the customer early on will help retailers facilitate a purchase where customers are unsure or procrastinating. An email alerting them to an offer, giving the status of the stock (if it is being sold out), or simply reminding them of a pending decision will go a long way to effect a purchase.
  • If a browsing pattern and purchase history is established, retailers can work on personalized offers for returning customers.

Global e-tailers like Amazon and Target are already doing all of the above. It is definitely not too early for e-commerce companies in India to do the same. In fact, it is just about the right time to synchronize portals to cater to multiple device users.

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Gigi   Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying   1/21/2013 2:55:32 AM
Gigi
Re: Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying
Stotheco, that's a drawback of online commerce.  We cannot order certain things online, big electronic items like Tv, fridge etc, automobile items etc. but that segment contributes only a minor [portion of online sales.
 
Gigi   Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying   1/21/2013 1:56:45 AM
Gigi
Online shopping
Sudha, there is no doubt that most of the peoples are using e-commerce site for online purchases and this trend may continues in coming years. Obliviously before making the deal most of the peoples may have a comparison between different sites with respect to cost factor and shipping policy. That's the main reason, 'n' number of new online shopping sites gets started in 2012 and even now most of the retail outlets are offering their own online shopping facility too.
 
Taimoor Zubair   Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying   1/20/2013 9:40:53 AM
The trouble with online shopping
As a shopaholic, i face a very big problem with online shopping . That is the inability to try anything out as you would in a local store. Most of the time i end up buying something that doesn't look quite like i had imagined it. Apart from that , i get distracted really fast if the website leads me to one page after another. It's just nature of the customer that he feels much more at ease if all the details are presented in a concise manner in the start, along with the directions.  I think E-commerce is one area of IT that has a lot of room for improvement.
stotheco   Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying   1/20/2013 12:05:27 AM
Re: Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying
The thing with buying online versus in a physical store is that you can't really try anything out via the Internet. I mean, how could you? But then, the prices online are usually lower than what you'd find in store. So that results in the phenomenon you're describing, which is what I am guilty of doing myself. Especially for big purchases like electronics or gadgets.
tekedge   Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying   1/16/2013 4:40:23 PM
Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying
@Sudha - I see that most of the times here in the US, folks do their research online then  go to the retailer say like BestBuy or Apple store to check out and get a real feel of the products and then actually buy it online, where they get deeper discounts and also avoid taxes.
Sudha N Bharadwaj   Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying   1/16/2013 12:32:45 PM
Re: Comparison sites
Comparison shopping is offered by some sites, but I think it is mostly resticted to travel and auction. I know people do visit e-commerce sites one after the other to check out prices of the same product on different sites. I doubt very much if retailers ever match/compete with prices online. It is not cost-effective, not if they have glitzy showrooms with rents that match! In fact, I just  recalled that I myself  have done the showroom and online comparison, except that in this particular case, the showroom bettered the online prices due to a Diwali offer!! So I went back to the showroom (to purchase an electric rice cooker for Mom!) which not only had a discounted price, but also offered many extra "attachments" as a Diwali limited period offer on that particular model. Nice.
Sudha N Bharadwaj   Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying   1/16/2013 12:26:16 PM
Re: Re : Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying
Wow, that's serious bargain-hunting. Thanks for the additional input on consumer behaviour, Anand.
Sudha N Bharadwaj   Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying   1/16/2013 12:24:37 PM
Re: great stuff
Thanks Sara. The business insights into Internet behaviour is really getting very sharp and sophisticated. These portals know that purchases are likely to be made by a person who returns through different devices, rather than one who sticks to his/her PC and perhaps by extension the end-of-the-day surfing, as opposed to an all-day obsession.
impactnow   Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying   1/15/2013 6:59:36 PM
Comparison sites
Sudha do they price comparison shopping sites in India like the US? Maybe that would help the multiple visits and create a shopping pattern based lowest prices. Could it also be the reverse showrooming mentioned below? Do retailers in India price match the web?
Anand   Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying   1/15/2013 1:32:48 PM
Re : Indians Are Making Multiple Visits to Online Stores Before Buying
Now, they research on mobile devices and choose to make the final decision through a home PC/laptop.

@Sudha, sometimes the end user doesn't directly the buy the product online. Many of my friends visit the retail-store to find out the details about the products and then they do the shopping online because they have got discount coupons.

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