A week before Diwali, Suyog Vyawahare, intently pored over his laptop. His mother Kamini, anxiously placed her hands on her 22 year-old son’s chair and leaned forward. He logged on to eBay(.com) and clicked on the T-shirt section. “My parents were sure I was being fleeced,” laughs the engineer, who ended up buying wireless headphones and a dashboard camera, as his parents did not allow him to buy clothes using an Indian online portal.
“If a company is based out of India, they don’t mind me placing orders for expensive products. I tried to explain the concept of cash on delivery and that, if anything went wrong, I had the option of returning it and could even take the company to court,” adds the Andheri (W) resident.
However, Communications professional Anuya Chakravarthi, a Vakola resident, was faced with no such opposition while shopping online. “My aunt and uncle love gardening at their farmhouse so I got them tools and a quirky pot from Shopo(.in) this Diwali. I also bought my roommates cloth bags. The site has a large database of retailers and they deliver quickly,” says 26 year-old Chakravarthi.
This festive season, like Vyawahare and Chakravarthi, a sizeable number of shoppers switched on their laptops instead of heading to the nearest shopping mall or market.
Jabong (.com), an e-commerce shopping destination that launched last year, saw its first bout of Diwali shoppers this year. Manu Kumar Jain, co-founder and managing director, says, “The trend of Diwali shopping has shifted from traditional goods such as ethnic wear to non-traditional buys such as sports shoes, sweatshirts and watches. People still believe it is auspicious to buy new things during Diwali, but the kind of products have changed.”
Smartphones are in
Supporting this idea of non-traditional buys are the statistics coming from the popular e-commerce site eBay. Abhimanyu Lal, head category management, eBay India, says, “Nationwide, the most purchased festive product has been smartphones. As compared to last year, key products with a significant increase in purchases are tablets and their accessories, home theatre and accessories, digital cameras, Bluetooth devices, 3D LED TVs, dual SIM phones and furniture.”
Customers are always looking for a good bargain, which is why they are flocking to e-commerce sites, which offer festive discounts. For example, Bedbathmore (.com), an online store which launched this year and sells bedsheets, towels and bathrobes, offered up to 20 per cent off on Stoa Paris’ Jaquard Bedsheet and Duvet sets as well as bedsheets and comforters for kids this Diwali. Amit Dalmia, founder and CEO, says, “In the past month, we saw a 15 per cent increase in traffic, and search queries were specific to Diwali gifting.”
This year, along with regular gifting items such as garments, jewellery and gift articles, online stores such as Alibaba (.com), a B2B site, saw a surge in the sale of event and party supplies. Khalid Isar, country general manager, India, Alibaba, elaborates, “The data gathered around Diwali-related products showed that event and party supplies witnessed a sharp year-on-year (YoY) increase of 24 per cent.”
Eco-friendly is in
While most online stores claim that there has been a shift towards non-traditional goods, according to Isar, the sale of traditional goods is still going strong with a 21 per cent YoY growth. “There is a 19 per cent YoY growth in searches for dresses and an 11 per cent YoY growth in suits and tuxedos.”
An interesting trend that has also emerged this year is people opting for environmental-friendly options. Isar says, “The celebrations have been cleaner, greener and noise-free as the YoY searches for fireworks and firecrackers saw the biggest decline at 32 per cent.”
His claims are based on the likes of Kanika Gupta, 24 year-old brand strategy director, who ditched the firecrackers and instead bought her friend a book from Flipkart (.com). “Normally, I like shopping at a store, but the idea for that specific book struck me while I was online, so I decided to buy it then and there,” says Gupta.
Customers such as Gupta and Vyawahare don’t believe that buying online lacks a personal touch. Vyawahare, in fact, sees direct delivery as an advantage, as it makes for a great surprise gifting option.
Meanwhile, for theatre actor and director Nidhi Bisht, shopping online is a boon, as she is not big on gifting. “Online, I shopped for T-shirts and gifts for family and friends who are away,” says the 27 year-old resident of Andheri. She shopped from a variety of places, including Samtana (.com), Rangiru (.com) and Giveter (.com). “I am too lazy to walk into a store and spend hours shopping for gifts. Online stores have come to my rescue, as they are convenient,” she laughs.
And for those who think it lacks a personal touch, she has a pat answer — “With so many sites to choose from, you can take all the time you need and choose a perfect gift; without leaving your home. Think about it,” Bisht signs off.
Who’s the biggest shopaholic?
1. Delhi (perfumes and cosmetics)
2. Bangalore (mobile accessories)
3. Mumbai (laptops and tablets)