Effect of e-Commerce on Retail

27th October 2015 at 10:59 am

e-Commerce is the most happening business venture for companies ranging from day to day startups to multinational corporations. The amusing sight of a child rolling on the floor embarrassing his/her parents to convince them to buy him/her an item in a big store or even a street market is a rare sight nowadays. Shopping is mostly down to hours of review reading on the internet and finally comparing prices on different portals to get the best deal. Wait a minute! We have websites which do this for us too. The rise of e-commerce has changed a lot of things.

          Let’s start with the good things first. Purchasing any kind of product has become very easy online. Customers can avail great deals and discounts and grab products at very reasonable prices with the click of a mouse. Shipments are free and products delivered to your doorstep by your friendly neighborhood delivery boy. An e-cart saves you from the physical activity of moving from department to department to stack items in real-time. It is a boon for people to buy products which they are otherwise embarrassed to buy in a retail store. There is no limit for choice; a greater level of patience gives greater choice of products to choose from.

          On the other hand, how many online shoppers really take the line that says “Product may differ from image shown” on products page seriously? You can never be sure that you would get a product that looks the same as on the website. Returning a product and getting a refund is quite a chore that is time consuming. In the case of electronics, many new online buyers fail to notice if warranty for a product is given by the company or the seller.

          However, some products have to be felt by hand and seen with the naked eye to guarantee a happy shopping experience. Biased online reviews and inflated prices with great discounts in the name of big sales also mislead customers to buy products. The new trend of flash sales has also made a mental impact on young buyers. Oh! The agony of waiting to click on the buy-now button when the timer countdown ends in every flash-sale. There are even cases where stolen items are put online for sale.

          On a lighter note, I remember seeing a hilarious question online where a man wanted to know how to get his credit card out of the floppy drive because his wife thought that is how online transactions are done. We Indians love bargaining which is not available on e-commerce websites.

          In a nutshell, though this is the era of e-commerce, there are some things that would never be possible on the website that a normal genuine store shopping experience would offer. So can online shopping kill retail completely? I don’t think so. There are always people who like to go Old School.