It had been inching towards this for a while. India has now arrived in the high-value online shopping arena. Diamond jewellery isn’t the priciest purchase you can make online anymore — cars, real estate and houses are.
After maturing as a platform for people to buy small products like books or electronics, the country’s e-tailing industry then graduated to jewellery, and is now a convenient mode even for large-ticket purchases like houses/properties and SUVs. The fact that five houses worth Rs 25 crore, 35 Nissan cars and over 250 Tata Motors vehicles were sold in four days during the recently concluded great online shopping festival conducted by Google is testimony to this. According to data shared by the internet search giant, the e-tailing market in India is expected to grow eight times from $2 billion in 2012 to $16 billion by 2016.
“Apart from saving time, shopping online offers transparency, convenience and easy access. In purchases like cars, not all brands have wide dealership and service networks, and shopping online gives customers access. With real estate, customers have direct access to the company without going through brokers. Advantages like these will drive the purchase of large items like cars, homes and all other products online,” said Arvind Singhal, chairman of consultancy firm Technopak
Also, though people don’t make many big-ticket purchases online, a lot of research and product comparison is done online. “Today, most car buyers go online before making a decision. So using the internet is a logical extension of the purchase cycle. At Nissan, we are putting in place suitable payment gateways with the help of specific car portals to ensure timely delivery and service at the time of purchase,” said Nitish Tipnis, director (marketing), Hover Automotive India, Nissan’s national sales company.
He added, “Unlike other countries, the growth of e-tailing in India is very different and e-commerce players bring out innovative schemes and options like cash-on-delivery and free exchange/return. These also help the industry mature and customers gradually develop faith in the system and payment mechanism.” Tata Housing Development Company, for instance, gives customers a virtual tour of the property while booking flats online.
Earlier, companies had devised new concepts and looked at the e-tailing platforms as another means to reach out to customers. But the response for lapping up products online was a surprise. “This is an indication of the e-commerce ecosystem maturing. If ten days back I was asked if real estate would be sold online, I wouldn’t have said it surely would. The sale of such big-ticket products and services like job search or matrimonial services was a surprise,” said Nitin Bawankule, industry director (e-commerce), Google India.