The internet has changed the shopping experience of e-shoppers, as virtual stores score on convenience, variety and price. Brick and mortar retailers can no longer afford to ignore the potential of this medium.
Few would dispute that online shopping in India has changed from being a fad in to a rapidly growing trend. According to the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the number of internet users in India is poised to grow from 38.5 million today to touch 100 million by year 2007.
Every connection is a potential for net shopping. However, the internet is a tangled jungle of web sites vying for user's clicks, and online shopping sites have their work cut out for them to attract and retain surfers.
In a brick-and-mortar store, shoppers look for a variety of products, quality, pricing, ambience and service. The situation is not too different in the online space. The basic factors that influence a shopper's decision to buy are not substantially different online and offline.
An online survey by IAMAI of internet users and their shopping habits looks at, among other things, what shoppers look for while shopping online. Changing lifestyles and shopping habits will mean a dramatic increase in the number of online shoppers and an insight into what shoppers want was imperative for an ecommerce industry that reached Rs570 crores for 2004-05 and estimated to reach Rs2300 crores by 2006-07.
Attributes shoppers look for in an online shopping site
- Variety: 60 per cent of respondents found variety very important and demand a consistent multi channel experience. Retailers that do provide a web site and thus the retail site offerings will play a critical role in attracting and engaging the multi-channel consumer.
- Product availability: 53 per cent of respondents considered availability very important. Therefore, it is very important to clearly state product availability and give them multiple choices online to make a quick decision.
- Prices and Promotions: 71 per cent of respondents considered 'prices' very important while 38 per cent consider 'promotions' very important. Pricing is a phenomenal driver of sales whether online or offline. An online site allows for an opportunity to service two types of consumer groups: Price-sensitive and value-sensitive plus price neutral consumers. The use of special promotions by web sites keeps their interest alive in the sites and encourages shoppers to use them more frequently. Sellers will find it in their interest to vary their prices and thus cater to the price sensitive and bargain hunter while delivering additional value to a value- sensitive consumer.
- Shipping fees: Customers are very sensitive to shipping costs. The survey found that 46 per cent of the respondents considered this either very important. Your site should clearly site specific delivery schedules attached with shipping costs. Shipping fees is one of the most considered factors and shoppers are very sensitive and would abandon a shopping cart due to high shipping costs.
- Delivery: The survey found that 61 per cent of respondents considered speedy and timely delivery very important. Your site should clearly site stating geographic or other restrictions for delivery and Choices for shipping with clearly stated costs.
The internet has changed the shopping experience for good, scoring on convenience, variety and price. Retailers can no longer afford to ignore the potential of this medium.
*The author is president, Internet and Mobile Association of India