E-commerce In India. Hey Ram.

Let me start with a question, a bad experience shopping online… how many of you have been there? In early 2000 (guess around 2002) I was a confident online shopper. Bought a cool college bag (single strap was trendy) online for Rs 199 and paid COD. Bought a coke bottle and deodorant spray and paid Cheque-on-delivery. Awesome time that was. Fast forward, its been 10 years since I started shopping and selling online. Quite a journey. While I don’t sell anymore, I don’t buy either (exclude ticketing on Cleartrip). My fears of shopping online came out today, when a friend of my tweeted this out:

Ecommerce In India

Got cheated for the first time of shopping online. Not very difficult to guess who this Sequoia funded company is.

Explains why I am scared of shopping online. Not much because of such buyer experiences, more because I have been a seller! More on that in a bit.

India would have been a different e-commerce economy if since 2002 the awesomest safe shopping experience was preserved. But that din’t happen. We have far too many bad experiences around us. Lakhs of online shoppers cheated, left with poor service and no after sales. Don’t expect them to trust a new poster boy of e-commerce in India, no matter how good they are. For the Internet medium has failed them :(

Ecommerce Scams In India

8i Mobile with 3D Sensor. Free Watch. Rs 2,799. No points for guessing which what they are doing here

The poor experience may be with a iPhone shaped cheap Chinese mobile selling for Rs 2999 or a digital camera at a fraction cost. Or perhaps just late shipment. And by late I mean several weeks. Add to that non responsive customer support. I have been a vendor on the old biggies of India’s Internet story. They were (probably still are) a heaven for sellers selling cheap goods with no service. They knew the CS was seller oriented. And we are not even talking about their email service users getting spammed like crazy with ecommerce ads. Forget privacy and spamming, the basic goods and service weren’t delivered properly. And the reason was not poor logistics in our country.

For a short term gain, quick profit, they have ruined the internet buying experience for perhaps millions of Indians. And now the fire is being re-ignited with deals, loss making ventures, but wait. A fraud again? Poor service? Just do a google for a few popular sites selling stuff and you will see complaint boards still filled with sad tales. I admire the ones like Baazee (now eBay) who maintained a good CS, disputes would happen there, but dispute resolution was effective. I respect the newer ones who are on social media, talking to their customers, resolving issues and delivering on time. But how do you undo the damage that the dinosaurs of Internet in India have caused? How do you weed out the multi-million-funded-donkeys-dressed-as-horses?

Note: Some thoughts as I now remember, are recalled from my Quora answer on “What are the biggest challenges facing eCommerce sites in India?”

5 thoughts on “E-commerce In India. Hey Ram.

  1. See, this is going to happen everywhere. Be it online or offline world. Cheating is part of human and many people get into these activities. But at the same time, there are sites offering good stuff. Even small sites too.

    I generally shop many things online. (From Indian and well as out of International sites). I have had mixed bag of experiences too but the bad experiences are just handful. This applies to both Indian as well as international site.

    The core issue mainly relies with the customer support. Most of the times, they don’t know how to handle the customers. In my case, one of the vendors supplied the product really late, even ebay mailed me with the refund confirmation, the seller never bothered to reply to my mails but he shipped the item. At the end, I was kind of satisfied with the product and canceled the refund process on ebay.

    Another example was when a small time online shop sent wrong stuff, my wife is in constant touch with her to send the replacement but she does not have the solid answers.

    One more bad experience was from the international software vendor called Atmail, we paid them around xxxx USD for the license but their support is dead my tickets are open with them for past 1 month and they reply once in a week. So, now I cannot apply the refund too and the money is wasted totally.

    But yea, there are good experiences too. eBay, Qvendo, Flipkart, Chumbak, Infibeam and few other sites.

    In short, the bad experiences are always going to be there, we just need to be very choosy before picking up stuff from the net.

    • Annkur says

      Agree Deep. I have spent time shopping on Amazon, eBay in US, UK and even there I have had a few bad experiences. But not enough to put me off online shopping. In India, I do buy a lot @ Cleartrip and a couple of times on Flipkart. Both are responsible in CS and I know that by looking at their twitter stream. But the sheer volume of poor experience in the Indian online space is an old phenomenon.

      The torch bearers of the India internet story since a decade have done a poor job. Obviously you haven’t mentioned them in your comment and why would you, you know them. I do too. But if ecommerce could boom with shoppers like us, we would be in a different economy. The fact is that the bulk of purchases happen by people who read newspapers and see the hyped ads there, the ones who click on adsense links and buy stuff, the ones who look at an TV ad and believe it, the ones who aren’t power users. And that common man shopping after looking at an ad in a supposed to be credible newspaper, has been cheated time and again. His trust has been broken and that hurts the ecosystem. This hasn’t happened in the US, perhaps the laws are more stringent or whatever.

      But I take super offese to the irresponsible ones who have put millions from every shopping online again. The damage is done.

      Lets do our bit to educate the world. Always wishing for a healthy ecommerce industry.

      Cheers
      A

  2. Monika Jaisinghani says

    On a brighter note, let’s not forget the penetration of these sites in smaller regions and how they are actually making users familiar with international brands! Standard of living is improving. They know about Victoria’s Secret, now.

    Not overlooking at the fact that some of them are cheating.. but guess that is expected here. Every industry is having some clitches. Its on us to recognise which e-commerce platform is worth spending money on.

    From my standpoint: These sites should just stop spamming us everywhere.. SMS/Mails etc.

    Cheers,
    Monika. J

    • Annkur says

      Thanks for pointing that angle M.J. Agree on the Spam thingee. A lot of my response to the other half would be the same as I wrote to Deep :)

  3. Shashank says

    After reading this I came to know why you dont sell anything online now…coz u failed in that… Grow up kid…increase your knowledge…and open your eyes… god bless you…no offense…I know you will not publish this comment…but who cares…