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Online shopping moves from luxury to commonplace as Indians learn to buy groceries and diapers, cellphones and shampoo, with a click of the button
Neeta mishra, a journalist with a Mumbai-based national daily and a new mother, was having a trying time juggling the demands of motherhood and her job, till she discovered Aaramshop.com, an online grocery mart. Now, ordering her grocery and the baby's diapers is just a click away, leaving her with somewhat more time to cope with other essentials. "The choice of products in the e-mart is limited as compared to a departmental store, but it works for me nonetheless. I can even specify what time I want the goods to be delivered home," she says.
Online shopping in India has moved away from the initial spate of glamour peddling and now addresses more commonplace concerns. When the e-retail concept was first introduced by sites like Fashionandyou.com and Privatesales.com, it was reserved for high-end acquisitions, like the LV tote or the Armani dress that you could not get in India. It was difficult then to imagine that the trail would eventually lead to the neighbourhood Lucky General Store, to allow customers to select and order everything from 100 gram of turmeric to their favourite shampoo sachet. But that's exactly what sites like Letsbuy.com, Myntra.com, Indiaplaza.com, Naaptol.com, Ebay.com, Snapdeal.com, and Yebhi.com are doing — selling products as diverse as crockery and grocery, clothes and electronic goods, home furnishing and books.
Anil Mangtani, who owns Lucky General Store, a grocery in Delhi's Mayur Vihar, and a partner of Aaramshop, says, "The online retail market is where the future is. Thanks to our partnership, we have been able to get orders from those areas in the locality, from where there were hardly any walk-ins." Ankur Dinesh, founder and director of Wirefoot India, a Gurgaon-based consultancy for internet marketing, says, "Although there is no exact figure, estimates suggest that the online retail sector in India is posting an annual business of Rs 1,500-2,000 crore. Naturally then, most companies have either launched e-stores or are mulling over that option. It's become top priority, more important than perhaps opening a store in the new mall." His views are echoed by Manoj Chandra, vice-president, Bata India, who says, "We have realised that an e-retail website is an emerging market space in today's world. So it makes sense for us to be present there."