By Mainsh Sharma*
E-tailing has seen a significant rise in India in the past few years. Consumers nowadays shop online and through e-market websites in addition to brick and mortar stores. E-markets have grown and developed to such an extent that multinational giants like Walmart (through its acquisition of Flipkart) and Amazon have invested heavily in the Indian market.
The size of the Indian pet care market is estimated to be around $400 million. In certain urban markets, the overall contribution of online sales is as high as 50 percent of
the overall pet sales. Some of the most prominent e-commerce stores that have cropped up in India in recent years that have taken the domestic market by storm are:
Dogspot.in : Founded by Rana Atheya, this e-commerce portal is a one stop shop for all your pet needs. It not only offers all kinds of pet merchandise but also provides a wealth of information on topics such as grooming services, dog breeding, veterinarians, dog trainers, and kennel clubs etc,. In addition to this, the pan India dog-centric store has also launched a section on pet adoption which aims at creating a database of pets across the country who can be adopted by willing pet parents. Dogspot, however, clearly states that it is not involved in any kind of sale or purchase of dogs or puppies.
Petsutra.in: This e-commerce store for pets aims to establish an ecosystem for pets and pet owners by offering a plethora of pet merchandise as well as other services ranging from pet adoptions and pet dates to wellness and accessories. They started out with Chewlicious, its flagship yak milk based treat and are now planning to expand to grooming, clothing and other domains as well.
Petsworld.in: This online pet supplies service helps deliver the best brands at your doorstep and covers over 6500 pincodes across India.
They provide fast and hasslefree e-commerce and churn out the best deals for their customers. They aim towards empowering pet owners with complete pet related information along with establishing a network that enhances the experience of pet parenthood.
Chewcentral.com: Piyush Verma and Vikram Ramchand set up this online pet supplies store with the objective of making global brands from the US, Europe and Asia accessible to Indian pet owners. The e-portal offers customers more than 3000 products under food, toys and supplies categories. The website allows customers the convenience to shop according to their pet’s breed. They also have a team of veterinarians and trainers to provide reliable advice to pet parents.
REASONS WHY E-TAILING IS DOING WELL
E-tailing has picked up so rapidly in the country because of the following reasons:
1. Convenience: E-tailing provides a tremendous amount
of convenience to the consumer. The consumer does not need to venture out in the open sun and can do all his shopping in the comfort of his living room. While sipping a cup of tea, he can purchase his favourite product. No more searches for parking space required.
2. No Haggling: Perhaps the biggest advantage of e-commerce is that you can look at thousands of products without the usual haggling of the salespeople. At the end of the day, even after viewing hundreds of products, you can decide not to buy a single one! You can never have such an experience at a brick and mortar store, at least in India!
3. No restrictions on timings: While conventional stores have an opening and closing time, e-commerce websites are accessible round the clock. You can shop at any time you want to, and not just when the shop is open. Whether you are free at 2 AM or 2 PM, it doesn’t matter!
4. Growing Trust: There is a growing trust among e-commerce merchants. Most e-commerce merchants have a very active customer service and sales and support department. With big names like Wal-Mart and Amazon entering the market, the perception of the industry has only become positive in the minds of the consumer. Many companies provide an exchange period of up to 30 days for returning/exchanging their products. Undoubtedly, returns/exchange is one area in which all e-commerce merchants have to be good.
5. Discounted Pricing: Owing to the fact that e-commerce companies don’t need to invest in infrastructure and human resources, they are able to pass on benefits to the consumer. Also, since the number of people visiting these e-commerce websites is huge, they are able to offer wholesale prices. Such an arrangement is an absolute delight for the consumer. He is able to make appreciable savings.
6. Ease of payment: E-commerce offers all kinds of payment options. People can choose to pay through plastic money, wallets or cash on delivery. This provides ease of payment to the consumer since he can choose to pay by whichever means he deems fit. The option of EMI on credit cards (and now even on debit cards) is another lucrative feature of e-commerce websites.
A WORD OF CAUTION
While e-tailing is doing great in the country, there is also an ill that has crept up in the industry. The number of inferior products available on e-commerce websites has been rising rapidly. Though these companies have robust returns and exchange policy in place, such instances tend to leave a bad taste in the mouth of consumers. E-commerce platforms need to have a stringent quality control mechanism at their onset. They need to make sure no inferior or low-quality product is showcased on their website. Most of the time such products are extremely affordable and maybe e-commerce ventures need to take a major part of the blame since all of them want to offer the cheapest product to the consumer. However, it is also possible that since e-commerce websites offer millions of products, many of them may go unnoticed. Thus the need for robust quality control arises. Premium brands need to ensure that old or damaged products are not put on e-commerce sites.
If the e-commerce giants can overcome this folly, e-commerce will attain even greater heights and will create a far more favourable opinion in the hearts and minds of consumers.