Smartphones are amazing. They have brought the best information and resources to the fingertips. You can now chat with someone in a different country. When getting bored waiting in the mall or in a queue, just open up your favourite endless run game to kill your time. Liked that dress you saw in the mall? Open an online shopping site and buy it for less than market price online.
Perhaps the most powerful impact of smartphones in our lives can be seen in the way we shop. But do you know which of the online shopping sites is trustworthy and which one has the best features for your benefits?
In this article, we are covering everything from why online shopping has more benefits but also what are best online shopping sites.
Changes in Lifestyle Brought by Online Shopping
Communication makes you feel alive. When loved ones are not physically close to you, you rely on the smart devices to connect you with them. They add a pseudo reality to life, something that is not exactly real but feels real.
However, we don’t rely on smartphones only for communication. These devices look small but pack amazing functionalities. They entertain us through music and movies when we feel bored. We can use them as an information repository through search engines. We can use dictionary apps when we don’t find a better word. Or we can use entertainment games or even skill development apps.
Why Online Shopping is So Popular?
No other feature of smartphones has impacted our lives more than online shopping. With many different security measures, online shopping has taken away any fears held by conventional shoppers. Most people living in semi-urban or urban areas, prefer online shopping over going to the store.
Below are my reasons for why a major portion of young and middle-aged shoppers prefer to shop online: .
- Online Shopping Is Convenient: The convenience comes in many ways: you can shop from your home, you can shop at any time of the day you want, you don’t have to go to the crowded markets to access to the product you like, and downloadable products like games and he books are available instantly.
- Products Ordered Online Are Often Cheap: Since these products do not come through a chain of middlemen, they do not have multiple layers of profits. Hence, effectively they cost quite cheaper than the same product in physical stores.
- For A Business, Online Shopping is A Boon: It increases your reach beyond just the local market. You can ship your products anywhere within your country or to a country on the other side of the world.
- Wholesale-like Prices: Mass selling brings an advantage that businesses can lower the prices by giving discounts and cashbacks.
- Easy Gifting: Gifting any item to your friends or relatives is as easy as clicking a button; you don’t have to go to one shop for buying and another one for gift packaging.
- Better Product Feedback: Online shopping also enhances the overall consumer experience. Buyers can share their experiences through reviews and ratings. Price comparison is another wonderful feature of online e-commerce websites. Some of the best online shopping sites even allow you to ask questions which are answered by the sellers or customers who have already bought that product.
- Online Shopping Also Has Minor Psychological Benefits: Many times big malls try to trick us into buying a lot of things we don’t need. Keeping brightly packaged chocolates near the checkout counter is one of such psychological tricks. I also bought a few shirts that were kept near the trial rooms; I didn’t exactly need them but I bought them anyway. This led to additional expenses, which can be avoided with online shopping because it provides totally distraction-free shopping experience.
- Cheaper Used Goods Are Easily Accessible: There are also marketplaces of used goods. If you are planning to use something only for a short time, you can buy them on these marketplaces at a much lower cost.
- Buy Discreetly: Some private items like innerwear and adult entertainment products can also be bought discreetly from the privacy of your home.
Can We Trust Online Shopping Websites?
India was never a country of regular online shoppers until 5 years back. This was partly because of the negative experiences for the customers from many online shopping websites. It is also because of the fact that Indians are very suspicious in spending their money and do not trust anyone with their money so easily.
But a lot of new measures have been implemented by the online shopping websites in India to help the buyers overcome this fear. Features like 100% assurance of genuine products, highly secure online transactions, cash-on-delivery (COD), and easy returns/exchanges are now provided almost all top Indian shopping websites.
The online sales volumes recorded on Diwali in the past two years have surpassed offline sales. This is a big indication that the trend in India is shifting from offline shopping to online shopping.
Let’s know the Best Online Shopping Sites in India
Amazon.in is the Indian subsidiary of the most popular shopping site in the US called amazon.com. It was founded in July 1994 by Jeff Bezos.
It leads the list of internet-based retailers across the world. In India, it is placed at the second position, close behind flipkart.com.
Jeff Bezos recognised the size of Indian market and the potential of profits it could make due to the population of India. He has pumped a lot of money in the past 3 years, an approximate total of his investments going as high as $7 Billion USD.
Why Amazon is So popular?
The creative ad campaigns run by Amazon have become hugely popular. They generate a large user base for the company. Their catalogue of products is probably the best among all top Indian shopping website. From daily needs to jewellery, from fashion to auto parts, they sell absolutely any product a human mind can imagine!
Their website is also highly optimized for user experience. They also have daily lightning deals where consumers can get their favourite products at 50-60% discounts. From a customer service point of view, Amazon also exceeds every other Indian shopping website.
They also have a special loyalty programme called Amazon Prime. This programme lets you avail free next day delivery on eligible products at just 499 rs per year. They also have recently launched Amazon Prime Video, which brings latest Indian TV shows and movies to users’ mobiles. Both, next day delivery and video services are available to just 499 rs / year.
Features of Amazon:
- All products sold under “Amazon Fulfilled” label are guaranteed to be 100% genuine. (Most products on their website are covered by this guarantee).
- They offer different modes of delivery – standard delivery, 1-day or 2-day delivery (depending on the town / city of delivery).
- Different payment modes, including cash-on-delivery (COD) are also supported.
- Quick and easy returns or replacement of a faulty product is also supported on product-to-product basis.
- Detailed tracking of an order is another one of their features which has been praised by Indian customers.
All these factors make Amazon the best shopping website in India.
Flipkart was founded in 2007 by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal (not related). Both are former employees of Amazon. Flipkart was the first major player in the Indian online retail segment, even before Amazon. Which explains why they are the leading Indian shopping website.
In 2014, Flipkart acquired Myntra.com – the online fashion retailer. Two years later, Myntra bought Jabong, one of its major competitors in the fashion and apparel markets.
From every other factor, they are almost similar to Amazon. At any given time, they have the same or more number of products than Amazon.
Special sections in Flipkart that are more popular than Amazon include Books, Home and Lifestyle, and Baby products.
Their loyalty programme is called “Flipkart First”. At 500 rs per year, it provides:
- Free shipping with no minimum amount cap for select pin codes and products.
- Discounted same day delivery on eligible orders
- Free 24-hour delivery on select products.
- Priority customer service with minimal waiting time.
They also partner with several small and medium smartphone brands from time to time for flash sales and / or exclusive selling rights. These brands are exclusively sold on Flipkart and you won’t find them anywhere else in the physical market or on any other online store.
Just like Amazon, Flipkart also supports all payment methods and easy replacements on products. In my personal experience, I think the replacement mechanism of Flipkart is more customer friendly than Amazon.
Snapdeal is the third largest Indian e-retailer. It offers products across all categories. It became instantly popular after it brought on Bollywood actor Aamir Khan for the promotion of its website. Snapdeal is a fully Indian-owned company.
It started off as a Deals and Coupons platform in February 2010 but quickly expanded to a full fledged eCommerce Marketplace by September 2011. In April 2015, Snapdeal bought Freecharge mobile payment platform for $400 Million USD.
In late 2016, Snapdeal completely rebranded and came out with a new logo for the company and colour scheme for the website.
Features of Snapdeal:
- Snapdeal offers all payment modes including cash-on-delivery (COD).
- Snapdeal Gold is a premium service that is automatically applicable on all pre-paid orders (but not on COD orders). If you buy a product on Snapdeal which is Snapdeal Gold enabled, you will get free shipping, free express delivery in select cities and extended return benefits for 14 days. This service is specific to orders and products and does not require yearly paid membership.
Myntra is also an online fashion marketplace, just like Jabong. It also covers basic products in Home Decor, and Furniture categories.
It is also a completely-Indian owned enterprise based out of Bengaluru. It started of as a gift personalisation service in 2009. It branched into a full-fledged fashion store by 2010.
Myntra was merged with Flipkart in 2014 with an aim to compete with Amazon and other major electronic retail sites.
At the 7th India Leadership Conclave in 2016, Myntra was voted as “India’s Most Admired & Valuable Power Brand”.
Features of Myntra.com:
- 100% guarantee of original products
- 30-day return window
- Free delivery for orders above 999
Paytm is a mobile wallet as well as an online shopping website. It offers attractive cashbacks into the customer’s Paytm wallet which he / she can use for other purchases and recharges paid by PayTM..
Initially, PayTM offered only wallet and recharge services for prepaid and postpaid mobile bill payment, DTH recharge, etc.
PayTM was started in 2010 as a mobile recharge and bill payment website. It stands for “Pay Through Mobile”. In 2014, it also started as a mobile wallet and as of today, it has become the most popular and used wallet due to demonetization in India at the end of 2016.
In addition to being a mobile wallet, Paytm is also a online marketplace for various small products. Essentially, it sells all products other than fashion or food stuffs. Although the collection of gadgets and other items is not very wide, they do have some good quality products.
Features of Paytm Mobile Wallet Website and Online Store:
- Attractive cashbacks and discounts offered.
- Very courteous and helpful customer service representatives.
- No-questions asked return policy
eBay is an American e-commerce company founded in San Jose, California, United States. It was founded in the year 1995 and is one of the oldest online retailers in the world. eBay owns a multi-billion dollar business with localised operations in over 30 countries.
eBay is not only an online shopping website, it also acts as an auction website for used goods.
In the early days, eBay faced great amount of criticism for not being able to put a check on fake products. A lot of such cases of fraud sellers were detected and that’s why the website gained a bad name. And it continues to remain so.
When I first came across eBay, it had a lengthy online registration form. In this day and age, Facebook or Google accounts are used as primary login mechanisms in all Indian shopping websites.
Although the company has considerably improved (it now provides a very simple 5 field registration form), it still doesn’t integrate social login.
Apart from this, eBay does host a selection of some very good products. It sells in all the basic categories.
Features of eBay:
- Very attractive deals feature
- eBay Guarantee Programme in which if customer is not satisfied with the product, he/she can ask for replacement or refund. It is specifically aimed at reducing the cases of customer fraud as eBay customer resolution team intervenes and provides a guarantee of replacement / refund.
HomeShop18 was founded in 2008 and is owned by Reliance Industries Limited. It is an online shopping website as well as on-air retail and distribution company. It sells products through live advertisement-like shows, which typically have a male and a female host promoting a specific product. These shows are usually broadcast in late night slots or weekend slots when channels expect the least TRP.
It is also an almost full-scale Indian shopping website. It operates in all categories but is majorly focused on home and kitchen use items.
Features of HomeShop18:
- 48-hr Returns Policy
- Great collection of home and kitchen products
- Can also buy while watching TV when you are free
ShopClues is an Indian E-commerce website founded in 2011 and it has headquarters in Gurgaon.
It sells a variety of products ranging from mobile phones to general electronics and all types of clothing for men and women. It also has a special section for a home and kitchen appliances ShopClues also sells baby care products. It also has a mobile app on all 3 major platforms – iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
Features of ShopClues.com:
- Extremely affordable daily use products for your home
- Bulk Purchase Store
- Gift Store
- Tools store called “Do-It-Yourself” Store
- A very unique “Made In India” store
Naaptol is basically a TV Shopping Channel that has a website as well. It’s unique point is that it offers “comparison based social shopping website”.
Majority of its customers come from lower tier cities. It does not host any big brands because most of its regular customers do not buy with a set brand in mind.
Features of Naaptol.com:
- Good collection and cheap products
- Corporate gifting page
- Supports secure payment methods and cash-on-delivery (COD)
- Supports EMI options
This was my humble attempt to summarize the features of top Indian shopping sites. Hope my list of top 10 Indian shopping websites is useful in your shopping experience.