Should you buy from Flipkart, Amazon,Snapdeal and others?

My Recent Encounters with eCommerce
My Recent Encounters with eCommerce

Hi there,

Yes, most of it are my real experience.

OR

Experience of close ones, where every minute detail is available.

No, don’t worry, I will not kill you with minute details.

I will walk the experiences, and leave you to take your call,

and try your luck,

On your future purchases on e-commerce platform.

The Inception

It was around 2009-2010, when e-commerce business model was stepping in India.

I placed my first online order in form of book on Infibeam, at that time there was no Cash-On-Delivery (COD), net-banking was not so popular and ATM card only helped in out with pre-payment.

Moreover, online payments that too pre-payment , was not trusted, except in case of IRCTC.

It was my first online order, it was a gamble for me.

Book reached to me in a week and it was sigh of relief.

Sooner, Flipkart also stepped in and started delivery at my location.

My 2nd online order, came under light of confidence from successful fulfillment of first order,

and then,

from 3rd order and onwards it became habit to order almost everything online.

In past 10 years or so, the e-commerce landscape has completely changed.

The rapid expansion by Flipkart, stepping in of Amazon, distant eye by Snapdeal and many more big, small e-commerce companies, expanded e-commerce market manifolds.

During the same time companies like e-Bay got dusted and Infibeam changed its market strategy.

And now, penetration has reached so much that you can look for virtually everything online.

From a sieving needle to a SUV, especially the mobile phones,  to all groceries at a click.

From maintenance staff and room decorators to wedding planners, everything is happening online with pre-payment and more or less without negotiation.

I am also a happy customer, to get services directly at home at competitive prices.

All my smart phones and electronics purchases in past 4-5 years have been online, with heavy discount on deals.

You name the product, you will get most of them either on Amazon or Flipkart or Snapdeal etc.

Business and Competition

Competition in market always benefits the customer.

Ex: Telecom Revolution by Reliance.

Undoubtedly, the telecom sector has changed completely twice with stepping in of Reliance.

In telecom revolution 1.0, it revolutionized by “kar lo duniya mutthi me”, and then recently in revolution 2.0, Jio has changed rules of game, by opening competition in DATA space rather than VOICE.

Ultimately, customer got too much cheap data with free voice.

That is a different point of concern that, we are eating more DATA than meals to keep us healthy.

3 sections in the society were most benefited with rise in e-commerce space

a. Banks having Credit Cards Offers

b. Professionalism and Employment in service delivery

c. End customer

Without doubt the driving force is the End Customer Participation.

The rosy picture started fading on my encounter with few merchants/shopkeepers, and recent electronics purchases going bad for me and for my friend.

Encounter #1:

Chandni Chowk

Chandni Chowk, as we all know is one of the most busiest street in the country.

With thousands of shops, be it wholesale or retail you can get everything you can think off, its just matter of walking down the street and finding out shop of your interest.

It was my first visit and accidentally, I walked in a famous store here.

Yes, we got some good clothes there at reasonable price.

In general, as a practice, whenever I think of buying anything, I check prices online once and then take a call weather to get it online or offline.

With electronics, its easy to find online prices using model no..

In fabrics and fashion i.e. clothes, it dont go this way. There are so many manufacturers and designs that its hard to get unique serial number for them.

Moreover, clothes are sold firstly on basis of design and branding stands at far second.

So, once we selected the item, I tried to find similar product online from same manufacturer. (manufacture lists its product online too)

2 things interrupted me from doing so:

i) Jio didn’t worked. The market is so crowded and congested that, people wont feel sunshine or rain there due to small roads and complex web of electrical wires, rickshaw pullers and e-rickshaws running around.

Result: I could not check or cross verify the prices at first.

ii) Just got the salesperson feedback regarding online prices.

To my general perception about raining so much offers and discounts, I end up just to know that, prices on e-commerce platform are much higher than original price of product.

Infact, in some cases its more than double of actual price in the shop.

The shopkeeper and salesperson themselves accepted that prices in e-commerce are escalated, and for busy shops like theirs, listing on e-commerce is a headache.

They got me confirmed the fact by showing some of the listings, with rates escalated first and then discounted.

Only advantage he was having was, online listing increases penetration, and catering customers from all over India.

Learning #1:

In most of the cases I might be paying higher prices for same product at offline store.

Encounter #2

Beard Trimmer

The purchase was started in February 2019 and ended in March 2019.

1.5 months I struggled to get a quality product from 3 major e-commerce platforms..

#1 Snapdeal

I ordered Philips beard trimmer on Snapdeal somewhere in February 2019. The product was delivered timely.

The packaging from Snapdeal was fine, but original Philips packing box was in bad shape.

On close inspection, found it to be a used trimmer.

Obvious action was to get it replaced.

Thankfully, replacement request was accepted and it got replaced too.

I got another trimmer, again in bad shape, with missing accessories and different color.

This time Snapdeal told that they can refund the amount but cannot replace it again.

I agreed and returned the item and get back the refund.

With this experience, I thought not to come back to Snapdeal again.

Next was Flipkart in the queue.

#2 Flipkart

Fed up of Snapdeal, I walked across local market here. But could not find the model I wanted.

Then, I thought to try Flipkart.

Ordered Trimmer here, and as expected it was delivered with lightning speed.

Being aware of my earlier experiences, I took snapshots while unwrapping the product.

Guess what…

Again found the broken Philips trimmer box, with mis-matched accessories.

Even trimmer was not getting charged.

Without any hesitation, I returned it.

#3 Amazon

Amazon…the last try.

I was about to give up on my trimmer purchase atleast online purchase.

Then thought to give final try to Amazon also.

Ordered and got it delivered in reasonable time.

Although the packing was not upto the mark, but product was quite fine with complete accessories.

Finally, I accepted the order and my dog fight of about 1.5 months for a trimmer got over in this fashion.

Learning #2:

Be vigilant on whatever you buy online. They may be used product, or products shipped with incomplete accessories. Check it properly when you receive them.

Clicking snapshots while un-boxing sometime helps you to convince the company that item shipped is in-appropriate.

Encouter #3

MI Band 3

Most Frustrating One.

The curiosity to know live health status, no. of steps walked along with pulse rate and catchy looks of health and fitness devices, made me order a MI Band 3 for my mother.

Being, little bit aware of these techie items, she decided to learn operational features of device through youtube unboxing videos for MI Band 3.

But, she got disappointed in first step itself.

The box and packing of item, was not as it should be.

Device was already fitted in belt, whereas un-boxing video’s show, it has to be assembled.

But, she ignored and moved forward.

Next was booting up the device.

Fresh device comes with battery only enough to check if device is operational or not.

This, device had ZERO battery and it never started up.

It gave initial impression of being completely dead.

Optimistically, she kept it on charging.

That also didnt worked at all.

So device was dead…..COMPLETELY DEAD.

And sequence of complains started with Flipkart.

At first, Mother was disappointed and wanted the product to be returned only.

Secondly, Flipkart said, the product can only be replaced, it cannot be returned.

Thirdly, I was very very upset with Flipkart and its Flipkart Assured services. I could not digest Flipkart quoting replacement only terms for a completely dead it.

I complained and requested for return, they always said NO for return and initiated procedure for replacement, by quoting some agreement between them and seller.

With nothing left, I took the case to social media.

Then their deaf ears got attentive and they resolved issue in my favor.

My point was simple.

I dont know seller and its terms and conditions with Flipkart.

I know Flipkart only, and it should be Flipkart who should insure quality services.

Else, they will loose their customer.

Learning #3:

Always read return or replacement conditions before placing your next order. A negligence may cost your pocket too much.

Encounter #4

Air Conditioner

This is most recent case of last week only.

After Holi, summers stuck hard here in Northern India. Survival without a AC is quite difficult.

Specially, for my friend who has recently shifted from Bangalore to NCR.

With summer knocking the doors, and raining offers on credit cards during last weeks of March (i.e. end of financial year), he booked Air Conditioner online with attractive offers on it.

He was very happy to get AC at competitive price. It got delivered timely within 1-2 days, and got installed the next day at a price of Rs3000/-.

1 hour after installation, the AC got bad. Its motor stopped working.

He contacted Flipkart, which i turn asked him to coordinate with Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), infact they facilitated contacting OEM.

But, AC motor was not available.

OEM Service Manager asked 3 days time to make it available.

My friend was in shock.

A Rs30K+ product on EMI, didn’t worked for 30 hours and gone bad.

Along with it, the laid back response from Flipkart and OEM made him very angry and nervous.

Finally, he had to take a call, either to keep AC and get it repaired or return it to Flipkart.

He chose second one. He returned it with hiccups from Flipkarts end.

Finally, he got a new AC from nearby shop at much more competitive price and greater share of responsibility of shopkeeper.

Learning #4:

There is no harm to take a step backward to get things done properly

 

Fault Isolation

In all the cases I dont know who was at fault.

Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal all have changed the experience and manner in which we shop.

Their business depends on strong customer rapport earned due to professionalism, and customer focused business models.

Cashback, Discounts, Return and Replacement policies are backbone of e-commerce business in India. People wait for them, and gets attracted to them. Infact cashback and zero cost EMI are the reason why many people started opting for credit cards now a days.

E-commerce platforms have been able to provide availability of products from one part of country to other, provided employment to thousands and lacs of people who work day and night as delivery boys.

But then, customer is price sensitive as well as quality sensitive.

There is no doubt if low prices and better quality is not kept intact, the customers will run again towards offline stores and local shops.

Infact, with me and my friends market survey experience, we got to know, that offline stores are also catching up fast and matching prices with online stores.

Words for Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal etc..

The competition is creeping up. Offline brick and mortar shops are changing the way they do business.

The incidences happened with me, really dented the trust, I had on my online purchases.

There is time for course correction, better quality contracts with sellers, and steps in customer favor.

Words for Consumers/Customers:

Ques is: Should you buy from Flipkart, Amazon,Snapdeal and others?

Ans: No, I am not discouraging you from buying products online.

I am just asking you to be aware and cautious whenever you do online shopping.

One can also get offers on offline purchase also. It just he/she has to do market research and then take a call.

For branded items with serial no. confirm prices, if online is cheaper, show price to offline store. There is very high probability, that the shopkeeper would try to match the price and sell you the product.

 

That’s all from my end for now.

Would be interesting to know if some of you also have some good/bad experiences with online purchases.

Thanks.

 

 

 

 

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