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Shopping for deals and discounts

| Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on October 25, 2015

E-commerce websites are wooing consumers with lucrative offers. What do people think of these offerings? Gurumurthy K and Yoganand D find out

Make use of ‘cash on delivery’

Vishnu Sudhakaran, a Bangalore-based software developer, recalls that last year, during Flipkart’s “Big Billion Day” there were a number of issues like the server crashing, criticism over unrealistic pricing and products being out of stock. But this year, he feels e-commerce firms have overcome those issues. “It was well-planned, more organised and buyers were alerted well in advance,” says Vishnu. He has bought a tablet and television this year from the festive offers. On his tablet, he got a discount of about 40 per cent. He would have saved around 20 per cent in these offers so far.

He now places greater trust in online sales, thanks to his pleasant experience — in terms of the response, service and delivery.

Companies are roping in contract employees and college students to meet higher customer demand.

Vishnu feels that discounts have become better with the increase in competition. He does his homework by comparing prices of a product on various portals before buying.

After a few bad experiences involving fake products online, he now buys only from trusted sellers. Customer protection services like the one offered by PaisaPay on eBay — where the seller receives the money only if the customer notifies the website that he is satisfied with the product — also help build trust. Vishnu plays it safe by taking advantage of the option of cash on delivery for orders that are priced above ₹1,000 or ₹2,000.

Research before jumping in

Chennai-based software professional Navin Kumaran is one of those who eagerly wait for festive offers. “On a normal day the discounts are in the 15-30 per cent range, but during the festive season you get a whopping 50-70 per cent discount, that too on branded products,” says Navin.

Shoes and electronic goods are his favourite purchases. He has saved about 65 per cent on the actual cost of the products by making the most of online discounts. He has little time to go to a shop for his purchases. Online shopping is, therefore, tailor-made for him. Initially, fears of non-delivery of items purchased and theft of his credit/debit card details had kept Navin away from online shopping. But the transition in e-commerce sites to more secure payment and efficient customer support has helped him overcome his qualms.

“Once when I had a bad experience the support team was completely with me with until it was resolved. I even got a free coupon for ₹250, the icing on the cake,” says Navin. He suggests doing a little research before going for festival offers. “Verify the item’s actual MRP and compare it with the price listed on the portal. Make sure to read the review of the item as well as of the seller.” A check along these lines will minimise the chances of disappointment, Navin says.

Better offers in electronics

If you thought that only men go crazy about online offers on electronic goods, think again. Dhivya Kalyanasundaram, a software professional based out of Chennai, has grabbed a 40-inch, full-HD, LED TV for her family and gifted a smart phone to her father, making the most of festival offers. She has saved a total of ₹13,000, thanks to the discounts. She intends to buy clothes and jewellery with the saved amount, but offline.

“The online market for fashions is still not mature enough; it doesn’t feel good to buy clothes without trying them on first,” says Dhivya. “I have had a few bad experiences buying apparel and I am still not convinced about going online for fashion.”

According to her, the festival offers are predominantly on electronic items because these are discretionary spends and people can wait for the right offer before buying them. She thinks that the number of companies making such offers is increasing every year. Next year, she expects the offers to be bigger and more mouth-watering.

She even has a word of caution for those who are going mad about online purchases. She has seen some sellers increase the price of products for a couple of months around festivals seasons and then slash it back to the original price. “Offers are only for items which are offer-able,” says Dhivya, coining her own term for products that have to be pushed out of companies’ godowns. “I have not seen an iPhone or a Sony TV being offered in any of these sales.”

A mother of two, Dhivya regularly buys lots of baby products online, on discount.

“I think there is a huge market for baby products. E-commerce portals can consider promoting baby products also in their festival offer lists, going forward,” she suggests.

Convenience of doorstep delivery

Satyajith Sarangi, a software engineer working with the discount brokerage Zerodha, Bangalore, purchased an Audio technica earphone, for a discount of 30 per cent, and the OnePlus 2 mobile phone, through online portals.

With firms offering more discounts on mobiles this festive season, buying phones online has become the norm. With some portals acquiring exclusive selling rights of some brands of mobile phones, buyers have to check online, too, before buying the mobile phones.

Increase in competition has made it more transparent for the customer to buy a product, says Satyajith. “The ease of getting products delivered at the doorstep is a big positive. There is mostly a discrepancy in pricing and, more often than not, e-commerce outlets are cheaper than offline shops.”

While it is okay to buy small-ticket items, the fear increases when buying costlier goods online, he says. “As the amount you spend on a product increases, the paranoia of a product not being satisfactory enough also increases.” Satyajith thinks one way for the customer to protect himself is to stick with bigger and better-known sites, such as Amazon and Flipkart.

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