Online vs Offline: Where is the rush?

Some like to push the trolley, while others just click the mouse. Shoppers tell us what they will do this festival season

Diwali’s here, can shopping be far behind? While shoppers who buy online aver that it is convenient and safe, offline customers prefer a brick-and-mortar store to make their purchases. Where’s the action this season? Portfolio spoke to some shoppers.

Touch and feel scores

Gurvinder Gandhi, a marketing professional working for a Mumbai-based chemical company, is a big fan of the Olympics. He was keen on watching Olympics 2016 on a large screen. So, he went to a nearby electronics store and zeroed-in on a 42-inch TV. Its MRP was ₹1,29,000. The dealer was ready to give it for ₹1,17,000.

Gurvinder, though keen on that model, didn’t take the offer. Subsequently, he looked up the model online and found that it was cheaper on Snapdeal.com. So, the next day, he telephoned the dealer and told him that he was getting a better deal elsewhere. Then came the counter-offer he couldn’t refuse.

“The dealer straightaway reduced the price by another ₹5,000.” The offline price was now cheaper than the online one. “I immediately bought the TV,” says an elated Gurvinder.

It’s a misconception that the best prices are always on the internet. Many a time, dealers do manage to give the best deal provided you are willing to ‘ask’.

Sameer Nair from Thiruvananthapuram had a similar experience when he bought a camera from a friendly neighbourhood dealer. “His quote was cheaper than those on the Net”. While Sameer does shop online occasionally for electronics items, he vows to keep some purchases strictly offline.

“ I ordered 10 leggings for my wife for ₹1,000. They lasted exactly 10 days,” says Sameer ruefully. He has grown savvier now and refrains from buying things on the internet just because it’s cheap. “Quality is of utmost importance,” he reasons.

“I like to try clothes before buying them,” says S Pradeep, senior developer working for an online portal. So is the case with Gurvinder when it comes to buying shoes.

“I have broad feet — and often the fitting varies with the brand. I therefore prefer walking to the nearby store and trying out different models,” he says. Moreover, he enjoys the experience of shopping offline by ‘touching and feeling” products.

For a frequent globe-trotter like Pooja Bansal, buying at stores gives her a high. “I look forward to the Dubai shopping festival with its grandiose modern malls and unbeatable offers and showcase of brands.” Some time ago, she was in Switzerland. “ I bought a Swiss watch for a song,” (as a birthday gift for her brother), she says.

There are consumers who have had a negative experience while buying high-value merchandise online. “Recently, my student bought a guitar from a popular online store. He was disappointed to find scratches on the guitar,” says Sonny John, CEO, Hindimusiclessons.com. He found that some musicians were misusing the option of 15-day money-back guarantee. “These musicians apparently bought the guitar, used it in shows and then returned it. Some of these returned products were quoting at a lower price on the music portal,” he says.

Also, some prefer buying goods from the shop next-door because they are not yet familiar with the online transacting. So, where is Suhas Gaikwad going to shop this Diwali? “Nearby mall, of course” he says. “I have a mobile with an internet connection, but hardly shop online using it.” For the busybee Gurvinder, festival shopping is a last-minute affair. No wonder malls continue to be overcrowded during the festive season.

They prefer the e-cart

Online discounts/offers are changing the way people shop. Earlier they shopped whenever there was an occasion. Now, offers have become the occasion.

S Pradeep, a senior developer, buys most stuff online — be it gadgets, camera, routers, pen drives or accessories. So when the time came to gift a mobile to his father, he waited with baited breath.

“I was checking for iPhone prices and latched on to a good deal on Flipkart.com.” This was also the opportune time for him – as Axis Bank was running a 10 per cent cash-back offer at that point in time and he happened to hold its credit card. Net-net he got the best deal, he was happy and so was his father.

For Sajal KR Basu, a tech lead with an online portal, most of the work happens in front of the computer. “I find it the most convenient way to shop. It saves on time and with increased security measures it’s also safe to transact online.”

He usually prefers buying products through Amazon.com, especially when it has the promise of being “fulfilled by Amazon”. In such cases, Amazon stores, picks, packs and ships such products along with handling its customer service. Recently, when Basu bought an LED bulb from Amazon, he found it defective. “ I was immediately given a replacement by Amazon,” says Basu.

For Sonny John of Hindimusiclessons.com, life chugs along on the internet highway. All his vegetables, fish and meat come from Bigbasket.com.

“Also, I buy high-value imported music instruments from ebay.in. “I tour outside India and sometimes have the option to buy instruments offline. But believe me, it’s tedious. Airlines seek payment of $150, whether I carry it as luggage or buy an extra ticket,” he says.

“I want to buy an imported classical guitar. I was planning to pick it up from a shop in Dubai, where I would be on vacation in January. However, I have changed my mind and will buy it instead from ebay.in – that would deliver it to the comfort of my home, that too, at the lowest cost.”

For Sridhar Nair, a voracious reader, flipkart.com has been his best friend. “You order and it’s there in a few days with good discounts thrown in. He however buys only branded products online, where there is assurance of quality. With many companies pulling up their socks in the area of ‘customer service’ online buyers are now feeling empowered. “They give options of instant call-back. And many are ready to take the product back if you are not satisfied with their quality,” says Sridhar.

Customer is truly king — transacting on online portals.

c:set var="prUrl" value="https://premium.thehindubusinessline.com" />

Read further by subscribing to

The Hindu Businessline

What You'll Get

  • Web + Mobile

    Access exclusive content of the Hindu Businessline across desktops, tablet and mobile device.


  • Exclusive portfolio stories and investment advice

    Gain exclusive market insights from the Hindu Businessline's research desk.


  • Ad free experience

    Experience cleaner site with zero ads and faster load times.


  • Personalised dashboard

    Customize your preference and get a personalized recommendation of stories based on your intrest.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor