In this globalised world people are more aware of the latest trends and are willing to follow them. India, with a huge middle class of around 350 million today is ready to spend a lot on the way it looks and as a result is buying more clothes than it was ever before. No wonder the apparel industry is thriving and is growing at a rapid pace. The new kid on the block is online retail. With India poised to possess the third largest set of internet users in the world the future definitely seems to be bright.According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), the online retail industry is expected to be worth Rs.7,000crore by 2012 and is growing steadily at around a whopping 35% in a year. According to a study there were around 7.4 million online shoppers in the top 15 cities and that figure is only going to grow. In factit is expected that the no. of people buying clothes online will soon contribute 10% of the total sales.
Since they have lesser overhead expenses like showroom rent, electricity, administrative expenses,logistics,etc. to bother about they can have more margins and also quote lesser prices. So basically it’s a win-win situation for both the parties. The other thing which works in the favour of online retailers is their 24 hour availability. A customer don’t have to bother about whether or not the shop is open or not and can browse through the clothes from the comfort of his home. There is no salesman pursuing him relentlessly to buy the clothes. For the junta in 2-tier and 3-tier cities who are mostly dependent on the big cities for getting the latest and the trendiest clothes can now get access to it from their home itself. They can order the apparel of their choice and it’s delivered within 2-3 days with no additional shipping cost. There is very rich product availability and people can have access to all the major brands and even compare their prices and features in a way which is just not possible with the ordinary retail stores.
But the grass is not completely green at this side. There are some concerns which the online retailers have to face and address,the most important of that being the security. People are still not comfortable buying things online and more education needs to be imparted to the customer to make him at ease. We Indians generally have a tendency of buying clothes and then returning them in case the people we seek opinion from don’t like it. It’s a very frequent phenomenon. In case of online shopping – exchanging or returning isn’t that easy a process and this might deter the customers from using this route. Also the delivery generally takes two to three days and in cases where people want to have the clothes immediately for some upcoming event online shopping is out of picture. Another thing that works in favour of the traditional retail stores is that people can try as many clothes as they want, feel the fabric, gauge the fitting and then make their decision. All of these privileges arenot available in online retailing. The reason why such stores are still prospering is the fact that they have made shopping an experience. How can u possibly compete with the ambience you feel when you enter a store, listen to nice music and salesmen catering to your varied whims and needs? People love to go out, be a part of a community and this is what makes the traditional shopping special. We love to seek opinions on how are we looking and if there is someone standing beside us giving a smile and giving a thumbs up, there is nothing like it. If the online retailers have to continue their growth story they will have to work on building this emotional connect.Your competitors are just a click away, they go as quickly as they come.
Also the future of the internet usage is mobiles and not pc or laptops. The companies have to come up with good mobile sites and should not look like a bad replica of the full website which provides just some information about the products available. The possibility of integration of the online stores with the social networking websites can also not be neglected in the near future. Social commerce is definitely the next big thing. In my opinion online retailing has its share of advantages and concerns. Traditional stores are here to stay but there is no denying the fact that there is great scope in the online retailing and gauging by the times and people’s needs, if they can cater to it there are big benefits to be reaped.