It sucks! Ya that’s right, it sucks. Try find a site to buy something really common place like a good desktop, may be a technical book or may be a cell phone. Does anyone know if there is something like Amazon or eBay in India. There is eBay (formerly known as bazee) but try finding things that you need out there. There is barely 20-30% chance of finding it there. Why? Because there is hardly anyone selling it there. Consider this scenario, I have never been in India before, I land here and need to get a computer for myself. It could be a desktop or a laptop. Where should I go? I do not know anyone here, although I have internet in my house. The most sensible thing to do would be to get out of the house, ask some sane looking person about the whereabouts of such a store. If lucky, there might be one close by, if not get back to your room.
Next, may be try Google maps to locate an electronic store near your current location. As far as my experience goes, you would end up with nothing really useful. Businesses here are not really harnessing the power of Google. The stationery store near by apartment can be found in the map but a bank adjacent to that store is nowhere to be seen on the map. The main reason is people still heavily rely on “word of mouth” information rather than looking for it online. That is the main reason why there is nothing like Amazon here. I myself used to visit the Amazon website at least once a day to check out the recommendations of books and other stuff. Well, its true that a website becomes famous when it is useful to her users in the region. India does not have that internet savvy population as it is in the US, but I firmly believe that the percentage of the population getting interested in owning a nice flat screen TV, a sleek laptop or may be a gaming console is increasing at a rapid rate. It certainly makes sense for a customer to closely look at the item or even touch it before buying it, a well organized and well thought website arouses her interests to go for a product. Right now this interest building activity is loyally performed by the TV and friends. I am no comScore analyst, but the difference between the online transactions for home usage products in US is huge compared to that in India. And that is why we need something like Amazon for India. I do not know how it would look, for sure it would require a shift in minds of the retailers and buyers. Retailers should somehow be interested in the online business which would eventually drive the interests of the buyers. Let me tell you there are a large number of buyers out here who don’t mind spending lakhs of rupees on a TV.
I gave some thought on what the website should have to make it a success in a an upcoming economy like India.
- Really easy and intuitive interface for the users. (may be something like www.jagore.com ).
- Multilingual, the site should be able to change the culture to English, Hindi and other major languages.
- Powerful search functionality. Since people are so “Googlelized” these days, everything they need to find is searched on Google and things move on after that.
- A recommendation system that works, like that of Amazon or Netflix. People would just love stuff being recommended to them which they might be interested in.
- Flexible payment options. India is predominantly still a “Cash based” market. People mostly buy all kinds of stuff, from an orange to a house, just by paying hard cash/check. Online options need to be there, but there must be a system in place for the customer to pay cash on delivery or something on that lines.
- Free or nominal delivery charge.
These are the major features which the site must have to capture the Indian public interests. I hope there is something in the making like this, since there certainly are several other folks out in the wild thinking about getting a customer friendly experience on the internet.