Even though e-commerce took a lot of time to get used to but the Indian web users have finally swallowed the feeling that it’s quite useful to shop online. I remember the good old days when people were scared at the thought of punching credit card numbers online on a web page. And then there were those chicks who wanted to touch their fabric before making purchases online. Making purchases online has it’s own ups and downs. I’d rather say it has more ups and downs. You just need to be smart enough not to let anyone phish out your sensitive information.
I’ve been an active online shopper for a long time now. Being lazy may be one of the reasons I vote for online shopping but the convenience is pure heaven. Here’s a review of major Indian online e-commerce websites.
1. E-Bay India a.k.a Bazee.com
I had been an active Bazee user when E-Bay acquired them. E-Bay opened a whole new window of opportunities for the next door chunnu-munnu to start selling online with minimal investments. Buying on E-bay has become a pleasant experience. There are seller ratings, feedback etc. which always tell you which seller to buy from and which one to stay away from. I’ve bought from E-bay several times and I have always had a positive experience. Simple gadgets, gift items and utilities sell the most at E-Bay. The user interface is neat and the customer care usually respond quickly.
Ever since Fabmall merged into IndiaPlaza I have been using them for buying my goodies online. IndiaPlaza is one of the few Indian online stores that remain independent i.e no ugly merchants in the middle so you get-what-you-see on the product description page online. You directly buy from them and thus quality is maintained. IndiaPlaza boasts to be the largest online shopping mall in India. The shipping is a bit slowish. The packaging is great. The customer care is alive and normally responds in 12 hours by e-mail. I use Indiaplaza to buy books and sometimes gadgets. They accept all major credit cards and netbanking payment facility.
3. Indiatimes Shopping
Indiatimes used to be a great place for online shopping. Then they revamped their business model and allowed chunnu-munnus to sell online as merchants. The quality came down as expected. People were not satisfied with the whole online shopping experience. Things have changed over the passage of time. I’ll still say that if you’re making your first purchase online or buying something really expensive then Indiatimes is not for you! Expect technical glitches, broken links, incomplete product descriptions all over the website. Also if the screen goes blank after you punch in your credit card details on the payment page don’t be surprised. Customer care is often caught napping. Since you buy from merchants there are shipping delays, lies on product description pages and blah blah. Indiatimes is only recommended if some shiny little coupon landed on your cell phone as a text message. Highly unrecommended.
4. Rediff Shopping
Rediff adopted the same business model as Indiatimes a long ago. In case of Rediff the whole shopping experience is somewhat better than Indiatimes. Rediff has a clear well designed online store which is fun to browse. You can shop for almost anything you feel like. The prices are quite high on Rediff shopping. This may be due to the fact that they charge a bomb to the merchants who have no option but to pass it on to their customers. Rediff accepts all major payment options. I’ll recommend Rediff in case you are interested in purchasing gifts, books, small gadgets or apparel.
5. Sify Shopping
Sify has been around for a real long time now. For some reasons Sify couldn’t keep pace with the whole information rush and it has been left behind. I made a purchase from their online store a long time ago. The shipping is quick and the customer care was fantastic that time. They don’t have a large inventory at this time but it’s a decent place to shop online. I’ll recommend you use Sify only and only if you’re out of options.
6. Future Bazaar
To me Future Bazaar is the Internet version of the retail boom in India. You can buy almost anything online from Future Bazaar for really competitive prices. They have some great promotions running from time to time. Customer support is excellent but I’m afraid it’s not the same with shipping. They accept all major payment options. A place to keep an eye on for some great deals! Highly recommended!
7. HomeShop 18
Speaking of deals this Network 18 venture is the mother of all stores offering deals. Initially HomeShop 18 seemed like it was based more on the tele-shopping business model but they eventually relaxed into a complete online store. HomeShop 18 offers some great deals if you’re interested in buying cell phones, mp3 players, dvd players, toys, digital cameras and other consumer electronic goods. They have a huge inventory of other items as well. What I like about HomeShop 18 is the great customer care and awesome payment options. They offer cash on delivery which almost no other online shopping store in India is offering. They accept my debit cards too which is the icing on the cake. And then there’s 15-Days Money Back Guarantee which is like more chocolate after the cake. Highly recommended!
8. Cafe Gadgets
Cafe Gadgets is a complete online store with a great collection of gadgets to suit your needs. It really works because most of the times I can’t find a specific gadget somewhere or a decent price. Cafe Gadgets includes all sorts of computer hardware, digital cameras, mobile phones, portable music players etc. They accept all major online payment methods and the service is quite decent.
9. Gadgets Guru
Gadgets Guru is yet another online store to satisfy your hunger for gadgets. They have all the gadgets you may need especially the latest cell phones, PDAs, software etc. It offers a decent online shopping experience. The customer care is a little hard to locate. You have to search through the badly designed web pages for a link to the customer care. They accept all major credit cards and Visa debit cards too. I hope they’ll include Netbanking as a payment method too.
FlipKart is a great place to shop for books online. I always have a hard time looking for a decent book store around and I prefer buying books online itself. FlipKart is a fairly new online book store but it’s got that thing! A huge collection of books topped with a great clean design. Then there are discounts on books which is the icing on the cake. They offer free shipping if your total order is above Rs. 100 else they’ll charge you Rs. 30 per order, fair enough. They are based in Karnataka and the customer care is quite attentive. Highly recommenced for buying books online in India.
[In case you have an online shopping experience you want to share please feel free to post a comment below]