Trend

Clickety click

The virtual shopping cart is overflowing with brands and discounts, but only some online retailers are going to survive the blitz consumers are enjoying so much

Illustration by Kishore Das

Bengaluru-based Tresa George, 25, is new to the world of internet shopping. After her first online purchase in December, she now shops online for almost everything except groceries. George, who works at Goldman Sachs, says she has no time to shop and online stores help her buy things she wants at the click of a mouse. “It’s so convenient,” she says. “I get the product in a week and if I don’t like it, the delivery man comes back to pick it up, so I can return it.”

Thousands of others like George have taken to online shopping like never before. It’s difficult to resist online stores like Myntra, Fashionandyou and 99labels, which offer more products and better prices than neighbourhood stores. And consumer appetite for online shopping is so strong that there are nearly 200 online stores now. 

Online retailing kicked off in a big way with the launch of websites like Flipkart and Myntra in 2007. Myntra was launched in the personal products space and then repositioned as a lifestyle and fashion retailer in late 2010. Some of these companies expect to turn profitable this year — Myntra and Fashionandyou say it will happen by December and, in keeping with the industry trend, online retailers who have launched in the last six months or so say break even will take three or four years. 

Industry body Assocham says the online retail market will grow to ₹7,000 crore by 2015 from ₹2,000 crore now, backed by the easy availability of broadband services and increasing internet penetration across the country. The figure looks quite plausible considering the 15-20% month-on-month growth seen by most online retail sites. Some like Zivame (an online lingerie store), which started operations six months back, is seeing 100% month-on-month growth in sales.  “I am quite surprised at our growth,” says Richa Kar, CEO. “We get most of our orders from small cities and towns such as Girudi in Bihar, Padra in Gujarat and Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. We see this as an achievement.” 

Tiered story

It’s not just Zivame. The entire e-commerce industry is getting its maximum growth from tier 2 and 3 cities. While buyers in tier 1 cities shop online for convenience, shoppers in lower-tier cities turn to online stores because their preferred brands don’t

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