Mon, 27 May, 2019

A battle of businesses

The growing trend of online shopping is deeply affecting local businesses

12th May 2019, 03:06 Hrs

Sumitra KC

Earlier shopping meant going to any store and purchasing what one liked. For some it was a hobby but for others it was a chore. Love it or hate it, one had to shop for food, clothing and other necessary stuff. The concept of shopping has undergone a drastic change with the advent of online shopping apps and home delivery apps which have gained popularity in recent times. People can now order what they like just with a click of button. But this also has some negative effect on the sales of local stores and restaurants.

“I prefer online shopping as the price is lesser than the store. There is a variety to choose from and no need of travelling in search of the products we want,” says Jasmine D’souza, a medical representative from Mapusa also runs an online Facebook page ‘Ethnic Fusion’ dealing with sale of readymade garments for more than a year, admits that the online trade is a part time job for her. She got into this field through a person from whom she used to buy stuff for herself.

Contrary to this, Suleman, of a local cloth store ‘Mustafas’ in Panaji says that buying online is a waste of time. “When one orders online sometimes the size may not be appropriate or the material may be opposite to what is displayed on the website. But in local store, one can check the material and even try it out to see if it fits perfectly or not.” Zain Lakhani, of Grab shoe, a local footwear store in Panaji is of the opinion that, “Just by looking at the picture one cannot decide whether to buy or not and especially for shoes, one has to try them before purchasing.”

The customers mainly see where they will get products that are of good quality and affordable. On asking Jasmine if the products that she sells on her site are cheaper as compared to the local stores, she states, “It depends on the brand and the type of products the customer is in search of. But high end customers will surely get outfit cheaper and better patterns from online sellers.”

Sana Khan who runs an online store ‘Sana’s Boutique’ sells her products which are cheaper as compared to local stores. Sana says, “In online shopping images are graphically enhanced so they look shiny and glossy whereas 10-20 percent colour variation can happen. But fabrics will be as per descriptions given and if there is any variation in product it will be always mentioned in the descriptions.”

One also looks out for offers on the products that they want to buy. In this case both the local stores as well as the online sites offer percent discounts on regular days and on special occasions they come up with different marketing strategies in order to attract the customers.

But what if the product that we order turns out to be defective or of wrong size? There is no need to worry because the return policy which every online shopping site offers makes it possible to exchange or return the products. Ethnic Fusion has a return policy only if it is a wrong size, wrong item or defective. “One of my customers had ordered more than eight kurtis and 4-5 had size issues plus wrong piece or pattern issue. So it was a lesson learnt and then onwards I ask the customers to make a video of opening the parcel,” says Jasmine. She even makes sure that she displays the real pictures of the product and if it is not possible she guarantees the quality.

Some of the shopkeepers from local stores have return policy, while others don’t. Those who don’t entertain exchanges, inform the customers before the goods are purchased. Online frauds also happen. There are fraud pages on Instagram or Facebook which display a beautiful product with high price and no return policy. People get fascinated by such products and order it without knowing the pros and cons and ultimately end up getting cheated. This is one of the reasons why many customers do not trust online shopping and instead, prefer going to local store. For those who prefer saving some time and energy , prefer online shopping sitting at home. But eventually online shopping affects the business of the local stores.

Nowadays not only clothes or food but also medicines are being delivered at your doorstep. But is it good? Manisha Vaijankar, a pharmacist from Jeevan Rekha, Panaji is of the opinion that ordering medicines for TB and Diabetes is good. 

Buying medicines online, (eg sleeping pills or painkillers) sounds risky because the patient does not know the exact doses. So Manisha is against ordering medicines online.

Even home delivery for food has gained a lot of popularity today. “Home delivery is very much needed in today’s times. People who are busy have no time to cook at home. They are also reluctant to go out in the restaurants on daily basis and hence this gives rise to the demand for our home delivery service,” says Sanket Naik, the owner of Phoenix Foodkart.

Contrary to this the owner of Everest hotel, Asif Amanulla finds going to restaurants is the best thing because meal is served hot as compared to home delivery. “Also people can order food from any restaurant without any extra charges. Customers living at distant places are charged for delivery. Visiting a restaurant won’t be charged extra,” he feels. 

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