A decade ago, Indians would browse through portals like Amazon or ebay to sneak peek what people worldwide are buying and what they should pay for something in their nearby retail shop.
Shipping costs were higher & ordering through Indian websites were risky because reputation of Indian portals were not very good.
Time changed ending an era of web spam and fraudulence. Good reputation became the bottom-line of any web related business and abundance of reviews, feedbacks and forums changed every rule of this game. Suddenly people started feeling secure shopping online! What a big change! The magic of internet- You just don’t notice the 180 degree difference through which it rotates you, till you genuinely start analyzing, after a while, the changes and the agents of change. True for individuals and societies at large, alike.
Flipkart, Cromaretail, Infibeam… are the places where I feel transaction is secure, products are genuine and pricing is the best. Probably you too feel the same. Very likely people near you are also of the similar opinion. Few years back, perception was just the opposite. A major barrier crushed, through remarkable services and transparent feedback system. Thanks to the parallel development of social networking platform, which makes experience sharing a viral phenomenon. Cheaters were obliterated and good ones started gaining ground.
Retail industry thrives on variety and volumes of the inventory.
Online retail is a slightly different game with volume being a non playing factor, because retailer don’t need to keep the inventory with themselves, they can be shipped directly from manufacturer/supplier’s warehouse, just in time, as opposed to the nearby retailer who has to maintain the volumes of each variety to serve them in real time. If online retail goes on growing, it might change the buying behavior in its favor for good. If, much likely internet tablet explosion, becomes a reality the landscape may change completely.
Probably this may go to the extent of online booking and scheduling the morning milk online and the vendor dropping you the bag everyday, because number of orders in your locality would make this economically viable. Let us postpone this for a while till we start seeing some major signs of it, because to some of you it might sound like a fiction. However, internet has proven it again and again that it may behave stranger than fictions.
There has been uproar on foreign direct investment in retail sector in India. A big apprehension against FDI in retail is that it might kill unorganized retail sector in India. However, the future seems to be of online stores killing them more likely rather than a WalMart or J C Penny chain. Whether you welcome FDI in retail or not, a major change in retail sector landscape is going to take place, where each player shall have to reposition themselves. It is going to be an overhaul of the entire value chain system, which means it is going to be a clash of retailing models and not just Indian vs. foreign retailers.