SHILLONG, Oct 13: It is no secret that online shopping portals have swept traditional retail shopping off their feet in recent years and this can be witnessed in the ensuing festive season starting with Durga Puja. Shopping, a part and parcel of this celebration, when all wear new clothes on all the four days has however undergone many changes with the online portals sweeping the shopping landscape.
It is being noticed that shoppers are purchasing new wears while riding an SPTS city bus, local cabbies, bus sheds, stuck in a traffic jam while driving and such other places, which is otherwise inconceivable in retail shopping. There are opinions from these shoppers that with the world being accessible in a smartphone, pretty soon retail stores are going to become irrelevant and more of a hassle to go to than anything else.
Of late, Amazon’s Great Indian Festival is pulling in the shoppers and retailers observe that these shopping sites are currently having a monopoly over the market. “There is no retail space left, only online,” said traders from the city’s commercial hub, Police Bazar.
They observed that although online sales look more attractive from every angle but it is always better to see things physically and then buy. To a query, retail shops from the city acknowledged the fact that to curb the growing trend of online portals, they need to come up with smart proposals if at all there is any chance of challenging them and remaining in the competition.
Similar responses are also received from shopping malls, here, who are worried about dwindling footfalls. Why online stores are more popular among the shopping class is because they provide customers with a price comparison platform, which is unthinkable. The discount matters most first to any buyer and online shopping sites are buzzing more on that count.
According to online shoppers, this platform is often faster, cheaper and more convenient. They say that it is easier to return a product, if that does not suit a customer’s taste and requirements, and claim a full refund, which is impossible in case of retail shopping.
Also, there is no timing factor since one can shop whenever and wherever they like. “One does not have to keep an extra time for shopping, like in retail,” said a shopper from Police Bazar – which is experiencing huge rush since Durga Puja is starting from next Tuesday. Another such shopper observed that retail shopping is tiresome since one has to hop from one outlet to another in search of what they are actually looking for.
In the online format, one can just sink in their words and the site filters everything that is on display. For these customers, the easy nature of online purchases, more sociable and better customer service is preventing them from seeing anywhere else.
Shopping malls on the other hand is witnessing a sudden drop in their popularities and according to the mall operators, public visit malls these days more for the entertainment quotient than real shopping. It is retailtainment, that is, retail marketing with entertainment. However, if customers’ responses are taken into consideration then retailtainment is nowhere to be seen in the town malls. In fact, this new type of strategy to get people to keep coming back is limited to sending SMS and other social media linking instead of what George Ritzer, the author of Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionizing the Means of Consumption, described “use of ambience, emotion, sound and activity to get customers interested in the merchandise and in a mood to buy.” There are also opinions from trade experts that e-commerce sites are making serious impacts in smaller towns too, as seen in larger cities.
Meanwhile, there are responses from traders from the commercial hub that sales have filliped in the recent week. Those who are combating traffic jams observed that one can gauge the fact that all roads in the city are leading to Police Bazar for the puja shopping. The five day autumn festival of Durga Puja is staring on Monday with Maha Sasti – when Goddess Durga arrives – followed by Maha Astami, Maha Navami and Dasami – immersion.