Remember how Flipkart ran a series of TV spots a few years ago where children looked and sounded like adults and addressed the myths of online shopping? Yep. Those were the days when buying something only was believed to be risky, and there were concerns about reliability and counterfeit products. Brick and mortar retail giants scoffed at online retail and did not see it as a serious rival.
While the wheels started rolling in 2013 with the entry of Amazon and the expansion of Flipkart and Snapdeal, 2014 was the year when the stars aligned for online retail in a big way. The big three of online retail Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal snapped up exclusive deals with product makers which made these sites the only place to purchase some stellar products. There was also an expansion in payment and delivery modes -- cash on delivery was the hot new thing and Amazon tried to use existing kirana shops as delivery hubs.
Online retailers became the best places to get steep discounts and deals especially for televisions, laptops, clothes, footwear and more. The big headline grabbers though were smartphones. Online retailers entered into partnerships with smartphone makers Motorola, Xiaomi and Oppo to revitalise a segment that had become boring in 2013 with cookie cutter handsets from the likes of Samsung
The two marquee happenings in the world of online shopping were shopping festivals and fire sales. Flipkart’s effort to grab eyeballs with the Big Billion Sale turned out to be a bit of a dud -- no one likes crashing web pages and cancelled orders -- but the other big shopping events that followed worked brilliantly culminating in the Great Online Shopping Festival of 2014 (GOSF), which, in its third year, show the highest number of transactions yet. The three-day event was a huge success, with Google reporting over 1.4 crore visits to the site. When Xiaomi and other smartphone brands tried to drum up some excitement with flash sales, we woke up early and tried up snap up the artificially limited units on Flipkart and Amazon.
2015 looks promising. Online stores will have to watch up for miffed brick and mortar retailers and stodgy regulators, but they needn't worry. Consumers have already voted with their wallets.