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Indians taking to buying online

Rs 29.5 crore worth gifts were bought online during the year 2004-05.

india Updated: Sep 26, 2005 11:07 IST

Call it the lure of the net or changing habits, but more and more Indians are logging on to the web for buying and sending gifts, though the choices are still traditional -- mithais, chocolates and flowers.

"Indians have always been very choosy when it comes to buying gifts as they want to see and feel a thing before purchasing it, but this habit is fast changing. Because of time constraint and also the vast choices available on the net, people now prefer to buy gifts online, says Preeti Desai, President, Internet & Moblie Association of India (IAMAI).

"Rs 29.5 crore worth gifts were bought online during the year 2004-05 and this is expected to double during the current financial year," says Desai.

IAMAI, which recently conducted a survey on online shopping, found that metros like Mumbai and Delhi account for 44 per cent of gift purchases, followed by Bangalore (8 per cent), Chennai (7 per cent) and Kolkata (four per cent). "Other towns and cities" category, which also includes small towns, accounted for 27 per cent of online shoppers and this holds great opportunity for gift marketers to spread their net wider, says Desai.

"Dry fruits, mithais, flowers and chocolates are the most preferred gifts while artificial jewellery and perfumes come net the price is very important factor in determining the gift. Most of the gifts bought were within the Rs 500 range," says Desai.

Agrees Manish Malhotra of Indiatimes shopping, "most of the gifts which people order are within Rs 400 - 500 range and include flowers, chocolates, wrist watches, perfumes, etc. The gift buying peaked during festival season, but was even seen otherwise... People buy online gifts for all occasions."

"Online gifting initially started with NRIs sending gifts here or people from India sending gifts to their relatives abroad on Diwali or Raksha Bandhan, but now it is 'Indians buying for their friends and relatives in India'... This has surpassed the earlier category," says Desai.

Also, the trend initially started with the young but today nearly 77 per cent of those who buy or send gifts online are in 18 - 35 category. Nearly 47 per cent of those purchased gift online were in the "Married with Kids" category, she says, adding most of the payments are made through credit/debit cards. In very few cases, payment is made on delivery.

"Online shopping for gifts is fast becoming a popular phenomenon because it is very convenient. More than the range of gifts, the USP of the virtual shopping centre lies in the services like 24/7 order tracking, pictures of delivery, the surprise element and sending gifts across boundaries to multiple locations which all facilitates the gifting experience," says Desai.

Online shopping for gifts has huge potential which the marketers can explore but as of today, it has not been able to move much beyond big metros because people do not think e-commerce is trustworthy," says Malhotra.

"Most buyers still want to see a product before buying. That mindset has to change and also people should be made aware of the benefits of online shopping for e-commerce to flourish," he says.

Agreeing, Desai says, "The future demand essentially lies in smaller towns and cities."

First Published: Sep 26, 2005 10:44 IST