Surrender to e-commerce; OR, the Power of Disintermediation in Retail

12 Dec

second hand books store

I did the unthinkable! I did it! I ordered clothes – yes, CLOTHES – online! This, after having laughed at my young nephews and cousins, who ONLY buy online (we swear that the flipkart/ myntra/ jabong delivery guys ALL know our address better than their own! because of young nephew Dhruv, who ONLY seems to shop online – some of those exciting looking brown paper packages don’t even get opened! ) My point always was, OK, I understand buying books and music online (though even there, why would you deprive yourself of the pleasure of the lovely lovely smell of books…and, if you really want bargains PLUS better olfactory sensation – go to second hand book shops! I think I know ALL of these in ALL cities I have ever lived in, and am on first name terms with the proprietors!). But, like I said, I still get it – standard items, MRP the only basis for comparison shopping, the great deals, very often a larger inventory available than at store, sometimes the hunt for that rare book that you aren’t getting anywhere else (I’ve bought many of my Chalet School editions online on ebay and amazon), the convenience of sitting at home and ofcourse, anyway you are ever connected, so you may as well order stuff. I also ofcourse get electronics – after all, where else would you get them cheaper! Thats why after all, Best Buy is supposed to be the store front for amazon!

But clothes – that touchy/ feely/ trial-ly/ dithery-over-colour and fabric thing??? When the malls as well as old mom and pop shops are, like, right next door? Not to think of the fact that a shopping trip gives me a reason to go out and grab a cup of coffee? NEVER!

Well, famous last words – I did order some (for my daughter Riddhi’s 13th birthday). Reasons?

a) I needed to buy a dress – this is a prospective teenager! – and, I don’t know where to buy them from physically (don’t wear them myself!), so, the web is easier
b) I keep ON getting offers/ suggestions for all these online stores on Facebook/ youtube/ email – see, advertising WORKS (I have to confess, this is probably the first time online advertising has worked for me – but, who knows, maybe I have unleashed a frankenstein within me who will now become the second shopaholic Becky (of Kinsella’s famous series)).
c) My cousin – yes the one who buys everything online – and then returns many of those (which piece of logistics very often I have had to get involved in) – showed Riddhi many really nice dresses recently on which she got fab discounts 🙂
d) Given that Riddhi’s social schedule gives her no time with parents, and I am desperately looking for avenues to bond with her, we had a great fun time shopping online!
e) I got ADDITIONAL 35% DISCOUNTS on all of them! (thats the interested-in-deals-but-normally-can’t-find-time-middle-class-me speaking!)

If you look at disintermediation, it first started with the big format organised retailers who bought directly from manufacturers, creating efficiencies in the supply chain. Despite the low penetration of organised retail in India (between 5 – 10%), specially grocery stores have become quite popular in urban India, with fairly large Indian players participating in the arena. (As most folks know, FDI in retail is allowed only to the extent of 51% in multi-brand formats).

(For an older POV on retail in India, pls click here, here and here). As I wrote here, in many cases, folks still patronize mom and pop stores for reasons of relationships/ convenience etc. I used to do the same – buy green leafy vegetables from street vendors sitting right outside my house. This was because a) I felt a little bad for them, and b) because I did think they were probably supplying me with fresher/ more “natural”/ organic veges that they were growing somewhere. Imagine my horror when, one morning, I went to the supermarket – also next door – to buy bread, and saw all these street vendors lining up at the supermarket cash counters – yes, you guessed it – to BUY BUNDLES OF GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES!!!!

vegetable vendor

I see Amazonfresh launched in San Francisco recently, good luck to them! We have our own version of direct delivery of grocery with Big Basket – lets see how that pans out. By the same promoter/ investor, we also have Blue Stone, an online jewelry outfit.

Finally, if e-commerce can also enable some good, why not? Click on this link to read more..

So, here’s to more online clothes shopping for me and the family…and less vegetables from the streetside vendor!


4 Responses to “Surrender to e-commerce; OR, the Power of Disintermediation in Retail”

  1. Kausik December 12, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    Hi Sangita;
    Very informative blog.
    I came to know that IBM lab is engaged in finding innovative ways that can change user experience dramatically while shopping using an e-commerce site. Quite revolutionary.
    Pls. see this link :


    • joshsang December 12, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

      yes these are really great innovations – we will wait and see..:)

  2. Deepak December 13, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    Hope you heard of this 3 day online extravangaza ….. All online ecom retailers giving grt discounts.

    • joshsang December 13, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      yep, thats why the happiness 🙂

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