With the significant increase of internet penetration across metros and non-metros, shopping online on apps are becoming a new-age trend in the Indian market and according to a recent survey by Criteo, the performance marketing Technology Company, about 74 percent of Indian participants in the survey stated they have installed two to five retail and shopping apps on their smartphones.

In India, the sale of consumer durables ranks among the top-three categories in the online domain. Players tapping into an open commerce marketing ecosystem and using technology and data analytics to help shoppers find products of their choice and need along with factors such as e-wallets, improved net banking facilities are playing significant role behind consumer’s changing buying behavior.

Cities such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi saw the highest preference for online shopping in 2016. Seeing this noticeable change in consumer behavior e-commerce websites are improving their policies and coming up with new ways such as attractive EMI options or no cost EMI options which enhances affordability factor for the consumers.

Also, the lifestyle of individuals in metro cities and the time and distance crunch is a major aspect behind consumers shifting towards online platforms as the hectic daily life doesn’t spare much time to go and check on offline stores. Secondly, heavy discounts on products are almost available through-out the year which gives consumers the freedom to shop almost at any time of the year. Considering this, even offline stores are trying to upgrade their game to compete with the changing scenario by bringing up their online presence. 

Having said this, while this trend is more visible in metro cities, consumers in tier 2and 3 cities are relatively skeptical when it comes to buy home appliances from online websites due to various reasons such as time taken for delivery, fear of damaged product or no warranty on their preferred brand. Consumers still have an inclination towards shopping offline, especially when it comes to buying home appliances such as AC, refrigerators and washing machines considering the touch and feel factor. 

Another reason why consumers are hesitant to purchase via online stores is the recent introduction and implementation of GST, which needs further clarity, hence buying from the local stores becomes consumer’s first choice. But the prime factors due to which people in non-metro cities still do not prefer online site for big purchases is the age old tradition of buying from the offline stores, taking manual demonstration and then make the purchase.

Platforms such as Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal where one can find everything are still not able to replace offline stores completely. However, they are already in the race, trying to upgrade their services on daily basis to provide their consumers offline stores feel and break the psychological barrier- Amazon recently introduced the touch- n- feel e-shopping feature on their website which will help overcome this hurdle with the introduction of 3D videos. 

It is very evident that Indian consumer are getting more and more comfortable about online shopping due to easy payment options, return policies and faster delivery time and various types of discounts which attract consumers in metro cities but in non-metro cities where smart phones penetration is pretty high, online shopping is still not very popular among consumer as online shopping is not as finically beneficiary as for metro cities, their preference for age old tradition, confusion around the policies and process which will be creating a hurdle for another 5 to 6 years for online websites.

In today’s market, irrespective of preferences towards online and offline stores, it is imperative to correspond attention across all channels. The Omnichannel approach not only gives the consumer an option to shop at the store but also gives him the convenience to shop anytime anywhere. The gradual shift towards Omnichannel strategy will not only assist retailers to re-think their business strategy in order to tap the best of both worlds but also maximise footfalls. The key to creating an effective Omnichannel strategy understands how your customers interact with your brand at each step of the customer journey. -  ET