Life Simplified

E- shopping

1:50 PM

Growing up in Switzerland! my family like about everyone I knew was subscribed to mail order catalogues. They are an institution back home and before the internet era pretty much worked the same. The subscription was free and then twice a year you would get their 600 pages of clothes, appliances, CDs and home decor. Being Switzerland where authorities know where you are and evading paying your bills without consequences is impossible that also meant you had 30 days to pay the bill after receiving the goods, and something that didn't fit could be sent back in 7 days. It did make shopping for many things far less time consuming and hassle free. And even in the beginning of internet about 15 years ago, people still preferred these big comforting catalogues.

When I moved to India there was no such thing! there wasn't even e-shopping apart from indiatimes and fabmall, and then later e-bay. It is only in the past few years that the medium took off, and while Switzerland relies on the good old 30 days post paid bills, India has the option of cash on delivery if one does not trust credit cards, or the site in question to fulfil their part of the bargain and deliver on time. My favourites are Flipkart, Firstcry and Amazon.in, I used snapdeal in the past but their customer service if you need it is pathetic, and they are no longer a site I can trust. Goodlife.com used to be a favourite of mine, but they are sadly gone. Among the sites I heard good things about and am yet to try are Jabong, Myntra, Fabfurnish and zansaar. And the best e-shopping directory around is Junglee.com where you will find where some items are sold and at which starting prices.

Now the big problem with e-shopping in India is the reliability, some sites are bogus, have lousy customer service, cancel orders, send broken things, refuse to take them back or refund your money. If you are unsure about the quality of a certain site, head to Mouthshut.com before placing an order, this site is a consumer forum where people post reviews about sites and products, and while a lot of people go there to rant, you will immediately see that good reliable sites have far less rants than others. After making the decision to order from a specific site for the first time it is wise to place a cash on delivery order (COD), that way if the delivery drags forcing you to cancel the purchase, you don't end up loosing any money. To be able to place a COD order you need to provide a phone number, at which the company will call you before validating your order to ensure that it was truly your intention to place it. The problem with COD is that apparently getting refunds is much harder and many sites seem to compensate you back in store voucher, if the site is lousy that means you get stuck with them. My advice is that if you aren't sure about a site, test the water buying a small not to pricey item as your fist purchase, or find out if one of the big reliable player such as Flipkart or Amazon are offering a similar item, even if their cost is a tad higher than the super amazing discount you got on your lesser known site. Some discounts on some smaller sites are just too good to be true...and that is exactly what they are so stir clear of websites that offer you big popular latest mobile phones at nearly half the price when all the big sites are at the most offering you 10-15%. To offer discounts stores need to order bulk amounts of a product, a site like Flipkart is more likely to have the means to purchase such amount of units and store them than a little nobody tiny company with a poorly designed website, so know your red flags.

When you have any experience with one site, be it good or bad, pass it forward and go write a review on a consumer forum such as Mouthshut, you can help others make an informed choice and spread the word about a site. The concept of shopping online or by mail order is a very new concept in India, and like any business it is the race of the fittest, good service will stay, bad ones will go out of business, so spread the word about your experience. As I said my favourite is Flipkart, it is by far the most reliable of the domestic players, they have a quick processing, prompt delivery and their customer service always know what they are talking about, they even started to text the phone number of the delivery guy when your order goes out to delivery, so should you not be home that day you can call them to reschedule, making that company the one giving the kind of service I was used to back home...take my Swiss words on it. That site along with the other I named have made my finding specific items super easy, and not to mention ordering Christmas gift without Ishita knowing about them can only be done online.

While I used to order clothes in my mail order catalogue in Switzerland! I haven't done it yet here, I tend to have issue fitting my European frame body in Indian clothes because almost everything around is available in Asian sizes. So shopping online does strike me as simplifying in my case. But I have ordered books, pantry world food, cosmetics, CDs, appliances and Electronics without any problem. And books is the thing I order the less, nothing beats a good old fashioned bookshop for that, but Flpkart comes in handy when it comes to specific titles, and Amazon has books for my kindle app, books that are not easy to find at a decent price in hard copy on the Indian market I might add.

So which are your favourite sites for shopping?

 

5 comments

  1. Beatrix11:25 AM

    I keep a small chest & a basket full of toys in our living room for when children come to visit.

    I find that most Nepali & Indian children do not have 'quality' toys & rather suffer for it developmentally.

    I find that if Nepali & Indian children are given 'quality' or educational toys they are stored away where the child can not access them readily.

    It is rather sad that many Indian & Nepali parents don't realize how much toys can help children develop mentally & physically (i.e. fine & gross motor skills, observation & problem solving skills, logical thinking, etc.)
    Toys are important for children’s development because children learn mainly from doing things, not simply just observing.

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  2. yeah and another thing I noticed in India is that most will oncly buy toys that are clearly educational, as in ABC and 123 rote learning type, the idea that just role playing being a pricess or a cook or a dragon fighter is seen uneducative and frivolous by many, when it is in fact the most fruitfull type of play. building blocks, crayons, dolls, animals, all do promote honeing fine motor skills, creativity and problem solving. The other day Ishita decided to play with her old clippo blocks again, trying to build a tower, and that was amazing to see her trying to figure on her own how to stop the tower from crashing down, she very quickly got it on her own that the weight of the blocks needed to be balanced and that the base needed to be sturdy. Now I am thinking it is time to upgrade her to legos which will unleash fare more creative power in her.

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  3. Beatrix9:12 PM

    Legos rock!!!

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  4. Oh yeah! I remember playing with mine for hours as a kid, along with another building set that was made if big sturdy plastic elements and looked like mechano but for toddlers and small kids, the nuts, bolts and everything was super sized and easy to manipulate for a small kids, I build many things with both that one and Legos, and they are the kind of toys that encourage problem solving as well as creativity while teaching common laws of engineering and physics to kids...without being a boring lecturing toy.

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  5. Beatrix8:28 PM

    I wonder why Legos doesn't advertise itself as an 'educational toy'?
    With engineering being such a preferred career for Indian children I can't think of a better toy than Legos for budding little engineers.

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