Theres an explosion in kids shopping,online
My first purchase online,ever,was on flipkart.com,just over a year ago. As somebody whos not very good with any kind of technology,Im inherently suspicious of it,and punching in my credit card details on a website reminds me of computer espionage,like the kind Sandra Bullock experienced in The Net. Paying online makes me feel weird and vulnerable,which might sound like the words of a fossil,still apply to many of us. Flipkart changed that,since,like many other law-abiding Indians,I believe staunchly in cash on delivery (COD): you pay,you receive. Immediately. Nothing like keeping it simple. But buying books,mixies and toasters is one thing. Ive never understood how women buy clothes online. Dont you need to try it on,no matter how great the outfit looks on the perfect mannequin wearing it? Its hard enough getting it right even after a trial and analysis in front of a full-length mirror. So many times Ive purchased stuff,only to come home and wonder,what was I thinking? But clearly there are eternal optimists out there,ready to buy with a click and faith in their hearts.
However,five days of having the flu let me experience Indias great online revolution and I am a convert,albeit a slightly late one. Statistics suggest that 2012 was the tipping point for online shopping in India: there was a 128 per cent growth in interest among consumers in comparison to only 40 per cent in 2011. Apparel and accessories emerged as the second biggest product category after electronics and theres been massive growth in niche categories like baby products,where Ive had my first lesson on the best and most buzzing websites for kids. I discovered babyoye.com and firstcry.com,since both pop up on my Facebook feed as do jabong.com and Flipkart,which have been on an overdrive informing their regular customers that they now stock fashion apparel. After spending at least 12 hours online checking out options in kids shopping,Ive reached the depressing conclusion that Ive wasted thousands,if not lakhs,shopping at malls paying for fancy retail space,when in reality,I could have shopped from the comfort of my bedroom at quarter the price.
Everything a baby or toddler needs,books,toys,clothes and shoes are available in overwhelming variety on Babyoye and Firstcry,at probably half or three- quarters the money you would spend at a Mothercare or Gini & Jony on a high street or mall. Besides all the big kids brands like Benetton and Lilliput,there are other smaller,niche brands like Bambiola to choose from. There are some riders though,to online shopping: you have to have patience,to zoom over every image,check whether the material is cotton or satin (in case you live in Delhi-like temperatures),and chances are when youve zeroed in on a particular garment,the size is out of stock. Having said that,the variety is so much,youre bound to find something,even if it isnt your first preference. From what I can tell,Flipkart still has the best systems in place regarding delivery and acknowledgement of order,but they need to get their merchandising right: most of the fashion apparel for kids looks tired and dated and theres not enough to choose from. Jabong has the best rates of all but their site is maddeningly slow and by the time it loads,an impatient online shopper has already moved on to the next option. Firstcry is easily the best of the kids sites,with the best deals for newborns and infants and terrific,prompt service. People opting for the COD service have to be verified so the order takes slightly longer. Babyoye is a close second,but their operations are slightly tricky. I ordered a lovely pair of black ballerinas for my daughter but a magenta pair turned up which were pretty nice too,so I didnt make a fuss,but customers should be wise to check the details of goods ordered,thoroughly. What does the online revolution mean for malls and stand alone shops passing on their obscene rentals to unsuspecting customers? Make hay,quickly,before shoppers wisen up.