ECom in India – My experiences so far…

We have come a long way since eBay started shop in India as one of the major global brands. ECom has really blossomed and boomed in the last few years and I have tried quite a few such sites by now and will share my experiences and opinions on the same briefly.

One point to bear in mind is that nothing is perfect, all sites, companies and institutions have issues of their own. What we perceive of a company is our relative experience of the same. For example, if you never had an issue purchasing items from a company/site, it will remain your top choice…Till you run into an issue. It’s only when you have some problems in a purchase and the way it is handled is what differentiates one from another.

I guess most of us started with eBay when it opened up in India since it was already a known entity and that gave us some comfort of quality and service to start with. Since then, at least in my case, eBay gave me the confidence to purchase online and I have tried a variety of sites till date. As things stand today, my choice, rating and a brief of the sites I have used are as follows:

FlipKart

I avoided this site when it started since it was relatively unknown and I am not really a gambling kind of person who would take a chance on a high value “deal”. Today, the scene has changed drastically and FlipKart is my #1 choice. Their logistics (delivery etc) and customer service are really fast and good. I have had a couple of issues with some purchases which were resolved fast and using common sense instead of quoting “process”, which is a typical call centre response with most other sites. FlipKart does not dole out discount coupons or has discount tie ups with banks and cards like eBay has and therefore does not seem very attractive “deal” wise. Also, it is not really competitive in pricing compared to Amazon, eBay or Snapdeal for the most part, but, has the best customer service and response time and therefore my preference. FlipKart has iOS and Android apps.

Amazon

Amazon India is my #2 choice for now. Like FlipKart, they do not dole out discount coupons or have discount tie up with other banks and companies, but, their pricing is generally good. I only had one issue with my first purchase from Amazon which was resolved in an hour. Since then, so far, I have had no issues with any item I have purchased from Amazon till date. There are items you can find on Amazon which you might not on any other similar site. Amazon, like FlipKart, has delivered stuff fast. Amazon has iOS and Android apps.

SnapDeal

Snapdeal, as the name suggests, does have the occasional coupons and some ongoing deals. Prices can be very attractive at times. In my few, limited purchases, I have had no issues and therefore cannot comment on the customer service so far. They generally tend to deliver stuff in reasonably fast timelines, although somewhat slower than FlipKart or Amazon. The site does not work as expected in Apple’s Safari browser and I have to revert to Chrome or Firefox for this site. Snapdeal has iOS and Android apps.

eBay

eBay was the site that gave me the confidence in online purchasing to begin with. I have over 150 purchases from eBay at last count ranging from a Rs.100/- led torch to a MacBook Pro. eBay has good promotion tactics, offers discount coupons on a regular basis, has tie ups with banks to provide some discount on all purchases round the year. Overall, the marketing strategy makes eBay very attractive and competitive on prices.

Sadly, the quality of customer service and issue resolution is something one would really want to avoid now. I have run into a couple of issues recently, actually, still have a pending claim for a non-functional item, and their current customer support staff that I have interacted with seem to be almost completely untrained and process oriented with no common sense or logic.

I think ever since eBay took shipping in their own hands for their “power sellers”, the situation has gotten out of control to a large extent. There is more friction between the vendors and eBay in which the customer suffers the most. Part of the issue is also the fact that eBay still does not manage logistics for the consumer and you have to ship stuff back yourself.

So, why would I still purchase from eBay? The reason was simple, the price I was getting for the identical item, when compared to other sites, had a substantial difference. The ability to apply the almost endless supply of discount coupons makes it even more appealing. Most of the time, in my case, the temptation of a far better deal gets the better of me. In the first case, about a month ago, I ordered the item at a higher price from SnapDeal after the issue with eBay. Not sure which way the current case will head as the vendor already agreed for replacement, but, it’s now stuck in the process with eBay.

To summarise, go with eBay if you get a really good deal, price wise. For small differentials, eBay can be avoided. If delivery times matter, then eBay is also best avoided. A majority of my earlier purchases were fine and the transactions went off flawlessly. I have started having issues only in my recent purchases of some value. So, although eBay still remains a choice, but, with some constraints now. I have recently purchased stuff from Amazon, FlipKart and Snapdeal for a slightly higher price than eBay since the delivery time mattered and I got all those in time.

I could not access the eBay claims page on Safari, although it works fine in Chrome and Firefox. eBay has apps for iOS and Android.

PepperFry

Overall reasonable experience. Not a very responsive customer support, but, just about okay. You can get decent deals on home appliances and furniture here. All the items I have tried from this place have been good so far.

They do not appear to have any apps so far.

ShopClues

The ShopClues marketing and strategy are very attractive. Somewhat similar to eBay. They do have some major issues with the site being up and down and saving address etc. First time users might not find it a breeze to register and start shopping.

Although ShopClues has all the right ideas, the implementation is non-existent. They will arrange for pickups in case of issues/returns, but, they have no timelines for any process. The common statement is “soon” with no dates/timelines. Customer support is generally very slow to respond and sometimes not at all. It seems more like a government process that stuff will get done, but, no one knows when.

I have not tried to purchase any high value items so far, but, have made quite a few small purchases primarily for the attractive looking “deals” they keep coming up with. After a few months of that, I decided that almost all those “deals” were essentially junk purchases. One in a hundred might turn out to be a real deal and I actually got one of those as well.

If timelines are not an issue and you are okay with following up issues with customer support on your own, ShopClues is okay for the “deals” part. Most of the regular items are generally better priced on other sites including eBay.

ShopClues only has an Android app which has been in beta since I first tried it.

Bhaap

This site claims to have the best prices for any items they list. The fine print reveals the caveat though. For the most part, stuff here is good and priced competitively. Although, in some cases, you can find much lower prices for the same item on other sites including eBay.

Their delivery times are longer than most others. Customer support has improved over time and I have had no real issues so far excepting their site issues where the orders and tracking did not work for quite some time.

Tradus

This is possibly one of the worst designed and implemented sites of the lot. I have been able to add items to the cart and when I get to payment, it says that the items cannot be delivered to my address. Customer support had no answer to this and I stopped using the site. I was primarily using it for veggies, but, now I order directly from one of their vendors from Jags Fresh.

NaapTol

Some might have seen this and the next one on TV and other ads as well. They have good customer support and you can get some decent deals at times. In case of any issues, make sure you follow up with them. I have never been able to use the coupons they sent with my first purchase for any item that I tried purchasing from the site after that. I don’t use this site much, but, look at it at times in case there are some decent deals around.

HomeShop18

My first purchase from this site turned out an issue. I had ordered 5 pieces of a cream since they had the best pricing on the same. I got only one tube in the package. I reported the issue, followed up a few times with the generally clueless customer support and then gave up. I actually got the remaining 4 tubes about 2 months later. Their site has some major issues with email/issues and tracking. Maybe fixed now, but, I have not gone back to the site after the initial experience.

PayTM

PayTM started off as a mobile recharge site, but, has since diversified into a variety of areas including a shop and a wallet. Customer support is very responsive and I have had no issues with the recharge part so far. Their recent tie-up for payments with Uber makes it even more useful. They have iOS and Android apps which function as expected.

PayUMoney

Nice payment gateway with quite a few usable discounts just for using this. Good customer support and site.

MobiKwik

This is essentially a wallet that also caters to recharge of mobiles etc. Very bad site design and implementation. If you recharge and close the browser on the same page, it will recharge again when you open the browser the next time. Slow and not very helpful customer support. Best avoided unless you have a good reason for using it.

DogSpot

This is where I get most of the stuff for my Apso. The site and item descriptions leave a lot to be desired as also their inventory. Overall, the best site for pet stuff so far. I do get some stuff from Amazon and at times from Heads up for Tails though. Just depends who has what in stock and at what price.

Although I have tried quite a few others, including Shoppers Stop, it’s just been a purchase or 2 and quite some time back and therefore I have not mentioned any of those here. The sites mentioned here are those that I frequent or have tried recently. I have also placed an order on AliExpress and am looking to try out DealeXtreme as well in the near future. Both have free shipping to India.

Hopefully, this information might help to make more informed decisions when buying stuff online.

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