Many internet and ecommerce websites try numerous offline methods to boost their sales and customer base such as TV commercials, newspaper advertisements. However, this does not work due to a very fundamental problem of internet availability in India. In some areas, internet connectivity is available at a reasonable price and internet users can surf the internet without worrying about expenses . In other areas, accessing the internet becomes expensive because of many reasons such as
1.Refusal to provide an internet connection by certain ISPs.
2. Bandwidth theft – the internet connection is used by someone other than the subscriber.The subscriber gets a slow internet connection and is forced to pay the bill for internet usage which some one else uses.
3. Hacking of computers and laptops by anonymous hackers, who remain unaffected and are well protected, while the innocent internet user has his or her life ruined due to the slander campaign and pay up for the damages caused by the hackers. The internet may have a lot of information, but it is not worth spending much time online, if the person is left penniless in his or her old age, or framed for crimes he or she did not commit.
4. Identity theft – online usage patterns are analysed, and one person spends the money, does the work, someone else gets the credit.
For a person with a non-IT background, it is very difficult to get any kind of support or assistance when the computer is hacked, as most other people do not face a similar problem. For example, I noticed that a certain Url was not accessible on a laptop. However, the same url could be opened on the laptop of other users sharing the same wifi connection.
An internet user has been trying to make a purchase on an Ecommerce website at home, but the connection is so slow (it is a 3G connection) that it takes 5 minutes to open a single page. It is not advisable to make the same purchase in a cybercafe using a credit card due to security reasons, so the buyer will be forced to buy offline.
Selling products through a digital marketplace can be expensive as the seller often has to pay a listing fee, subscription and a final value fee . Also some sellers leave feedback in an arbitrary manner with no consideration as to how it may affect the seller in the long term.
However, marketplaces have a large number of visitors consisting of both sellers and buyers, and unlike direct purchases, there is some mechanism in place to verify information about both the buyers and sellers. This may be useful for the seller, as these buyers may be converted into repeat customers for selling similar or related products. The user information can also be mined and used for formulating the marketing strategy in future.
A little known fact about working online in India is that for non-ecommerce online business owners, a person without an MBA, MCA or Computer Science degree or young enough will find it extremely difficult to get any kind of support. In fact, when this individual shops online, many substandard products will be dumped on the person in an attempt to waste money and manufacturers support will be encouraged to avoid giving after sales service. This problem is most acute for electronics products like netbooks/laptops/tablets and mobiles.
A netbook(Toshiba make) purchased online from F** had a power supply button which was not functioning properly. The keyboard started malfunctioning after 2 months , and even though the netbook was under warranty, it took more than 1 month for the netbook to be repaired. Similarly, a Blackberry playbook costing more than 12k is not functional, despite repeated follow-up with the service centre. The seller does not provide any proper customer support in this case also. Repeated phone calls and emails to the support centre are a waste of time, as customer support is not interested in solving the buyers problem. Additionally, the buyer may also be subjected to identity theft by ruthless criminal gangs, who will try to frame the online buyer in order to get credit for the online purchase. Many buyers buy online to save time, but the poor quality and lack of customer support results in wastage of time.
In such cases, though it may be a little more expensive, some buyers will revert to buying offline . If a laptop is purchased from a store, the buyer can get customer support, since it is difficult to behave badly in public. If it starts malfunctioning, the customer can take it to the store, where sales will usually help since they do not want to drive away other customers in the store. Some Online sellers should learn to treat customers professionally and not misuse the online purchases as a means to settle personal scores/prejudices.
The disadvantage of using the feedback score to judge a seller is that it is mostly manipulated and is not an indication of the sellers performance.
Analysis of the negative feedback on Ebay for one seller shows that:
1. Two thirds of the negative feedback is from competitors who are selling the same or similar products. In real life few businesses will promote their competitors, they usually do everything possible to damage their reputation. Then why is a competitors opinion treated as important on Ebay?
2. Many online sellers are targetted by ruthless and extremely well connected identity theft gangs.These gangs and their friends have no qualms leaving negative feedback, so as to damage the reputation and business of the seller.
One of the hallmarks of working online, is that people will carelessly give negative feedback just to spoil a sellers reputation,even when the seller has supplied the product as specified.
Another buyer who leaves malicious and unjustified negative feedback is
ashosts (Website ashosts.com )
Syed S Murtaza
Buyer shipping address:
Syed Shoaib Murtaza
Manzil I Hussaini Hassanabad Rainawari
Srinagar KMR 190003
Srinagar – 190003
Jammu and Kashmir
When asked to justify the negative feedback, this malicious buyer did not bother to reply. Unfortunately marketplaces do little to curb these buyers, forcing the sellers to look at other options.(preferably outside the internet industry where such behaviour will not be tolerated)
The reason ecommerce does not grow in India is that many buyers are extremely greedy , unfair and do not READ specifications.
Ebay buyer :j*
Buyer information: *************
Buyer shipping address: ******************
Purchased an “Free shipping, autoblog with web hosting , ad supported, parking alternative” on Ebay.
It was clearly stated that the blog was an autoblog ad supported , but this particular buyer made every effort to remove the advertising from the blog after login details were provided.
He then asked and got a refund, also left negative feedback, even though he is still using the free blog. He is then claiming to have paid Rs 800, though he has not paid a single paisa.
When buyers are so greedy , liars, dishonest and lack any sense of values, how can eCommerce in India grow?
Note : Buyer has since revised his feedback, after realizing his mistake.
A payment of Rs 720 was made to Infibeam to subscribe to Electronics for You magazine for 2 years using a virtual credit card . However, the payment receipt /acknowledgement sent by Electronics for You mentioned that they had received a payment of Rs 612 through Indiatimes Funds Transfer. The subscriber was also incorrectly addressed as “Mr”. This results in several unanswered questions.
1.Why did Electronics for You magazine receive only Rs 612, where did the Rs 108 disappear?
2.Does Indiatimes access all sales data from Infibeam ?
3.Why are payments made by an Infibeam customer routed through Indiatimes?
Reply from Electronics for You support, email@example.com
Thanks for your mail.
We are unable to send you the payment details as we do not such details,regarding this please contact to your bank.
Indiatimes was contacted on Twitter but has not replied back.
Infibeam customer support says that they are looking into the matter.
If any reader can provide any inputs, it will be appreciated.
Most large online stores in India have custom built software for their online shops, but is not feasible for many smaller merchants to invest large amounts in developing a ecommerce store. For these merchants, an online shop is an additional sales channel and ecommerce platforms are used for the online shop, which allow merchants to easily add their products to the store and manage sales. Unlike international payment platforms like Paypal, Payza (Alertpay), Skrill (Moneybookers), LibertyReserve, where a fee is charged only for when a product is sold, these ecommerce stores charge a monthly fee every month. Some of these ecommerce platforms also charge a setup fee and a transaction fee.
The popular ecommerce platforms in India are:
1.Martjack – starts from Rs 2650 /month, payment gateway not included, number of products included depends on plan chosen
2.Buildabazaar.com from Infibeam, pricing from Rs 1000 / month, number of products listed depends on plan chosen
3.Zepo.in – basic version starts from Rs 500 / month does not include a payment gateway, but other plans include a payment gateway. Like other gateways, the number of products listed depends on plan chosen
4. GetaBox.in (from Plutus Retail Pvt. Ltd.) – only one plan at Rs 1000 / month, unlimited number of products can be listed, 5% transaction fee on completed sales.
Many online sellers list their products on online marketplaces , which may or may not charge a listing fee. However, payment from the buyer is transferred to the seller only after the buyer confirms receipt in some marketplaces. Some buyers receive the item, but make false claims of non receipt which results in losses for the seller. Seller accounts at these marketplaces can be suspended if the negative feedback against the seller exceeds a specified threshold. This results in feedback manipulation as some buyers sign up only to give negative feedback to the seller, lower the feedback score, making it difficult for the seller to sell in the online marketplace. Marketplace place several restrictions on sellers of digital products such as :
1.Selling of ebooks is not allowed.
2.Linking to website urls is not allowed
3.Contact details should not be provided by a buyer to the seller.
To overcome the above problems, many online sellers are developing their own online shops using the ecommerce platforms discussed above. However, driving traffic to these online stores can be time consuming initially.
Recently there have been some women centred ecommerce websites , but it will take some time for these websites to break even. For example, one beauty website still sells less than 1000 units a month, several months after it has been launched.
This is because a woman entrepreneur is judged solely on the basis of her looks , her speaking style, (and her housekeeping skills) not her technical skills, knowledge or experience. Even if a lady entrepreneur has websites for more than 10 years, very few of her vendors will acknowledge her , despite spending many lakhs of rupees with them. Instead, they will abuse their powers to spread blatantly false rumours that her revenues are “gifts” from relatives , encourage identity theft, and support people making false allegations against her to extort money.
Another aspect that few write about, is how online purchases are treated as an opportunity to dump poor quality /damaged products on the customer. At least a few times, the clothes purchased online were very different from those listed at the website, they seemed to be “customised” by the seller so that they were most unsuitable for the buyer.
Till women are treated with more respect for their technical abilities, competence, knowledge by internet companies , not relationships or looks, and subjected to identity theft attempts, online purchases will be limited.
Since Ebay is a marketplace, feedback is an important consideration while buying a product online.
Often genuine sellers on Ebay receive negative feedback from buyers on a regular basis. Many of these buyers are non serious buyers who register and buy an item for the sole purpose of giving negative feedback. Even if the payment is refunded, these buyers will refuse to remove the negative feedback. Contacting these buyers by email or messaging to find out what the problem is does not help at all, since these buyers often do not reply. Even if the seller calls the buyer or sends an SMS, the buyer will refuse to reply, since the feedback is given for the sole purpose of harming the sellers reputation. Ebay has a mechanism of appealing against the negative feedback, but using this mechanism is some times a waste of time.
One way the effect of negative feedback can be negated or reduced is by increasing the number of positive feedbacks. For a new seller, one option to increase the feedback score is to purchase a few items. It is advisable to purchase low cost items with free shipping initially to reduce expenses as shipping expenses for physical products are often prohibitive. Also many sellers do not ship to remote areas, so a seller in such places can purchase digital products which are delivered electronically.
For digital products with free shipping, check