I saw my son stocking his kitchen at an online store in Mumbai. The big truck would come and the guy would bring frozen food in blue plastic containers, red meat and poultry, and green fruits and vegetables. And it was easy to store them properly. I figured it was a great way to shop at home without driving into the labyrinth of traffic and going to crowded supermarkets.
Before the pandemic broke out, purchasing necessities had not caught on in India. Before, there were a few firms doing online business. Their patrons I saw were young executives in our apartment complex who would rush out to work in the morning and come home only late in the evening. For them, the doorstep meant warmth. Even, without having to go, it gave them a fair choice of various varieties.
For my age , online shopping is a totally new phenomenon. So many are denying the definition of it. Our neighbour ‘s mother, in her early sixties, really doesn’t like thinking about it. She tells her daughter to let her go and buy fresh vegetables in the morning from the vendor who carries them. Before deciding what she wants, she likes the idea of picking it up, touching and feeling it with her hands. Instead, she ridicules the notion of shopping for vegetables online. How would anybody buy it just by looking at the screen? “Even the rotting and decayed vegetables are not picked and sent,” she says in a disgruntlele.
These days, it is becoming a completely different experience for me personally. By merely looking at the website, I pick fruits and vegetables. Order accordingly then. The delivery time is assigned to the convenience of the client. When the delivery hits your doorstep, if not to your standards, you should verify and complain. If a report is made, the money is refunded or the goods are altered. The scheme works in favour of the clients. The prices are fair and set, so no haggling is possible. And the best way to avoid crowded markets is especially in these times of Covid.
Even meat and fish can be ordered online and delivered at your doorstep. But the definition of this doesn’t suit my neighbourhood friend who enjoys going to the open market. The great built lady trudges out around 11 am, particularly to buy fresh fish. She feels relaxed looking at all the new items. She goes to a specific fish vendor who, with a little discount, still gives her fresh catch. She takes up the entire fish, runs her eyes over it and asks him to measure it. Before the lady bits, the polite seller then exchanges some neighbourhood gossip.
In online shopping, this human link is lacking. And that’s why there are regular trips to the supermarket. She discovers friendly faces and experiences the bazaar’s hustle-bustle and savours the sights and sounds.
For some years now, my daughter-in-law living in Ahmedabad has been adept at shopping online. On the shopping websites for clothing , shoes, luggage, cosmetics, household furniture and even bathroom tiles for their home, I saw her moving her fingers dexterously with her tablet. I have never really understood how she is sure of the quality and whether the size will suit well. Yet she became a veteran of shopping online. She would also see a whole pile of clothes she had ordered rejected. The colour or texture would look different from the image on the screen and would therefore be rejected. At times, it was inaccurate to photograph the items. She was pretty happy packing it again and returning it. In the virtual market, this was her online world and her shopping spree.
The enthusiasm and understanding of going shopping in a store are probably very different from the virtual world. Part of the fun is getting ready and going with your friends. And one could be in the most wrinkled night suit and unkempt hair with online shopping and still be shopping from the mundane to exotic stuff.
One thing is certain that you can buy anything and anything from a vast array of websites at very affordable rates, whatever fun we lack online. For such products, most of them have an exchange and return policy. During the pandemic, I realised the value and significance of online shopping. Most of us were left high and dry, specifically when the lockout was declared overnight. We didn’t have enough food in the house to stock up.
So, the only way out was to shop for essentials online. When the deliveries came, though with some hiccups, I was amazed at how life was going. Unbelievably, there was a packet of dry red chillies that had made its way from a remote place where the supplier was in Rajasthan.
Despite covid restrictions, a packet of dried prunes from the orchards of California provided from Mumbai to the online company had reached our doorstep. Commendable! Compliant!
Interestingly, in these times of Covid, the daughter of a family friend married with just 20 nearest and dear ones in a rather simple ceremony at home. From the bridal dress to all the items that were purchased online for the ceremonial ceremonies and delivered at their house. So the wedding was celebrated without fanfare and with many guests. The parents were happy that the engagement, which was their worst fear, was not postponed to a future date.
The online company has become prosperous these days. Sitting inside the walls of your home has become a better place to shop. And the shopping fever is on, particularly now with Diwali around the corner. All the knick knacks for the puja were delivered by many online companies for Karva Chauth. Using company gimmicks, wide online platforms attract festival discounts and much more.
This fresh notion is rising. Online shopping websites are rising by leaps and bounds in India. It has opened its doors, including for the conservative and reluctant lot. With just a tap on your mobile, it’s hard not to be untouched by the lures and convenience of this entire new way of shopping.