How e-commerce websites are stealing away customers

Offline retailers have observed a 50 per cent decline in their sales, due to heavy discounts offered by online platforms

By   |  Published: 25th Oct 2019  7:02 pm

Festivals in India are known to be vibrant and full of life. With Diwali being right around the corner, everyone has their plate full. Be it cleaning and decorating their homes or shopping for their well-wishers. But considering our already preoccupied lives and a long to-do list for the season, we usually don’t get the time to visit various stores to fulfil all the festive needs and necessities.

Online shopping has been the answer to this problem since quite some time now. There’s hardly anything that you’ll not be able to find on any online shopping website. From clothes to shoes, electronic lights to traditional ‘diyas’, gadgets, food supplies, all Indian desserts and sweets, these websites have got it all covered.

Terms like ‘The Great Indian Festival’ and ‘Big Billion Days’ have become the talk of the town as amidst the celebratory season online shopping websites are offering enormous concessions simply to compete with one another, putting their offline competitors at a disadvantage.

Speaking to some of the small traders, we found out that the reason why these huge discounts are an issue causing distress among them is because this makes their business unviable as it destroys the worth of a product in the minds of a consumer.


“Everyone wants to buy sweets online. This used to be our peak sale season, but now customers think as to why should they buy anything at a higher price when they can get the same thing at a discounted rate,” says Balaji, a sweet shop owner near Alwal.

The transactions that are made between a customer and an online retailer seem to be strange as they are deliberately decreasing the prices of products just to attract more customers. Because of this tactic the online companies may see profits in their accounts as compared to the offline traders.

“Previously, it used to be only mobile phones and clothes, but now these online retailers are taking over small grocery shops and supermarkets. It’s evening now and I have only sold a very few diyas since morning,” says Gayathri, who runs a small utensil store in Secunderabad.

The offline traders feel that the e-commerce websites are selling everything at a lesser price than the purchasing price itself, which seems quite bizarre. They feel that the maximum retail price, called the MRP, of all products should be the same on all online and offline platforms.

This has become a massive issue that the Indian government is also looking into the matter, wanting a full-fledged inquiry as to how are they compensating and making up for all the losses incurred because of the discounts offered. These kinds of schemes may look fancy on the outside, but are surely involving some malpractice.

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