Why E-Commerce is hardly a success in India?

A few days ago there was a shocking announcement by one of the leading E-Commerce companies, Askmebazaar.com. The company shutdown all its operations because of cash crunch. They also laid off all their employees who were not paid their salaries since months. This made me sit up and realize E-Commerce business in India is not as successful as it should be. Except a few big players like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal etc., most of the E-Commerce companies are struggling. The primary reason may be because many of these companies are not well equipped to meet the demands. Lack of proper delivery methods, lack of innovative ideas, poor customer service are the primary reasons why they are failing. Let me share my experience which proves the point.

A month ago, the remote controller of the only Television set we have at home went bad. It is an CRT Television set which is quite old. Because the production of CRT Televisions have stopped, it was difficult finding the remote controller. I followed up with the TV Technician who said he is unable to find it in the Market. I then went to various E-Commerce websites to hunt for a TV Remote Controller. I finally found one which I wanted on a very old website. I will not give the name of the website for privacy reasons. This portal is not exactly a E-Commerce portal, but it has been doing E-Commerce business since a very long time, even before companies like Flipkart and Amazon were born. The website has a shopping section from where we can order stuff online and like any Indian E-Commerce company, they too offer Cash On Delivery (COD). Now, I placed the order on a Monday and chose COD as the payment method. I got an email confirmation from them saying my order will be delivered by Friday. The next day the Technician called me and told me he has found the remote controller and he will deliver it at my place. So, I emailed the website to cancel my order as they don’t have an order cancellation link. The next day I got a reply from them saying the order cannot be cancelled as the seller has already dispatched the package. They told me to refuse the accept the package when it delivers and that will automatically cancel the order. It sounded good enough to me. But, the package never arrived on the designated date. The next week, I got an email from them saying the package has been dispatched. It means they had lied when I had sent a cancellation email. The package never arrived. More than a month passed from the date I received the last email from them. And yesterday, to my surprise, I got an email from them expressing the inability of the seller to fulfill the order. I was like WTF!!! The way the order was handled by the company, I am sure it must have happened with many customers who buy things from them.

This is just one example of bad service by a E-Commerce company. It is the same story with majority of the companies. Till these companies realize the importance of service, there are very less chances of them succeeding. We may hear more such news of companies shutting down their operations. Even Investors will be reluctant to invest their money in similar companies. I hope the shutting down of Askmebazaar.com becomes a wake up call for the E-Commerce industry in India.

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