Selling Shampoo Online is Hard

Currently there are two ways of buying shampoo and other daily-use products:

  1. Walk up to your local general store and name the product you wish to buy. He will go in and get it for you. You see it and immediately know it is what you want.
  2. Drive to a large shopping centre and walk around with your cart. Whenever you visually recognise something you want, just drop it into your shopping cart.

Now, we have to agree that the first method is less convenient and the second method is more convenient in terms of thinking of a product and letting the world know you wish to buy it. Unfortunately today, online buying is at one end of this spectrum; the less convenient end.

It is far worse than your local store, because instead of just speaking the name of the product you have to type it in correctly into a search box, then skim through the options that come up. Also, this is not a visual process because of the tiny thumbnails.

Recently I had to buy a shampoo, and I opened up Flipkart to buy it. I typed in the name, and got the wrong spelling. I tried again and got a list of search results. Now came the hard part, I had to decide whether I wanted the 400ml one or 200ml one. In a shop, I would glance at the size of the package and pick one easily. Here, the images showed the respective packages at the same size.

Once I added that to my virtual shopping cart, I proceeded to add shaving accessories. Soon, I gave up. Next time I was in a shopping centre, I spotted it and remembered I had to get one. I swiftly dropped two of them into the shopping cart.

That is a win for the old way of doing things. Definitely something is wrong.

Guess what, the online store has something that the physical store doesn’t. It knows who I am and my purchase history just as I have entered the store (opened to website). Shampoo is something we need to buy every month, and most likely it is the same as the one bought last month.

It would be so much better if after purchasing a product online I could add it to a list, a monthly shopping list. Slowly, it would contain the items I always buy at the mall every month.

Now suddenly the act of buying these items has fallen on the easier side of the above spectrum. It’s super convenient. Every month, I go online, click buy all on my monthly shopping list, and add or remove a few items, if needed. A monthly purchase of a thousand rupees from Flipkart. That is enough incentive for a such a system to be in place.

A concept that fell on the difficult end of the shopping experience has now been switched over to the easier side. A win for the new way of doing things — buying online.

And one more thing. I no longer need to lug those heavy and huge shopping bags home from the mall!


Originally published at paramaggarwal.com.