Going beyond the $2 Selfie Sticks

Most of the times, it’s products that are less meaningful and relevant that stuff that you actually require to have a better like. Imagine what if Amazon.com’s business model was based around selling crappy As-Seen-On-TV type of products. They’d never get there. They made it as the world’s biggest online store because they knew exactly what the consumer needed — and they delivered!

I was taken aback in shock when I discovered the number of Online Stores operating in Nepal. Just to count the active and the popular ones; it comes out to more than 50; and that’s an incredible number for a country where even a single proper payment method exists! Quite surprising.

So is this the best time to be buying stuff online? Well I don’t think so!

Unfortunately, what I see the problem here is the quality and purpose of stuff they sell. Apart from the Big Mart app, topping up my phone using iPay and the Foodmandu site; I’ve hardly made any purposeful use of the rest — and yes; that’s quite an alarming stat given the number of stuff I need versus the number of stuff I want to buy.

Recently, a vendor in Kaymu pretty much punked me (by displaying one item photo and delivering something else) and though I was successful in returning the good — my concern is; how much does that affect to the credibility of Kaymu, or tarnish the image they’ve built for themselves in the last few years? Or say, will I take GoGazzab/SastoDeal seriously if their inventory sucks big, big time! Or, trust Oliz Store that sells stuff online with more than 30% margin than the market price.

So now we have the number; high time we start working on the quality: selling relevant and meaningful stuff. I would WANT stuff till an extent, but what’s really important is what I NEED. Wants are temporary; needs are eternal — and that’s where I think the online stores should focus. Why does Big Mart app simply work? Because it sells stuff that you need. Why MeroShopping.com doesn’t work? Because I don’t need an fake selfie stick for Rs. 200 ($2). Even if a big name like Bhatbhateni Online (BBO — man, I hate that logo!) was a quarter of what it is physically, I guess one wouldn’t need another online store; but alas! BBO is such a big disappointment. No Bhatbhateni, I don’t want to buy Apple Cider Vinegar online; you know Nepalis don’t use that a lot in the kitchen!

Tackling the monster in the house; making payments possible

It would be otherwise to demand for other forms of payment at an industry that almost runs entirely on Cash on Delivery. That’s like you order stuff; then someone calls you to confirm if that’s really, really you; and then somebody comes to your place to drop to stuff and collects money and leaves. That’s fine — it works: but it won’t work forever. The basic problem with COD is that as soon as any of these business go into volume, it’s going to be tough. Handling 30–100 transactions maybe okay-ish , but what if (say what if) the number go up to 2000 customers a day. At times when internal money movement isn’t an issue anymore and when the banks and thankfully even the great Nepal Rastra Bank is okay to let you spend inside the country; I think we can start other forms of payments which are easier than what we have now. Come on! people have the money — they just want to spend it at the right place using the right means; and that should not be a problem to anyone.

“Call us for pricing”

Okay, I get it there is a lot of competition outside and revealing the price upfront could be a potential threat. But please as a customer, I hate that and it’s a big big turn off for me. So we believe ourselves to be living in this era where technology has helped us do the undoables. We celebrate the endless possibilities of consuming via the Internet — but we suddenly fail as soon as an Instagram post pops up showing a nice new dress; but refusing to reveal the price. Seriously, I wouldn’t call up to find out the price; if you can’t tell me how much it costs, the chances of me wanting to buy would drastically degrade. Think about it!

Content is the king.

Having said all this, one thing and one thing only that can change the landscape of online shopping/payment — is content. As long as you’re selling fake earphones, you’re not going to get there. Please please please work on the content (the products) and this goes out to all big and small shops, including big names like Kaymu, SastoDeal, GoGazzab, Thamel.com and Muncha. The product lineup isn’t convincing enough for me to want to spend.

Yes, I want to spend — please inspire me!

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