E-commerce Has Come a Long Way. And This Project is a Proof of That.


I had to move into a new house a few months ago. And being an avid e-commerce buff and an evangelist of sorts, I decided to conduct an experiment - to try and furnish the house without ever stepping into a brick and mortar store. 

All the furniture, wall, floor and lighting decor, almost all the electronics, hardware fittings like kitchen sink, door latches, and many of the plants you see below were sourced through online channels.

  • All purchases were all undertaken at: Ebay, Snapdeal, Amazon, Urban Ladder, Pepperfry and Fabfurnish. 
  • Just-dial was used for vendor listings where services were needed.
  • OLX was used for sourcing excellent/under-warranty products. 
Two months later, the house is 90% there. And it turned out well enough. 

All of this provided an excellent data set. So I put together a table which showcases the strengths & weaknesses of the current e-commerce players in India.

(click image to enlarge)

Legend:



Here are some additional notes:
  1. There's a reason Flipkart doesn't list above. Despite being a Flipkart First member, I've stopped shopping at Flipkart a while ago for reasons listed here
  2. Snapdeal seems to have secured most of the vendors available on eBay. Many vendors however seem to remain remarkably committed to eBay and tend to price the same product lower on it. 
  3. eBay has the highest product diversity. If you can't locate a product on Ebay, the chances of it being available on other sites is close to nil. This will surely change overtime. 
  4. Amazon, probably has the lowest product diversity for a large format store. This is rather disappointing since considering how Amazon does well on so many other scores, I always try to locate the item on it first. But it yields very little. 
  5. Returns undertaken on Snapdeal were exceptionally high in number. Which leads me to believe their vendor QA processes are rather weak. Product specification too is often disappointing. Most product images seem to be altered way beyond reality and at times are simply mis-leading.  
  6. Returns on Snapdeal however are always dealt with promptly. I was able to secure refunds every time. What was highly annoying however, was the amount of follow up calls I'd get despite having clearly stated the reason for returns & providing refund modes. 
  7. Snapdeal also seems to be manipulating product return feedback. Often times, though the feedback provided at return was that of the product being of low/terrible quality, on the return form, the return reason stated 'Customer does not want product anymore'.  
  8. Urban Ladder is the undisputed king in the furniture segment. Their newsletter without a doubt is the best I've ever seen. Product diversity is low, but it's almost impossible to be unhappy with the product. Product specifications are spot-on and crisp. Pricing is un-inflated, honest. 
  9. Fab furnish, until a while ago was extremely disappointing. Discounts most often don't mean anything and pricing too was almost always higher. I have to admit I don't have enough data to correctly quantify them. But this seems to be a lost cause. 
Overall, a good experiment with good results. 
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