NEW DELHI: Need to complete that marketing pitch? Sure, but there’s enough time to pick up a pair of shoes for the weekend party, all in a matter of minutes without the boss knowing. And there’s no need to step out of office. Maybe even the boss takes time off at work to shop for clothes, music and movies online.
As online sales surge, people are working and shopping at the same time. Quick breaks are being used not just to tweet or update the Facebook status, but to pick up a gadget or book as well. Online shopping sites such as Amazon, Myntra, eBay, Lenskart, Caratlane, Flipkart, GreenDust are busiest between 12 noon and 4 pm on a working day. More than half the sales of web-stores come on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and dips on weekends, when buyers head to brick-and-mortar stores in malls instead.
“Working hour visits are the highest—there’s a spike around lunch time and evening and dies out at night,” said Sandeep Komaravelly, vicepresident, marketing, Snapdeal.com. “Besides, weekdays are busy for shopping online, while weekend traffic drops by 10-12%, particularly on long weekends like this one.”
Snapdeal, which has eBay as its largest investor, claims 22 million members, 500 product categories and 20,000 sellers on its marketplace. Amazon gets about one third of its orders between noon and 3 pm with customers picking up everything from electronics to jewellery in these hours. Rival marketplace eBay.in gets most buyers between 3 pm and 6 pm. Lenskart gets half its daily orders of eyewear during working hours. Ditto for men’s fashion e-tailer basicslife.com.
Hasbro Clothing, the parent company of basicslife.com runs 100 exclusive offline stores and also retails via 800 multibrand outlets. “Office net connectivity is much faster than at home, prompting quick purchases at work,” said Sriram Ravi, head, digital marketing, Hasbro Clothing. “We get 20 per cent daily orders around lunch time and marked increase during office closing hours. People are done with the day’s work and use the last hour to browse and buy from shopping sites, while on weekends, sales in retail outlets are higher.” Average time spent in buying boxers or handbags or shoes online is five to 10 minutes and these are typically repeat buyers, familiar with a site and knowing what they want.
“E-commerce is a weekday shopping destination for most customers, while offline dominates on weekends. 80 per cent of the time spent on e-commerce sites is still on personal computers in offices,” said Ajay Modani, co-founder, Capillary Technologies. “We see spikes when people log in from offices. Repeat buyers follow this trend heavily.” Bangalore-based IT firm Capillary Technologies provides customer engagement solutions to retailers. Komaravelly added: “When buying in office hours, buyers have already done their research, know what they want. We have seen shoes, watches, mobile phones, computer peripherals and even flat screen TVs being bought in office hours. Convenience of home delivery over the weekend makes it attractive to shop at work.”
Same-day delivery options are also pushing buyers to shop during office hours. For example, eBay India offers nine-hour delivery, but for this, orders have to be placed by noon. At Amazon, orders have to be placed by 10 am to qualify for sameday delivery. However, both eBay and Amazon offer same-day delivery in Mumbai only. While at office, it’s not the smartphone but the desktop that’s favoured for buying online. According to Unbxd, which provides software for e-commerce companies such as Yepme.com and Caratlane. com, 70 per cent of transactionhappen on desktops and the rest on smartphones and tablets.
“In 2013, 10-15 per cent transactions were from mobile devices and now it’s increased to 25-30 per cent,” said Pavan Sondur, co-founder and CEO, Unbxd. “Most e-commerce companies are targeting 40 per cent revenue from mobile sales in 2014.” Part of the reason for slower adoption of smartphones for purchases is the lack of familiarity with apps and the better experience on the larger screen of a desktop. Also, retailers such as Myntra.com are yet to develop a mobile app. “Our mobile app is in the works,” said Vikas Ahuja, chief marketing officer, Myntra.com. “We expect half of our 20,000 orders daily coming on mobile phones in the next 12-18 months.”
While shopping for clothes to electronics and holiday bookings take place during office hours, bill payment (for utilities) dominates at night, between 8 pm and midnight. MobiKwik, a Gurgaon-based startup which claims 5.5 million users for its mobile payment service, sees peak traffic at night. Likewise, PayTM sees a peak at prime time, 9pm, with half the payments happening via mobile devices.