When my son wanted a new cycle, necessitated by his height which made the current cycle unusable (for quite some time I should say), we decided to do some investigation on the web.
It was interesting to see that, in India today, you could virtually buy anything online. I am not sure how many people do buy things online, I have not seen the statistics. But I discovered that Indian online buying experience has gotten better. So far, I have only bought movie tickets for the family, flight tickets (regularly), make payments to service providers, and order movie rentals.
I presume that online buying gets better if we are already pre-equipped with suitable knowledge. For example, I do not really see the need to go to a mobile phone shop to buy a phone – the item is so well known and described in such detail, that once you have decided the make and model, it is comparison-shopping on the web to determine the best deal and then place the order. More or less the item should arrive as expected. I am trying to do that exactly that now (buying a new phone).
In the case of the cycle, while it was not difficult to identify the model and features, etc., the determining factor was the “buyer behaviour”. In this case the actual user was my son, and he wanted “immediate gratification” once I have approved his purchase with grant of funds. He was against the online buying since he was well aware that any such thing ordered online was going to take a minimum of 4 to 5 days to arrive at home. So, he was always pushing for going to Hyper City’s cycle shop and buy the “damn” thing !
So, I had no choice, though I had good recommendations from my research on the web.
We went to Hyper City, and what did we see ? A decent lineup of cycles, no doubt, but only two makes – Raleigh from South Africa, and Hyper City’s own in-house brand called “Maxit”. I asked the salesman about BSA SLR, and other makes, but he said they do not carry other brands. That was a disappointment in terms of product comparison-shopping. Now, the determining factor is the comparison between just two brands and whether my son liked one of these brands. I tried to dissuade my son from making an instantaneous decision, by suggesting if we could go to another shop called Firefox down the road. But he was not willing to listen and even came up with his reason that Firefox bikes do not last long as per feedback from his friends !
Well, you can’t tackle such practical inputs. So, I focused on the decision-making between the two Hyper City brands. The price gap was significant – the Maxit geared 26″ cycle was some INR 3,999 as compared to INR 6,999 for a similar-featured Raleigh cycle. While I was tempted to try out the Raleigh, my son decided on the Maxit after the serious test drives that he did within the shop riding the bikes ! He also compared the geared cycle with the normal gear-less cycle, and then decided in favour of the geared one since he felt that there would be a need to navigate ups and downs in our apartment complex !
I do not understand why they sell cycles without basic accessories such as bells and (whistles !). So, we needed to pick up those accessories from the Raleigh lineup. I thought this was a good sales strategy on the part of the Hyper City management. You can pick up their house brand, but the add-ons come from the expensive Raleigh brand ! Good for them !!
It was a good learning experience, buying what I would have termed an high-involvement purchase though not a very expensive item. Since the product is going to be used almost everyday, the decision-making was rather involved and entailed a real product usage experience. I agreed that it would not be appropriate for online purchase.
Happy buying experience to you folks during this happy new year season !
8th January 2011