by Punit Mehta, Founder & Chapter Leader, RedBar Bombay
A clear by-product of COVID-19 is the evolution and rise of the e-commerce business model.The current situation of the world with the pandemic staying for over a year, has not only affected the businesses but has also impacted consumer behavior to a large extent. Although there has been an unprecedented shift towards the e-com way of life, consumers still have the same demands from the e-commerce platforms in terms of customer experience, well at least similar. That being said, one of the key reasons for the rise and success of e-commerce platforms at such an astounding rate seems to be the “convenience” angle. According to a report by Linnworks, 76% consumers consider convenience to be a top priority. No surprises here!
According to a report by Mckinsey & Company, the consumer in India has become more focused on value based products rather than luxury. We are about 80% + more likely to change our shopping behavior. Another very interesting find is that 61% of Indians in the research have shown acceptance to returning to “normal” activities once the Government lifts restrictions, along with basic precautions. (Exhibit 1)
Another interesting find in the same report was Indians have shown good number of positive growth in online shopping in comparison to the pre-covid days (Exhibit 2)
Can we safely assume, that most of us will return to brick & mortar watch buying soon? Or do we prefer the new normal of buying everything from tomatoes to Tag Heuer’s online? For now, parts of the country are still in lockdown. People are still skeptical about going out there, especially to buy something that is essentially not a necessity, a watch.
With retailers, brands and third-part websites, all ramping up their online portals, we can safely assume that online shopping, for watches particularly, as a concept that is here to stay.
Here are just a few tips to quenching your thirst for watches online:
Know the seller: From the plethora of online sellers from facebook hives (marketplaces) to portals like watchuseek, watchrecon, chrono24 etc. to retailers who are AD’s for various brands, you need to first buy the seller, then the watch. Make sure you verify the creditability of the source before any transaction whatsoever.
Ensure the fine print is clear: A picture speaks a thousand words but with photoshop it could also tell a thousand lies! We strongly recommend you read that * sign with fine prints, terms and conditions and policies, which are usually mandatory on any credible e-commerce website.
Check the return policy: Without physically trying it on, a watch can have its own surprises. We’re not just talking about the physical damage here but, things like sizing, shade of the dial, overall style of the watch or the strap. Well, the basic ergonomics. The returns policy for expensive products can be very different from other products.
Check the delivery details: You seldom want to order something online today and wait almost 20 weeks to get your hands on it right? (The usual waiting on many watches!). It is imperative to check the delivery terms, duration, charges and insurance coverage for the same.
Avoid paying 100% on order: Now this point is mainly valid for pre-owned watches when the seller is not a AD. It’s not just about being cheated but, sometimes the expectations of online transactions do not match the reality of it. Ensure if it’s the real deal or not!
A pre-owned buy: We cannot reiterate this point enough! Check the credibility of the seller, the pictures, the videos and the references before you pull that trigger. The pitfalls can be many, from repainted dials, replaced parts, movement issues and so on. To put all your doubts to rest doubts, it is imperative to do your research and also check back with the brand/AD to check the authenticity.
The document check : Since the online model is new and not just limited to third part sellers, make sure you thoroughly inspect all the documents like the books, warranty cards, invoices etc. before accepting the delivery of the watch. Most watches come with a two-year warranty, however sometimes watch brands do not honor this unless bought from an AD. That being said, many online portals offer their own warranties which you should watch out for. What is the guarantee that they will still be in the business when you want to fix or service your watch?
Online import purchases: Now that’s a tricky one. When importing watches, you must ensure that you check the customs duty & other charges which will be levied while importing your watch. Often the charges are as much or sometimes even more than the cost of the watch!
Current practical options In India: Ethos, Swiss Watch Company, Art of Time (coming soon), Helios, Titan, TataCLiq and brand specific websites.
Watches are a part of your emotional investment, the best approach has been research online but buy offline as the buying experience from a boutique is a part of the entire package. However times are changing and we have to adapt. The question is – at what cost? Our advice, well to save a few bucks here and there do not sacrifice your peace of mind. Do yourself a favor and deal with authorised dealers only!