Online shopping catching fancy of Indian consumers

Around 8 million shopped online in 2012, said Google India. Its study also shows mobile phones are increasingly driving the surge in online shopping, which is expected to see exponential growth in 2013.

There was a time when marketers complained about the Indian consumer being skeptical of using plastic on the Internet. They want to touch and feel a product before spending money on it. But, if a recent study is to be believed, all that is changing--the Indian consumer now buys a lot online.

Citing data from Google Trends, a report compiled by Google India highlights exponential growth in interest among Indians in online shopping. The study was compiled by combining consumer interest observed on Google search along with online research conducted by market researcher TNS.

In the year 2011 to 2012, consumer interest in online shopping in India grew 128 percent compared to only 40 percent the previous year.

"With approximately 8 million Indians shopping online in 2012, the online shopping industry in India is growing rapidly and will continue to see exponential growth," Rajan Anandan, vice president and managing director of Google India said. "By looking at the trends in 2012, we expect 2013 to be a strong growth year for players who're focused on fast-growing categories like apparels and accessories, and niche product categories like baby products, home furnishings, and health nutrition. We expect the growth to come from outside of the top eight metros."

Consumer interest on Google search was the highest for consumer electronics at 34 percent, followed by apparels and accessories at 30 percent. Other product categories that Indians searched for online were books (15 percent), beauty and personal care (10 percent), home and furnishing (6 percent), baby products (2 percent), and healthcare (3 percent).

Trends suggest that consumer interest in apparels and accessories will be greater than consumer electronics in 2013 in terms of absolute query volumes.

With the growing mobile Internet user base in India , mobile phones are becoming a key contributor of the surge in online shopping. Google witnessed a two-fold growth in the number of queries from mobile phones from 2011 to 2012. Currently, 30 percent of all shopping queries in India come from mobile phones.

The research revealed that 90 percent of online shoppers intend to buy more products online, reflecting the positive experience of the users.

Consumers also highlighted some deterrents of shopping online, for instance, the inability to touch and try the goods before purchasing. Concerns over receiving faulty products and posting their personal and financial details online, and the inability to bargain were also cited as deterrents.