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Bharath takes to e-shopping, catching up with India

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eBay India Census 2010.

The most sought-after product from rural areas on eBay is entry-level phones followed by desktops, and apparels.

Swetha Kannan

Anjali Prayag

Bangalore, Dec. 8

Keshu Patel from Adala in Gujarat is busy twiddling with his latest Nokia handset which he bought online, while Unnikrishnan from Ambalapuzha (Kerala) is gloating over his PC that has just landed at his doorstep.

Bharath is shopping online with zest and fast catching up with India. In the last one year, nearly a third of the users of e-commerce site eBay came from rural locations, some as remote as Kangayampalayam in Tamil Nadu and Abdalipur in West Bengal.

Phones in demand

Prompted by the lack of products in the physical marketplace, rural India has taken to online shopping actively in the last couple of years. According to eBay India Census 2010, the most sought-after product from rural areas on eBay is entry-level phones (they include the latest models that haven't yet reached their towns), followed by desktops, and apparels.

“We have seen a big increase in rural buying and selling from last year. This market is seeing the fastest growth,” says Mr Kashyap Vadapalli, Director – Category and Business Development, eBay India.

eBay's latest census consists of 3,296 e-commerce hubs (centres which witnessed ecommerce transactions on the eBay platform) in India. Of this, 1,054 are rural towns. Last year's (2009) census saw 2,471 locations, including 747 rural towns.

Technology, in general, is the most popular category across eBay, accounting for 48 per cent of the transactions. While metros are buying smart phones and the smaller towns feature-rich handsets, rural folks are buying entry-level models. Computer peripherals come in next. While in the metros (where people already own desktops and laptops) netbooks are being bought a lot, rural consumers are buying desktops which they see as being robust, according to Mr Vadapalli.

South ahead

eBay India Census 2010 (which takes into account transactions between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010) ranks Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Chennai and Bangalore as the top five e-commerce hubs on eBay. Delhi and Bangalore are the top two cities when it comes to buying online. South India accounts for 38 per cent of buyers on eBay, followed by West at 28 per cent. “There are more Internet users in general in the South, and this region also adapts to technology quickly,” says Mr Vadapalli.

According to industry estimates, the e-commerce market (excluding services) is growing at 30-35 per cent. The overall e-commerce market (which includes e-ticketing, travel, entertainment and utility) is estimated at Rs 20,000 crore. eBay has over 2.5 million registered users in India and sells one product every minute.

KOLKATA TRENDS

According to eBay, most shoppers in Kolkata are dealers of technology and collectibles. While 42 per cent of the total products shopped online include technology, collectibles accounted for another 39 per cent of the imports, according to the eBay census.

Similarly, Kolkata entrepreneurs sold the most technology products at 44 per cent of all transactions to buyers in the country.

Interestingly, a sizeable section of the various articles sold in the international market also include historical document collectibles.

Mobile handsets, coins, commemorative stamps, diamond rings and USB stick are amongst the top purchases by eBayers in Kolkata.

Rs 150-cr export

eBay is hopeful of witnessing exports to the tune of Rs 150 crore on its online market platform in the calendar year 2010.

“This is 60 per cent over last year's figure. Majority of these exports go to the US. Lifestyle goods and handicrafts dominate exports,” Mr Sharat Digumarti, Head (Operations and Customer Support) of eBay India, said.

Quoting Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) survey, he said the total e-commerce market in India stood at 9,000 crore.

(With inputs from our Kolkata, Hyderabad bureaus)

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 9, 2010)
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