Online Shopping, Indian Style

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20151216

Mukti Jain Campion discovers how Indians are embracing the online shopping revolution.

Shopping in India is an intensely hands-on experience - no vegetable or item of clothing is bought without thorough inspection, discussion and haggling. But all over the country, millions of Indians are now taking advantage of new online shopping opportunities.

While few people own credit cards, internet access remains patchy and delivery of the last mile is rife with problems, e-tailers are working hard to meet India's particular challenges.

At the peak of the Diwali seasonal shopping frenzy, Mukti Jain Campion spends a day with a motorbike courier on his rounds in Bangalore, meeting customers on their doorsteps to discover what Indians are buying and why. And she travels beyond the city limits to discover an innovative approach to bring online shopping to less tech-savvy consumers in the villages and small towns where the majority of Indians still live.

She also talks to Amit Agarwal who launched Amazon India two years ago and predicts India will become the second biggest Amazon market globally. The key will be the arrival of faster and cheaper mobile data access, expected over the next couple of years, which will allow more Indian consumers to shop on smartphones, avoiding the need for laptops and broadband access.

Amit Agarwal says, "Mobile internet is probably the most effective social leveller in a diverse country like India. Anyone, anywhere, can shop for anything. Small entrepreneurs can access huge markets and become global brands. It's something unique that's happening and a very important chapter in the history of India."

Producer Mukti Jain Campion

A Culture Wise production for BBC Radio 4.