People are generally risk-averse and Indians are no exception. With the slow acceptance of eCommerce in India, it’s a surprise that in a short period of 4 to 5 years the number of eCommerce websites have exploded. Currently there are more than 500 websites that are selling products online. This number include stores which have a physical presence in India as well but with customers buying behavior slowly shifting to online purchases, these stores have started selling online too.
A typical Indian buyer does a thorough product search and looks for the best price and discounts she can find. Prior to the eCommerce boom this process involved going to all the possible stores and bargaining with merchants to reach a win-win situation, ending in a purchase. So for items like a refrigerator, the purchase easily took 3-4 days or the customer would end up paying extra money as she was unable to find the best price. With the inclination of the Indian buyer towards convenient online shopping, there was some hesitation for early adopters as the buyer was not internet savvy and browsing each website was an equivalent pain to finding the best possible price. Another matter complicating things is the fact that the Indian buyer likes to touch and feel the product prior to finalizing her decision, and even seeing the actual delivered unit is like a ritual to ensure they are taking away the right piece of the product.
This problem of finding the best deal and also ensuring that the site from which Indian buyers are purchasing will not default is being eased out with the launch of specialized sites which continuously collect data from active online Indian netizens who have already adopted internet shopping as their mode for primary purchase. I will take the example of two of the many sites that I personally find very useful; www.desidime.com and www.coupondunia.in. These websites collect the best deals, coupons, and reviews from customers who have actually made a purchased. The question is: what drives the netizen to actually make a contribution to such a site when there is no actual payment for this? After a thorough analysis I found that the basic concepts of gamification are beautifully embedded in these sites. When you login to desidime the first thing you might notice will be fresh deals that are being regularly updated every hour, there is also a
forum for helping buyers who are confused between sites and products. When you click on a thread, the first thing you will notice is every user has an account, and will have game elements such as points and badges which are carefully designed to promote quality information sharing behavior and not are not just randomly added for sharing information. The three categories of points and badges are Karma points (for helping others), Dimes (activity) and FDP’s (for the best deal). The badges/leaderboards are in the form of ranks allotted to the users are per their activity; deal cadet, deal lieutenant, deal subedar, deal hunter, etc. Players/Shoppers here are deeply engaged as part of helping other members which make them as a responsible netizen who are appreciated for their efforts by fellow users. The system works in two ways: Firstly there are deals which are posted and then they are up-voted and suggested for FPD’s or a user asks for the best deal for a certain product and these deal hunters, cadets, subedars get the best deal for that product. Not just that, they post where the product can be purchased and and give advice on whether it is beneficial to make the purchase now or to wait for a few days. These suggestions are then up for voting. With each FDP’s, Karma and dime earned, each user climbs the leaderboard and are recognized for their effort. A deal recommended by a hunter carries more weight than that of a cadet.
Coupondunia on the other hand uses a simple method for testing coupons. The coupon codes are pooled by players/uploaders who are not sure of its validity in each city. Coupondunia the asks users to vote “yes/no” whether the coupon worked for them with a option for adding comments, such as any “catches” for using a particular coupon. In this manner the active coupons climb up the ladder whereas the bogus coupons find their way down and are dutifully removed.
This simple form of applying gamification has helped the netizens of India save their time in deal hunting and also getting reliable information through sharing. A person who shares one deal usually gains from other cheap deals shared by another user. In this way the community as a whole wins by giving users better products for cheaper prices when they want it and from comfort of their home or office.
Thanks to Arvin for helping me in editing this blog.