Home/ Opinion / Online-views/  A day in the life of a digital native

When he wakes up on Sunday mornings, the first thing he does is reach for his mobile phone to check out the day’s menu on Bite Club, an app for ordering food. The young executive, married to someone I know, drools at the thought of eating hot poori-aloo, idlis or parathas for brunch. However, the idea is not to focus on his gastronomic experiences, but to analyse how his wife—who got him hooked to the app that delivers home-made food—uses a plethora of apps, mobile sites and shopping portals to buy a mind-boggling array of products and services online every day without stepping out of her house.

The young woman is part of a growing tribe of fanatical digital consumers which will add up to 100 million by 2016, according to a November 2014 report by search engine Google and Forrester Consulting.

In her mid-20s, the bona fide digerati steps out of home only to go to work. To get there, she uses taxi aggregator Uber’s app. She’s done the math. Using Uber works out cheaper than using her own diesel vehicle and paying for a driver (since she doesn’t drive).

Paytm, the digital wallet on her smartphone, pays her taxi bills and she reloads it with her credit or debit card. Since she fired her driver last month, on days when she needs to use her own car, she uses one from driverbulao.com, a driver-on-call service.

Her affair with e-commerce started in college when she ordered her first text book from Indiatimes. When she got her first salary, she ordered the HTC Incredible S smartphone from Letsbuy.com that was acquired by Flipkart in 2012.

There has been no looking back since. Today her entire wardrobe—clothes, shoes, accessories—has been bought online from websites such as Jabong, Myntra and Flipkart. She used to order from shopping sites such as 99labels, Nineteen and Bestylish, among others, before some of them scaled down their operations.

The Myntra app on her mobile phone now stands deleted as the online fashion retailer no longer gives her the desktop option. “You cannot dictate how I shop. I prefer to open a window on my desktop when I need a break from work to browse and shop. I cannot be forced to switch to my phone at that time," she says.

What drives her to shop online? Her distaste for malls, crowds and queues, for one, and her love for shopping in private and in the peace and quiet of her home or office. The ease of the entire process and the fact that the stuff is delivered to your doorstep is a big winner.

It’s especially true for those who lead busy work lives with long hours at work and little time to themselves. The convenience factor definitely plays a major role in the boom one sees in the online shopping industry, says senior consultant psychiatrist Sanjay Chugh, who says online shopping becomes an addiction only if there are some clinical signs attached to buying behaviour. These include compulsive buying, buying beyond one’s means or having one’s emotional state controlled by shopping behaviour, adds Chugh.

The digital commerce market was valued at 81,525 crore by the end of December 2014 and registered a growth of 53% over 2013, according to a March 2015 Digital Commerce Report by IAMAI and IMRB International. IAMAI, or the Internet and Mobile Association of India, is a not-for-profit industry body and IMRB is a market research firm.

While online travel constituted 61% of the total digital commerce pie, e-tail makes up 29%. Mobiles and mobile phone accessories contributed the most—41%—to the e-tail segment, the report said.

Earlier this week, our avid digital consumer purchased a OnePlus 2 mobile phone from a start-up which sells phones by invitation only. Once you get invited, you can buy the phone on Amazon India.

After mobile phones, the largest categories sold online are apparel, footwear and personal items. To be sure, to replenish her personal care products range (creams, soaps, shampoo, kajal), she logs on to Nykaa which, she claims, offers a 15% discount. By the way, discounts are a big theme with her. Just to get free vouchers, she refrained from switching from a pre-paid mobile connection to a post-paid one. Online recharge site, FreeCharge, offers useful discount vouchers every time she recharges her phone for, say, 350. Earlier, a 350 recharge fetched her a voucher of an equivalent amount from Barista, Costa Coffee or McDonald’s.

In the past, recharges have also won her vouchers for significant discounts on international hotel bookings, which she promptly used when she got married two years ago. On the subject of discounts, she confesses: “I am a value-for-money customer. I always look out for coupons, discounts and cashbacks while shopping online."

CashKaro.com, CouponDunia and Couponraja are part of her vocabulary. She keeps an eye on deals on Visa and MasterCard, too.

Now that she runs a house, her furniture has come from FabFurnish and Urban Ladder, and even her buckets, brooms and mops have been bought online from ShopClues.

Of course, not all her online shopping experiences are pleasant, but she persists for its sheer convenience. Buying groceries (vegetables, pulses, masalas, bread and milk)) online has been especially irksome as often the apps are not able to execute her complete order. Some items are always missing from the list. Yet, the discounts are attractive. “PepperTap gave me onions for 31 a kg while they cost 80 in the market. I have nothing to lose," she says.

Her workload in office has gone up and she reaches home by 10pm. So, at least thrice a week, she depends on Bite Club for dinner as well. “It’s based on the home chef concept. It’s affordable, home-cooked food, and I can choose from Marathi and Mughlai to south Indian and Korean dishes," says the digital native.

Shuchi Bansal is Mint’s media, marketing, and advertising editor. Ordinary Post will look at pressing issues related to all three. Or just fun stuff.

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Updated: 03 Sep 2015, 01:09 PM IST
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