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Online discounts: Real deal or illusion?

While shopping online is convenient, some of us are still left with niggling doubt as to whether we would have got a better deal offline.

December 14, 2012 / 05:30 PM IST

Take a look back at the past 2-3 years and you will see how the e-commerce industry has proliferated. Earlier this week, we saw the repetitive digits in the form of 12/12/12, which we will never see again unless one of us happens to live for another 89 years. The day was marked by a shopping extravaganza across the web and there were some lucrative deals with eye-catching discount figures. We love discounts, don't we? Walk past a lane of shops and the one with hoardings claiming ‘Sale’ and ‘Discounts’ will be the first to attract us. A similar scene was online, when Indian sites literally wowed us by offering discounts up to 80 percent. Having said that, there is a common notion that online retailers offer lucrative discounts compared to offline retailers. While shopping online is convenient, some of us are still left with niggling doubt as to whether we would have got a better deal offline. The only solution is to research before buying, visit as many local retailers and repeat the exercise by browsing as many sites for the price of the gadget you are lusting after. But seriously, who’s got that much time? So, we decided to do some snooping around in a bid to find out the truth behind the huge discount figures. To find this out, we spoke to a bunch of offline retailers and a few who own both a local store and a website.Most of us weigh a discount depending upon the number that tags along with the percentage,10 percent sounds good, 20 percent would be better and 30 percent sounds just great. However, some retailers point out that the discount offered is on the M.R.P. and not on the actual cost. Sometimes, it is an older M.R.P and so the discounted number is even higher. Vikram, a retailer at Crawford market  said, “Online discounts are offered by showing consumers a discount on the M.R.P and not on the street price. Sometimes it is an older M.R.P even when the price of the device is slashed. There is not much difference in the discounted prices at which these online retailers sell devices and the price at which they are available in the market. In fact, you may get these devices a little cheaper in the market.” 

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