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This article is written by Shivani Garg, pursuing a Diploma in Business Laws for In-House Counsels from LawSikho.

Introduction

How would you prefer buying huge appliances – by offline modes or checking out all online? Well, I guess that depends upon person to person. Some find it to be a lesser hassle while shopping for everything online while some may look at the same from a completely different perspective. . In developed countries like the USA, UK, etc. people are already accustomed to buying commodities/products online as it saves them a lot of hustle to rush down to the store and making a purchase, while people in India love to buy things by making the personal visit. Well, the trend is changing as the circumstances have changed drastically. Certainly, we all agree to that thought more or less.

Choosing the right appliance is a huge task and it can completely bring change in one’s lifestyle as well. Some appliances might sound a bit too costly/fancy or even problematic in the beginning but sometimes they make your life extra easy once get accustomed to it. Ah! Can something beat the hi-tech coffee makers attached with the phone and fully automatic? What’s more, you can set the time and need not worry about missing anything. Well, that’s just one example. Choosing an appliance speaks about a lot of your style, so why rush? Instead, enjoy the experience!

Before we move ahead, I would just like to bring this to you, there is a huge variety of every single appliance with a different price range and different purposes altogether. So, why to even keep your options limited just to a few things because you have limited knowledge. I would suggest it’s best to check out online what all different variety is available for you in the market you are unaware of. Believe me, I can tell you this with my own experience that the market is full of beautiful appliances that just not serve your purpose but also add value to your visit. Without bragging more about it, I will give you important tips to make your shopping experience count.

Your mandatory checklist 

First things first, while buying anything whether online or offline, few things you need to be sure of few things in your head:

  1. What is your purpose behind buying any appliance?
  2. What is your budget?
  3. Is the mode of payment important to you?
  4. The preferential features – if you already have something in mind
  5. Does the size of the appliance matter to you?

Well, these are things I think beforehand while buying any appliance, you can always add things to your lists.

Things to keep in mind while buying online

Depending upon the conclusion, you need to look out for few things when buying huge appliances online. 

Description 

You cannot skip the specification part as it tells you the details about the appliance that your intent to buy and whether it matches the things you have in your head. You know in today’s time; tech has advanced a lot and there are many features you can find even in the small appliance like hair straightener (e.g., Dyson straightener) then imagine what all features and technologically advanced companies can bring to your table when it comes to huge appliances.

Reviews 

Always look up the reviews about the same product on various platforms. It will help you out in case of confusion. Get the experts to an opinion about the product you wish to buy and then just compare features, reliability, quality, and price range of the models. Figure out about the experience of the people, experts on various sites. Today they are many YouTube bloggers as well who review the products and let you know about many things you might not find in the review column of the sites.

Return/refund policy 

Honestly speaking, when it comes to the return or refund policy, some e-commerce sites are a pain in the ass. You have to go through a lot of trouble just to return your product. It can happen will the exchange policy as well. So, whenever you are doubtful about some appliance you are buying beware about this thing as well.

Delivery and installment options

Well, who doesn’t like a few extra perks that come along with the huge appliances you buy? Check out the delivery option while going through the product as some delivery options come with the installment option as well. Easy peasy and without headache. But some online stores make you pay for the drop-off even at a minimal distance. Trust me, that happens! 

Warranty 

You don’t ever wish to miss this part while making your purchases for huge appliances online. So, what exactly is a warranty? A warranty is basically a promise made to provide you with the repair, maintenance, replacement, or refund for a product for a certain period, especially when buying huge products. The specifics of the warranty literally depend upon product to product and also on the warranty to warranty. You need to check beforehand when does the warranty period start and when does that end, along with what all is covered in that warranty of the appliance. Just in case, you are wondering how can you enforce a warranty in all this. Pretty simple, the manufacturer or the seller is liable to pay up. The contact information is always provided on the product. The worst-case scenario – you didn’t get any relief from the seller or manufacturer, you need not worry, the legal system got it covered for you. Let’s check out what falls under the legal remedies.

Legal aspect 

You will be amazed to know that there has been a huge shift while addressing the complaints about e-commerce companies. Last year in July 2020, new rules were laid down for e-commerce companies with penal actions as set by Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to provide speedy resolving the matters. Following that, the eDaakhil portal (edaakhil.nic.in ) has also been simplified for filing all the complaints by the consumers anywhere in India for redressal. Don’t you think that’s such a great move, guys? And just not that, to make the experience more comfortable enough, the site has video tutorials both in Hindi and English language. There are many provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 which include consumer’s right to file cases against manufacturers, sellers, or distributors in regular courts while seeking compensation for the same by filing a complaint in consumer commissions, to setting out penal punishments as well.

Official sites or e-commerce sites?

What option should you choose while buying your appliance online? The same question pops up inside my head as well, whenever I have to choose between two. Just not that, even if you choose e-commerce sites like Amazon, Flipkart, or any other, there is another thought that keeps you bothering is the authenticity of the product as the price seems so much cheaper on Amazon/Flipkart/Ebay.in than on the official website of the brand. You need to know there is nothing to worry about as these online shops save a lot of money in many ways. So, they got it covered to provide you with various offers and discounts that official websites fail to. Then, what I say about the market competition among online shops that drives lower prices as well. 

COVID-19’s impact on e-commerce 

Especially during the pandemic phase, consumer’s dependence on e-commerce has resulted in the birth of about 3 lakh temporary delivery and supply chain jobs as per a recent press report. The digital world actually bloomed amid the crisis. With social distancing being a mandatory thing on-going worldwide to deal with the pandemic, the local market places are the most avoided place. E-commerce being in limelight, became a huge survivor place for many. Even if some people might not like this massive shift in shopping structure, there is no turning back.

So, the big fish of the market like Amazon, Flipkart, etc. knowing the situation already took precautionary measures and set out the guidelines for safe delivery options for the customers expanding its bases. The sales trends changed in a pandemic as well. The executives of Flipkart in conversation with HT Tech stated that there has been growth in the sales of home appliances and electronic devices in the past year. Well, that’s not surprising as the whole office work environment changed to work from home and with the condition on-going, it seems like the virus induced lockdown will be staying for long. Just not to forget, the whole education system moving online has increased the massive demand for laptops and tablets, leaving the online platforms the solution to all the problems.

Conclusion

Well, even if you used to love going to stores for buying huge appliances, with the current situation buying online seems to be the only safe option left. I don’t disagree with you if somebody says they miss the phenomenal experience to go to market, checking out the stores yourself, and finding 10 different brands physically present right in front of your eyes under the same roof to choose it from. Since we all are stuck on the same boat let’s just make sure we don’t regret buying. With artificial intelligence (AI) coming into the picture, there is no doubt that the future will be more digitalized and it will definitely impact the future of the market online. Nevertheless, to worry about AI make your experience very much personalized leaving no room to regret. So even if you are still having a hitch for shopping online feeling it’s unsafe or something, you need to relax with AI taking over you would love it. You just have to keep few things in mind. Even though it sounds like a lot of groundwork, to begin with, trust me, you will thank yourself later for the same.

References

  • A complete guide to understanding the warranties that come nearly everything you own, www.businessinsider.com
  • How safe is it to buy electronic home appliances online? www.familygizmos.com
  • Governing e-commerce: whose liability is it anyway? www.economictimes.com
  • How Covid-19 changed the consumption of home appliances, electronic appliance in India by Shweta Ganjoo, tech.hindustantimes.com

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