With the festival of Rakhi around the corner, the HR professional Shweta is done with her festival shopping. She has already chosen a rakhi and a gift for her brother and now counting days for the festival to arrive. She believes that it is more convenient to do festival shopping online. This year she has opted for online delivery for a Raksha Bandhan hamper, as it is a time-saving option, which also comes with discounts. “My brother lives in a different city, and it is sometimes difficult to be present physically to celebrate the festival. That is why this year I have delivered the gift online,” says Shweta.
In tandem with the rise of online shopping, online marketplaces are coming up with lucrative Rakhi offers. Tier II cities are catching up with this trend faster. Dileep Kumar, the founder of Rakhibazaar.com, an online marketplace for buying and delivery of rakhis and gifts in India and abroad, confirms the pattern with the data that his company has collected. He says, “Online shopping has become a trend these days, especially among people in Tier II cities as more people tend to migrate to metros for various reasons. Capital cities, like Bhopal, Patna and Lucknow, are on the top of our list. This season, the number of orders from the small cities has doubled.”
According to Rakhibazaar.com’s analysis of online buying in different cities, Bengaluru and Delhi are neck and neck in online shopping. Mumbai comes next, while Chennai and Pune are on the third spot and Hyderabad and Kolkata are fourth and fifth in the order respectively. Working with 50 local artisans from cities like Jaipur and Kolkata, with no mediators Rakhibazaar claims that last year they have observed 20 to 22 per cent of growth in the business, while this year the growth is 30 per cent. Their overseas market is also seeing a good traction and they deliver to the UK, the US, Australia and the UAE. Realising the growing opportunities of e-commerce, Rakhibazaar is further tapping overseas market and has expanded its operation this year to deliver in Germany, France, Spain and New Zealand.
Another Indian gift portal IGP.com launched its Rakhi 2018 collection with a wide variety of designer rakhis and gifts. The company focuses on international deliveries along with Indian cities. Tarun Joshi, co-founder and CEO of the company, says, “We have already started getting orders from abroad, especially from the USA. To meet the ever-increasing demand of Indians based in the USA, we have upgraded our USA gift shop. Indians who have their siblings in the United States will now have a better online rakhi-shopping experience. Last year, we generated $2 million in revenue from international orders. This year, we expect it to be much higher and better than the last year.”
While trying to compete with online markets, traditional markets are also trying to pull the crowd with rakhi sales. The markets are flooded with traditional and modern threads embellished with jewellery. Shopkeepers are displaying an assorted collection of ready-made thalis for the occasion where one can get kumkum, rakhi, rice and sweets for pooja.
Marketing professional Aditi believes in shopping offline. She says, “I am more of old school, and I like to explore options physically. I believe that going out to market and buying the gift embodies passion and emotion in the gift and fulfils the purpose of the festival.” She further says that offline shopping is more convenient, because there is a slew of options to choose from as the market is now full of rakhi shops.
These days people are inclined towards buying different types of rakhis, including bhaiya-bhabhi rakhis, kids-centric rakhis, diamond rakhis and eco-friendly rakhis. Tapping the trend, the Ahmedabad-based Crystal Gopal, a company which deals in stones, has introduced seven-stone rakhis based on seven chakras of the body. Its proprietor Gopal Dev says, “People are now more aware of the environment and thus open to experiments. Seeing an opportunity, we launched the seven-stone rakhi last year based on stones which cleanse chakras. We got a great response, though we only manufactured 2,000 rakhis. This year, we have manufactured 9,000 rakhis, out of which more than 7,000 have already been sold.”
Dev believes that his rakhi is better sold in the physical stores with the help of word-of-mouth branding rather than online, though he has registered on the TradeIndia platform. Seeing the great response to his innovative rakhi, Dev is planning to introduce a golden-pendant rakhi next year.