A city based online shopping portal hopes to give local vendors and retailers a virtual presence

Think about it- brides or books, grooms or gadgets, all quests today seem to lead online. Nirvana apparently lurks at some web portal at the click of a button.

While Tiruchiites have not lagged behind in jumping on the online shopping bandwagon spearheaded by flipkart, many denizens still put the lid on virtual buying with train/flight tickets and mobile recharge. But for all those harried housewives or husbands who have wistfully wished for genies to accomplish mundane tasks like grocery shopping, consider your wish granted.

Grocery genie

The city’s first online shopping initiative, trichyonlineshop.com (TOS, an easy name to remember) promises to have your grocery carted to your door or if you prefer, fridge door, as the website claims! So the next time you run out of sugar or cereals, you can go online, pick your ‘most wanted’ and order. The online venture assures free delivery within 10 kilometres from the heart of the city, within 24 hours. Though payment options include debit, credit cards and net banking, they have been currently disabled in favour of cash on delivery and would be activated when the client base grows larger, says founder-proprietor, Louis Prabhakar.

The venture is but three months old and has around 50 registered customers. “Though there are people here who shop online, some are skeptical about a store they have no idea where it exists. The local connection may create trust,” explains Louis, holding up trichyonlineshop.com’s trump card. “The portal is conceived as a platform for local retailers who would like to sell their products online but can neither find time nor afford web developing charges. It is ideal for small entrepreneurs who are more focused on reaching out to customers and building a brand name than making immediate profit.”

Making the cut

Mr. Louis has delivered personally to customers to find out their expectations. “Customers are keen that the price of a product should be lesser than what the neighbourhood store offers.” While Louis tries to negotiate with retailers and department stores to sell below the M.R.P, the difference is currently negligible for some products. “I am waiting for retailers to compete in offering competitive prices. It will happen if more link with TOS. Now, we sell memory cards for a lesser price than flipkart for there should be a reason why people prefer a local online store.”

Run as a sole proprietorship with a team of part-time students who deliver the goods, TOS hopes that the one stop concept may lure customers. “Our job is to ensure quality,” says Louis who executes orders according to convenience of customers.

The site also offers provisions to track shopping orders. And if you are not comfortable sitting before a computer to order paruppu and zandu balm, a phone-in option is available. The store catalogue cannot be termed exhaustive but offers a choice of popular brands in categories like soaps, talcum powder, masalas, washing powder, baby food, sanitary napkins and more. For the sweet-toothed, cakes and cookies by a leading confectioner in the city are for the taking. TOS hopes to include accessories, gifts and electronics in the future. Presently laptops and chargers are for sale.

Though photographs accompany every product, larger pictures, more thumbnails arranged horizontally in a page and provision for customer feedback would do better. Also, orders can be placed only after registering with the website, a provision to filter miscreants justifies TOS. TOS can be accessed by 96885 54436

More local online stores are in the offing we hear but will they curry favour? Umashankar Natarajan, city based tech blogger has this to say, “Orders from popular online stores take three or more days to arrive in Tiruchi. But the advantage here is the product reaches within a day. A local attachment may also increase patronage for regional online stores.”

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