Auroville tests Diwali shopping mood

Online store introduces gift section this season looking to tap into domestic market

October 29, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:40 am IST - PUDUCHERRY:

Gift hampers feature on Auroville's online portal this Diwali season. Offers are likely to extend through Christmas, New Year and Pongal —Photo: Special Arrangement

Gift hampers feature on Auroville's online portal this Diwali season. Offers are likely to extend through Christmas, New Year and Pongal —Photo: Special Arrangement

After resetting its strategy for the domestic market, Auroville’s online store looks to ride the consumer euphoria this Diwali season.

Recently, the Auroville Online Store ( added a gift section that features an assortment of products ideal to gift friends and family.

The e-commerce portal launched in 2008 with a mere smattering of offerings such as books, body care, spirulina and jam varieties.

Today, as a virtual window to Auroville, the portal has turned into one of the many success stories in the universal township.

The portal coordinates with over 30 manufacturing units in the universal township, and handles customer experience management, from order confirmation through real-time consignment location updates and doorstep delivery.

“We are testing out gift hampers ahead of Diwali and the preliminary response is encouraging,” said Stephan Himmer, who leads the team at

The plan is to extend the offers through Christmas, New Year and Pongal, he said.

The gift kits are broadly classified under Bodyline, Homeware, Children’s Gifts, Books and Cards and Miscellany sections.

What goes into a gift kit is largely determined by the production units. For instance, the ‘Turquoise Basket’ from Maroma in Auroville packs into the gift kit an assortment that includes lavender soap bar, incense, perfume and shampoo.

Since its launch, auroville online store has been taking small strides towards improving the shopping experience for customers, and the launch of a gift section represents another step forward in the journey.

In fact, among the many improvements to include a snazzier user interface, ease of shopping experience, rich product detailing and zoom feature on the displayed product.

In the initial years, about 60 per cent of online shoppers were international. Shipments from Auroville online store went out to overseas destinations such as France, Germany, Russia and cities across the US.

The site also offers choice of multiple currencies (rupee, USD or Euro) for overseas buyers. supports four currencies and has several payment options for customers — credit/debit card, PayPal, bank transfer and cheque collection/ money orders.

However, in recent years the thrust has been to focus more on the domestic market and the addition of gift section is a reflection of this.

As part of this, Auroville Online Store which had a tie-up with the Postal Department is now partnering with private courier services to cater to its clientele in India.

“We find that the courier facility is actually driving more business within India,” said Mr. Himmer.

There has been a 15-20 per cent spike in sales compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.

Perhaps, another factor that has heightened consumer interest and engagement has been the mailers that has recently started sending out to customers on its data base.

Typical mailers from do not just showcase products but also emphasise the altruistic dimension to buying off the Auroville shelf. “With the purchase of these gift sets you support local Auroville Units! They touch the life of village women empowering themselves, carpenters and potters, who keep their trade alive and artists, who capture the beauty of nature,” as these mailer state.

Potential buyers, clicking on the product showcase, are also given a brief about the creation process.

For example, shopping for an ‘Eco Femme’ gift hamper reveals that the washable cotton products were stitched by rural women’s collectives creating a genuine income generating opportunity and awareness amongst the local women population. The eco-friendly benefit of these products is also highlighted.

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