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When it comes to buying online, millennials are driving vendors a hard bargain

If a 15 per cent discount looks appealing to you, think again. Millennials are constantly on apps and websites hunting for offers that can top the last one, and that’s pushing companies to come up with better ideas each time

Preet Singhania browses through the home page of her favourite online beauty store. If she buys makeup worth `3,500 from one of the more expensive brands, she gets a makeup pouch free. Or, she could experiment with a new product that’s giving one free item if you buy two lip products from them. All the options are confusing, and extremely appealing. But that’s her shopping habit. Be it beauty products, groceries, food, gadgets or books – there has to be a deal. “I never pay full price because I don’t see any sense in it. Most app-based companies offer deals on credit cards, debit cards, points earned etc, and if we don’t make use of them, we are being fools,” says the 27-year-old marketing professional. “I have two credit cards, and both of them offer anywhere between five-15 per cent discount when I buy food from a couple of online delivery systems. Some apps even have the one-plus-one deal. If there is no offer, I move on to something that does,” she does.

And that’s how the millennials are spending money these days. Given that their lives are literally based on apps and websites, any vendor that wants to rope that population in, is gradually figuring out the magic word – offer.

More the merrier

But it’s not just the idea of getting a discount that appeals to them. It’s the whole temptation of getting something extra out of their money.

Take 26-year-old data analyst Neha Karmarkar for instance. Every day, she looks at the top time-based offers on the Swiggy app. She cites a delicious dilemma of either ordering two coffees at `400 or two Belgian waffles for `300. The free delivery offer for the latter sweetened the deal. “I usually order a dessert or coffee at work,” she says, and often, these deals work out “way cheaper than actually going to that outlet.”

In fact, Karmakar scours for online deals all the time. And all that’s required of them to snag the offer are payment apps that help you to buy something in less than a minute. Twenty eight-year-old software engineer Srijeya Shilabhadra hits the nail when he says, “There’s been a big change in our age group when it comes to buying. Earlier, we’d spend money only when we needed something, but now we buy only when there’s a good offer.”

Winning deals

Not just discounted offers, companies today provide cashback options, scratch cards, promo codes to entice this set of shoppers. Apart from discounts, there is convenience factored in such deals. “People turn to us for the reliability and convenience it offers while also allowing them to order from the widest variety of restaurants right to their doorstep. With benefits such as lightning fast delivery, no restrictions on minimum order quantity etc, ’Swiggying’ food from restaurants has become an integral part of their lives,” says a spokesperson of the company.

Sometimes, for just downloading a new app, there are coupon codes to be used. This will entice first-time users. Software engineer Swapnil Maurya (27) talks of downloading a new app a month ago. “I downloaded the Cred app which I now use to pay my credit card bills. The first time, I got a coupon code for 5000 points which got me a coffee at Third Wave Coffee Roasters, which is near my house. Their coffees are not cheap, and I could get it for free. That was a good experiential gain.”

Then there are scratch cards which can give back cash from `20 to `1 lakh. Scratch cards that are given out initially by new apps contain fairly generous amounts. Like the time when 24-year-old creative producer, Arathy Kushalappa downloaded a new app and got `2,000 value scratch card. I have even got `2,000 from one of the cards that came with a digital wallet.”

Then there’s ‘Refer A Friend’. When Kushalappa moved into her rental flat, she downloaded Furlenco after getting a ‘reference code’ from her friend who had used the app for renting furniture. Not only did she get an initial discount of `1000, even her friend got discounts.

Many of these shoppers have even helped their parents buy things online with as much discount as they could garner. In fact, some even ‘borrow’ certain credit cards from friends or family to avail a deal and pay them back later.

While new apps give out great discounts and offers, the ones that get popular will play along a different scenario. Lawyer Ashrita Gulati (24) mentions how promos get harder to get as the popularity of the app increases. She feels that while scratch cards are great it would be more useful if “I could get Uber passes that will save a lot money but they are tougher to get.”

It is now that resilience sets in. For instance, Amit (full name, age, profession) modus operandi is to select clothes he wants on an e-commerce website and then wait for deals. This is over and above the discounts offered. As he says, “On certain apps, I get notification when there is a sale on that E-commerce website. Recently, I availed heavy discounts in December on Myntra after getting notified about the sale.” By using Amazon Pay, he also gets about 50 per cent discount on the Amazon website, and some on third party sites as well.

The big idea

It is of interest and concern as to how the apps continue to offer such massive discounts. In an extremely competitive market what is a sustainable model? Industry players having different business models have different outlooks. Ajith Karimpana, founder and CEO of Furlenco, notes that his is a sound model which offers a fraction of the revenue received from the customers back to them. “An average customer signs up for 20 months and pays a monthly rental of about `3,000 for furnishing their house. Of a sum of say, `60,000 we receive from them, giving back `500-`1,000 is not a big deal at all. We can easily afford that. Our economic model is very sustainable because we are giving minimal discounts. We rely on triggering mechanisms like ‘If you book today, we will give `1,000 off’ because we want to convert potential customers today than tomorrow. Some click bait offers are also done like ‘two months rents off’ which have a star pointing to terms and conditions that will restrict the amount given as discount.”

But when vendor sign up with e-comm websites, it’s not always sustainable for them. “The one-on-one offer on a certain food delivery app has given the millennials the opportunity to decide where not to eat, instead of where to eat, and that is never a good idea for the food business. The millennials will never spend more than what is on offer, and we end up with loses,” says a city-based chef, on conditions of anonymity.

Shilabhadra, however, is apprehensive of the massive discounts offered by some of the new entrants. “It is certainly not sustainable to sell without profits. Most of these new apps are running on their initial investment money. If they cannot survive the market, someone else will come up and offer the same things. There is no loyalty in this section of consumers as I will go to anyone who gives a good deal.” Which is why, it is safe to say that no matter what, millennials drive a hard bargain, and are only getting better at it.

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