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The Ultimate Hack to Shopping in India
India is the melting pot of several cultures, traditions, customs, and languages. Our country has 29 states and 7 union territories with each of them having a distinct color. So, you have countless options to shop ranging from western to traditional articles. The shrewdness and cleverness of the businessmen in India are on another level and no one can compete with them as far as selling is concerned. They can sell you everything and anything, and still, manage to make a profit for the day. Of course!
All of this happens in a good sense. At the same time, as a shopper from a foreign country, you must be open-minded and aware. I will give you some tips which will make shopping in India, a very interesting experience for you in terms of saving a few bucks and getting the local taste of haggling in a market.
How to haggle in India?
Ok so you might not have haggled in your home country but in India, unless you are at a brand shop selling fixed price things, you can haggle almost anywhere. Do not be embarrassed by it or think it will hurt the shopkeeper’s sentiments – they are used to it and rarely do Indians buy full price! Decide ahead of time on how much you want to spend — a good rule of thumb is to offer half and pay up to two-thirds. Be prepared to walk away. Whatever it is, chances are you will see its like again.
Having said that, there are lots of fixed-price stores in India that do not use the bargaining system; this is primarily done in street markets. You should know where to bargain and if you don’t know then try bargaining and they will tell if you if it’s a fixed price shop.
Know what to buy from where
Ok, this will require a little research and you can do that while shopping. For example, pashmina shawls are produced in Kashmir and buying them from Mumbai doesn’t make sense at all. Everything in India is regional, from food to religion to clothing styles, and dramatically changes from state to state.
As you travel, find out what the regional specialties are. Clothes and jewelry can be bought from anywhere along with handicrafts items. But do remember to haggle!
Top Tips for Shopping in India
Shopping in India is an exciting process as there are tons of things you can buy. But unlike other countries, there is a system for shopping here which involves a certain, easy to learn science.
And below are some of the tips that will help you have a great shopping experience in India.
While shopping in India, you need to have a poker face! If they shopkeepers see that you are really interested in buying something, they probably won’t bring the prices down. Show no emotion and you shall get discounts.
Do not buy things from the first shop you see them in! Do a recce of the market by checking the price of the same product in multiple shops, so that you have a rough idea of the going rate. And based on this you bargain.
The best thing to do would be getting along a local friend with you to shop around so that sellers don’t try to fleece you
It’s a natural tendency for shopkeepers to mark up prices when they see a foreigner. The thinking is that since you are from abroad you make much more money than Indians do and can afford to spend more.
Try to explore the complete marketplace and buy from a shop that has the maximum variety.
Try to connect with the shopkeepers in their local languages, if possible. This will act as an ice breaker between both parties and consequently, you might win a good deal.
If you see offers like Buy 1 Get 1 Free or similar, check the products thoroughly for quality. If you are buying packaged products, then check their manufacturing dates/expiry dates.
Online e-commerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart have taken away substantial business from mom and pop stores. So, obviously, don’t compare online prices with offline stores as the shopkeepers might not take this in a good spirit.
Make a budget! It’s easy to get carried away and buy way too much than what you can afford. So, before you head out, put some shopping money aside and stick to it!
Also, smaller shops might not accept cards. It’s advisable to carry sufficient cash, in smaller denominations, or to use a mobile wallet like PayTM, Google Pay, etc
Always count your change and check the currency. India has lots of damaged currency in circulation and you don’t want to get stuck with a cut-up currency note.
You can also read more about exploring India through the Lonely Planet Guide.
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