IBGC - Planet eBiz

How We Buy Online

How We Buy ran during Summer 2014, in partnership with PayPal

To what extent are online buying experiences similar or different across the world? To facilitate a global comparison of consumer experiences, we captured snapshots of online purchases through our How We Buy Online exercise. Open to current students and recent graduates of The Fletcher School and Tufts University, How We Buy Online provided an on the ground, first person view of how individuals engage with digital commerce systems.

How We Buy Online mapped the consumer experience on various digital commerce systems around the globe. How does ordering items at Amazon in the U.S. compare to shopping online and paying through M-Pesa in Kenya, or to cash-on-delivery models in India? What are the pain points in the process? What surprises and challenges do they encounter?

Winners and Highlights from the HWBO Competition

Grand Prize: Cash On Delivery by Scooter, Cambodia

Scooter Cambodia

Most Witty: Never let a good man wait for a pizza, USA

Most Informative (1st): Smart receipts when buying food online, UK

Best Visuals (1st): Packaging, USA

Best visuals packaging

Most Unexpected Purchase Experience (Tie): Diapers via Diplomatic Pouch, Mexico

diapers diplomatic pouch

Most Unexpected Purchase Experience (Tie): Movie Seating by WhatsApp, Mexico

whats app movie mexico

Most Unexpected Purchase Location (Tie): Delivery Problems, Somaliland


Most Unexpected Location (Tie): Eurorail Pass, Iraq

Iraq eurorail

Most Informative (2nd): M-Pesa Flight, Kenya

mpesa flight

Best Visuals (2nd): Path to the Internet, Indonesia

path to internet

Other highlights:

Getting the latest George RR Martin book to India proves difficult, and expensive

How We Buy: Books in India from Planet eBiz on Vimeo.

Chinese Air Travel via Cash on Delivery

I was in China, and needed to book a flight from Shanghai to Chengdu. I had heard from friends that I might be getting a physical ticket, not an e-ticket. I booked my ticket using the website, and 5 minutes after the confirmation email (without information about how my ticket would be delivered), got a phone call confirming the ticket. They promised to send someone out with the ticket soon. I was unsure if I had been scammed at this point, and was glad that I hadn't used my credit cr on the site. Unexpectedly, 3 hours later, there was a knock at my door and a gentleman (who couldn't speak English), showed up. My limited Chinese helped, and I handed over the cash in exchange for the ticket. I still wasn't sure if the ticket was genuine. It wasn't until I was on the plane that I realized that it has all worked. Phew!

Working around fraud protection

"We wanted to get a domain name for a project we are starting in India. But trying to buy the address with an Indian operating address, and a US billing address, turned out to be a bit more than our credit card company liked. Thankfully, the domain name company took Paypal. $9.38 later, and a shiny new domain name was ours." - S, India

Britain's fastest delivery

"Something has happened the past couple of years: delivery has become incredibly quick here in the UK. I ordered on Amazon, and a couple of hours after getting an email saying that it would be delivered in three days, I got an email saying it was out for delivery. I got my new yoga leggings 18 hours after ordering, and a new sweater within 22 hours. 

My theory as to why delivery has become so fast? All the British Olympic athletes are now working part time for Britain's delivery companies. Online shopping has a new dimension of fun - between just how fast can it come?"  - Kate, UK