For 32-year-old Varsha Deerpaul, shopping these days no longer involves weekend trips to her favorite mall in South Delhi's Saket area.
Instead, she now indulges in retail therapy "mostly on the go" through her Samsung smartphone. For example, during her daily commute to work, Deerpaul spends most of her time browsing through the latest deals on e-retailers Flipkart and Jabong.
"If I wanted to buy a dress, I probably will have to check out many shops before deciding on one and that takes up too much time and effort. But now, I can easily browse through 20-30 dresses and there are discounts almost throughout the year. It's really easy and by the time I reach my metro station, I would have decided on what I want," the human resource senior executive told CNBC.
With consumers such as Deerpaul, it is little wonder that India's e-commerce companies are racing to embrace mobile, with some ditching their web platforms entirely to go mobile-only such as online fashion retailer Myntra earlier this year.
Most recently, the country's biggest e-commerce player Flipkart unveiled a new mobile website on November 9, which aims to give users an experience close to standalone apps.
"In July 2014, we had about 15 percent of transactions coming from mobile. In a year, we have gone from 15 percent to 70 percent. This kind of revolution is almost unforeseen and we have to come up with a whole new set of products to deal with that," Flipkart's chief product officer Punit Soni told CNBC in September.
Drivers and limitations
According to a report released in April by market research firm Zinnov, India's mobile commerce market could balloon to $19 billion by 2019, up 850 percent from its current size of $2 billion. Surging smartphone sales in the world's second most populous country amid a tidal wave of low-cost handsets is the key driver, the report said.
Projections by Cisco put the number of smartphone users in India at 651 million by 2019, a near five-fold jump from 140 million by end-2014. The study, released in February, noted a 54 percent surge in the number of smartphone users in 2014 as the average price of handsets fell to around $150 last year and as smartphone penetration increases in rural India.
With the availability of cheap mobile data plans increasing, analysts believe this will help boost internet usage via mobile handsets — and consequently online shopping.
"India has a huge opportunity for mobile commerce. This is the first time a majority of Indians are getting connected to the internet. They are discovering products at costs that are lower than they've never seen before, and they are getting products that were not available in their market before. So it's a huge opportunity," FreeCharge's co-founder Sandeep Tandon told CNBC.
To be sure, obstacles that threaten to stymie the growth potential of mobile commerce in India remain aplenty.
For one, India's focus on cash usage and security concerns about e-transactions are creating friction with the burgeoning online shopping market, analysts say. Large players are wary of the 'Cash on Delivery' system as it is manpower intensive, and requires time to collect the cash from the consumer's doorstep.
In addition, India's poor logistics infrastructure creates a challenge for e-retailers to offer quick delivery services, while the lack of stable telecommunications infrastructure across the country could also limit the pace of growth.