India's online retailers claim success

8 October 2014

NEW DELHI: Online retailer Flipkart claims to have made $100m in sales during its Big Billion Day sale, with rivals also reporting significantly increased trade on the day.

Mukesh Bansal, CEO of Myntra, now owned by Flipkart, described it as "a watershed moment for Indian retail" and told the Economic Times that the business was aiming to push on from an expected $3bn of sales in 2014 to hit $5bn in 2015.

Following the trend in other countries which have designated major online shopping days – the US has Cyber Monday, China Singles Day – Flipkart announced that the Indian equivalent would be Monday, 6th October, sparking an "e-contest" with its main competitors, Snapdeal and Amazon.

While Flipkart said the day had been a success it was not without problems, as social media users accused it of inflating prices in the days ahead of the sale in order to advertise big discounts on the day itself. There were also complaints that products had sold out, that advertised products were unavailable and that technical glitches had prevented some purchases from registering.

As a result, negative sentiment around the Big Billion Day more than doubled, exchange4media reported.

Rivals, meanwhile, were looking to grab some of the day's retail action for themselves, offering equal or better deals to shoppers.

For example, Flipkart ran a wraparound ad in the Times of India, announcing, 'Today Don't Look Anywhere Else, India's Greatest Ever Sale is here'. But readers turning the page then saw a Snapdeal ad announcing 'For Others it is a Big Day. For us, today is no different'. Snapdeal reported a 15-fold increase in traffic.

Amazon, meanwhile, hijacked 'bigbillionday' as a keyword so that internet surfers were redirected to its site. It indicated that sales had doubled over the previous day.

Opinions were divided on Flipkart's approach with some seeing it as a mistake. "Sale and discounts are a thing of surprise," observed Navin Khemka, managing partner, north and east, Maxus. "One does not take that much of time to launch it because it gives competition the time to respond, which happened in this case," he told Afaqs.

But PM Balakrishna, COO, Allied Media, Percept Group, said consumers always compared prices before buying. "Today, what has happened is that both are trying to outshout each other," he said and that would continue to be the case.

Data sourced from Afaqs, Economic Times, Business Standard, exchange4media; additional content by Warc staff