Flush with money from recent fund-raising efforts, India’s biggest online retailer Flipkart and rival Snapdeal are pulling out all stops this festive season to woo shoppers in a period that is crucial for them to justify, and possibly increase, their soaring valuations. The world’s largest retailer Amazon, meanwhile, is matching every step and promotional offers by local firms as it seeks to become the biggest player in India.
Flipkart on 6th Oct 2014 made an ambitious plan to unite a billion people through what they promise is going to be the greatest sale ever in India.Flipkart’s #BigBillionDay hash tag on Twitter was trending on the morning of 6th October but soon several other hashtags, criticizing the sale, like #Flopkart, #Failkart, #Fraudkart, etc started to catch up, as disappointed buyers took to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction. Later in the day, it seemed Flipkart had earned more angry customers than satisfied ones from “The Big Billion Day” sale initiative.
Flipkart rivals Amazon India and Snapdeal have been mocking the company’s 6 October sale with campaigns of their own. Snapdeal on Monday ran a campaign with the tagline “For others it’s a big day. For us, today is no different.” Amazon has been running a sale from 4-6 October, calling it the “Mission to Mars” weekend.
Even as Flipkart drew curtains on its ‘Big Billion Day’ sale for the day, its rival amazon.in tried a novel way to own the catchphrase coined for the sale, to get users to their own site. When users typed bigbillionday.com in their browser, they landed on the amazon.in site and not on Flipkart, the online shopping site that declared its biggest online sale open at 8 am on Monday morning. Amazon also seemed to have bought the keyword flipkart for the day, as amazon advertisements appeared on pages that had the keyword flipkart. So every website that displayed Google ads, automatically got amazon ads to show up on pages that had the keyword flipkart.
Snapdeal, on the morning of 6th October had a full size ad in TOI saying that “For other’s it’s a big day, for us, today is no different. Check Snapdeal.com before you buy”. Masterstroke!
This change in buying habits of customers, who are now fast getting used to around-the-year discounts on e-commerce sites, is forcing offline retailers to react as well. Offline retailer are now forced to offer more and more discounts to the customer to keep them attracted. Although e-commerce accounts for less than 1% of the total retail market in India, it is by far the fastest growing retail channel. It is estimated to grow to as much as $22 billion (excluding travel) in five years from $3.1 billion currently, according to a November 2013 report by CLSA.
With so many big e-commerce players and their offline counterparts fighting it out for the customers attention, the Indian consumer is poised for a dhamaka diwali this year !