Amidst technical glitches, huge traffic, website crash, some praises and lot of criticism today’s ‘The Big Billion Day’ sale on Flipkart (www.flipkart.com) ended with a gross product sale of over $100 million in less than 10 hours. Flipkart website had already received 3, 00,000 orders in first 6 hours and was forced to cancel or waitlist after that. A massive feat by any account in India online market place. Some compared it to India’s own ‘Black Friday’, some said Flipkart failed miserably at being that. Nonetheless, the eventful day meant way more than discounts and sales for the online marketplace. In India online retail of physical good still forms a very small part of total market size, somewhere around half a percent to one percent. Despite of such small percent brick and mortar shops are already feeling the heat of it with the predatory price being offered online; the online discount war is going to punch a big hole in to their business. Festive season in India is the time when retail shopping volume swells up for almost all kind of merchandise and commodity and retailers attract shoppers by rolling out discount mounting over others. In absence of e-tailing price comparison shopping remained restricted to nearby retailers, also every shop maintained its own localized sphere of influence; all co – existed and cannibalizing in to each other’s part of consumer wallet share remained limited. Advent of online retail alone hit them hard, a discount war among these portals will probably suck the life out of retailers. But, from a consumer perspective things can’t get better; whenever sellers fight, it’s the buyer who wins, and boy are they fighting! When Flipkart opened its ‘The Big Billion Day’ this morning Snapdeal (www.snapdeal.com) was already telling everyone on cover of Times of India, adjacent to Flipkart full page advertisement, that such offers is an everyday thing on their website. For those people who might not go directly to Flipkart website and instead search for Big Billion Day, Amazon (www.amazon.in) had the www.bigbillionday.com domain directed to its own website. There were also ad hoc discounts given on these portals to match the price of Flipkart. Yet Flipkart, one could say, outperformed even their own expectations.
But the day did not go all that well also for Flipkart as website failure, technical glitches and price manipulations drew a lot of criticism and negative PR which might haunt them for some coming days. One thing is certain, it was a great start for this festive season discount offers and this one will certainly push others to come up with their own version of the big day. Amazon has already announced Diwali Dhamaka between 10 and 16 October and Flipkart is also likely to come out again with similar offers in that period. This will also force brick and mortar retailers to offer additional discounts this season making their margins tighter.
The whirlwind that rose today on online retailing in India is going to change the landscape there. While the war is between sellers; if tread carefully and smartly using all their choices – comparative pricing, payment option etc. – the only winner who is going to come out of this war is the consumer. Let’s stay poised and make most out of these Big Days!