Flipkart vs Amazon vs Snapdeal – This Diwali, who are you rooting for?

 

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Ecommerce is getting bigger and better each year. In playing catch-up, our etailers are going all out to blow up (or are they true?) their valuations while also being vocal about their intentions to touch profitability.

Dussera and Diwali, and the days leading up to them, are in general considered to be one of the most lucrative shopping seasons and that too not just in the online world. Every retailer, both online and offline, looks forward to it with special deals and offers for customers. Although this year there’s been talk about cutting down on unreasonable discounts, all the ecommerce biggies are gearing up with their own offers for the season in the form of discounts, cash-back schemes, product launches and so on.

“This is going to be the most hotly-fought Diwali and online retailers are going all out with promotions and very aggressive discounting. Everybody wants the highest share of the customer’s wallet because it will ultimately impact their valuations. Nobody wants to be seen as losing market share to a competitor,” says Arvind Singhal, founder and chairman of New Delhi-based retail consultancy, Technopak Advisors.

The stakes and expectations this year are much higher compared to last year, as 40% of this year’s sales is expected from this season alone!

Flipkart’s Big Billion Day (13-17 October)

BBD

Looks like our homegrown ecommerce leader is going all out to make history this time around, but with an app-only strategy! “On an average, we get about 75% of our traffic through mobile-only devices. We expect it to peak during the discount sale to over 80%,” said Ankit Nagori, Flipkart.

Here’s a quick look at the efforts in place already to undo last year’s bloopers:

  • The logistics team has been expanded with around 19,000 delivery boys now to service close to 20,000 pin codes across the country.
  • Data centres have been added in the major metros to handle the incoming traffic during the sales days. That Flipkart cannot handle traffic during sales has been a constant complaint; guess this would help to ease that problem.
  • Sellers have been asked to be equipped with larger stock. Last year, the ‘out of stock’ situation cropped up within minutes of the sale going live for most of the products.
  • Instead of selling products at Re 1, more products will be sold at lower prices. The company has received enough flak and criticism asking for explanations about selling products at so low a price.

While all this sounds good, we can’t help wondering if the app-only tactic is a way of testing waters for the transition. Since the etailer is forcing users to shop on the app, it better be ready for all sorts of troubleshooting. This time, not just the customers, even sellers may not be as forgiving as last time. Just saying!

Amazon’s Great Indian Festive Sale (13-17 October)

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A counter sale from the global ecommerce giant was expected, but we can’t help noticing the masterstroke! Amazon India has announced its Great Indian Festive Sale on the same dates, but playing it safe; users will be have access to the sale via desktop and mobile sites, plus the mobile app. But as motivation, app shoppers will get some extra privileges. No prizes for guessing that this would of course make the customers want to shop on the mobile app (as compared to being forced to do so).

Here’s how Amazon is going to entice customers to shop on the mobile app:

  • 15 minutes earlier access to top deals
  • Cash back on HDFC cards
  • App-only deals on 16, 17 October
  • Sneak peak of deals

Snapdeal’s Diwali Dil Ki Deal Wali

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Not one to be left behind, Snapdeal was actually the first to kickstart the season, officially. The end of September saw a one-day Preview Monday Sale, when customers were offered special promotions on mobile phones every hour in addition to 70% discount on its category stores and special offers on its exclusive products. Apparently there was a ten-fold spike in sales from just this one day!

Snapdeal’s Diwali offers page lists out the promotions to be available over the season. However, there are no specific dates or end date mentioned, anywhere. Can’t help wondering why that is so.

Will this festive season lead to a clear winner?

In general, the spirits are high this festive season with each one vying to get maximum customer attention, thus maximum sales. The ecommerce market in India is fragmented in terms of dominance and a clear winner amongst Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon will surely be intriguing for all – While the winner can be content (and the losers can be upset) about the market leader position, we can be content with satisfying our curiosity.

Festive season 2014 supposedly reached an all-time high with never-seen-before sales figures. While the ecommerce players are going all out to make customers happy, what will the festive season 2015 gift the sellers this year? We’ll know in a few days, won’t we?

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