Sunday, 18 October 2015

Festive Cheer as E-Sales Leap
The New Indian Express, Kolkata,18th October,2015


Okay, folks. The first round of the grand festive e-commerce sales season just got over. Deal seekers in tony neighborhoods of most big cities seemed to have bought a thing or two each. Some are delivered within 24 hours, while others are on their way, thanks to e-tailers’ improved logistics.

 Analysts say, consumers picked up more stuff than last year, despite the online sale bonanza coming a month after offline stores’ end of season sale that ended in August. “This shows consumers appetite. In some categories, discounts may not be significant, but any saving is a saving and that’s driving sales,” said Sridhar Tirumala, CEO, Trupik India, which offers a seamless 3-D interface to bridge online-offline shopping experience. 

  While bargain hunters were somewhat satisfied while shopping for electronics, other product categories like furniture, branded apparel, clothing accessories etc leave much to be desired. Interestingly, all the hype and action on the e-commerce sale war, like last year, was predominantly concentrated in major cities, while rural consumers, in hordes, are yet to join the online sales blitzkrieg. In line with the law of supply and demand principle, hottest-moving products continued to sell close to their sticker prices. For instance, Apple products like iPhone or iPad had no more than few bucks off the original price. This left some repeat online buyers from last year as visitors than buyers. 

  The Indian e-commerce market was worth about $2.5 billion in 2009, touched $8 billion in 2015 and is expected to touch a whopping $56 billion by 2023. But for this to happen, a significant chunk of rural consumers need to be on board. Thanks to smartphones, a part of the e-tailer penetration is already underway.

  According to Assocham, Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru drove sales, but there is a surge of interest from Tier II and Tier III cities like Gurgaon, Noida, Chandigarh, Nagpur, Indore, Coimbatore, Jaipur, Vishakhapatnam, where online sales rose a sharp 120 per cent year-on-year.

 “In addition to Tier I and II cities, on-time deliveries also extend to customers in traditionally underserviced areas like Aizawl, Agartala, Dibrugarh, Tezpur, Cooch Behar, Malda, Anantnag and Thoothukudi,” said Jayant Sood, Chief Customer Experience Officer, Snapdeal.

  E-tailers also believe the urban market is not completely tapped yet. According to Snapdeal, there was a 350 per cent increase in first time customers. While, electronics drew people to websites, the significant discounts offered on these products are largely related to local makes, or those with relatively outdated technology. On the other hand, sales of large size products like furniture, beds, TVs, sofas were up moderately. 

 “For the past four days of The Great Indian Festive Sale, the automotive department has been consistently registering record sales each day and today it saw a 450 per cent growth in unit sales over its previous biggest event, The Great Indian Freedom Sale hosted in August,” an Amazon India spokesperson said. 

  While Flipkart claimed to have sold 5 lakh smartphones in flat 10 hours, Snapdeal said there was a multi-fold increase in orders and claimed that 98.9 per cent of its orders were dispatched within 24 hours of order placement and achieved 98.6 per cent on-time delivery. 

  “Over the last year, all our teams have worked single-mindedly to deliver world class customer experience this Diwali. We have significantly ramped up our supply chain and technology capabilities which are now translating to superior customer value proposition. The sheer volume of positive feedback on social media is a great validation of our efforts,” said Jayant. 

  Unperturbed are the offline retailers, who think there is virtually no reason for deep discounts during festive season as demand for clothes and gifts already exist and hence no need to lure shoppers with site-crashing or door-bursting deals.

  Flash sales or deep discounts are supposed to come with a limited window offer, but these days, if you are in the market to shop for less, deals seem to be just round the clock. There may be merit in asking yourself a few questions to save some pretty pennies. Are these discount deals really deep? Did it really save huge money? Or do I really need to buy this or am I allowing my impulsive mind to have its way?

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