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By Ruma Dubey

Come October and Flipkart has its arsenal all ready. Amazon too is not sitting quiet. So Flipkart, which is technically Walmart is pitting against Amazon, right here in India. Both have launched their big sale, ahead of the Diwali and Dusserah festival.

The Big Billion Day sale, which is Flipkart’s annual shopping festival and  Amazon’s massive sale, called the Great Indian Festival; both opened yesterday. This sale is so huge and has a big impact on the earnings of these companies and also the leaderboard in 2019.

Flipkart aims to double its sales this year to over $1 billion this year. And Amazon said that in the first 10 to 10.5 hours of the prime early access, sales was already two times of what it was last year with people seen shopping 100% more than they shopped the last year.

The landscape for online shopping has most certainly changed. More and more number of people have turned to online shopping simply because almost always the prices are much more cheaper than the one’s available at shops. Redseer conducted a survey and found that the willingness to purchase during the Diwali season has increased from 79% in 2017 to 100% in 2018, owing to the increase in discounts and promotional events run by the e-tailing platforms.

Accel Partners, a fund investing in ecommerce has put out a report stating that online retailing accounts for just 0.3% of total retail sales across India. And this we are talking about given the limited internet penetration in the country.

There is no doubt that this one-day sale, irrespective of the flak it is currently receiving on the social media, is truly a milestone in Indian retailing. This one day has shown the potential which India has and is sure to change the attitude of the Brick-and-mortar (BM) companies. It is clear as a day that they can no longer rely only on their showrooms or selling through malls; it is imperative that every big manufacturer, be it iron ore, TV maker or even services, has to provide all its products/services online.  Thus we can say that slowly but surely we will see an erosion of this wide gap between BM and e-tailing companies. If Bombay Dyeing is able to sell its own products, through its websites, at good rates, offering discounts like the way e-tailing sites do, promises delivery like the way Amazon does, do you think the ‘secondary’ e-tailing sites will survive? If companies can sell what they manufacture directly, that would be the best way for BM companies to not just boost their valuations but survive and evolve with the changing times.

BM companies need to rethink what they now call their sales team. It is no longer just about opening shops or going for franchisees, it is about now having an efficient, equally employed, online sales team.  There is news that BM retailers are now giving these e-tailers a hard time, asking them to cut down their discounts. This is surely because they realize the potential of these websites and the way it is eating away into their own websites and ‘real’ sales.

E-tailing is still at a nascent stage in India as majority of the people still need the touch-and-feel factor before buying anything but this is changing. What a pleasure to order grocery online and avoid the traffic, queues, jostling and pushing and the trouble of lifting all the bags, if you can get the very same goods, delivered at your doorstep, that too at much cheaper rates? Today, the urban dwellers might be frequent users of e-tailers but it is bound to catch up all over.

The clash between online and offline will only intensify but both have to understand that neither of them can today survive without either of them.  The Flipkart one day sale shows that we are at the cusp of a new era and the brick-and-mortar companies, especially malls, need to wake up and see the writing on the wall.

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