Google's Great Online Shopping Festival: India's Cyber Monday

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | Updated: Dec 16 2013, 19:21pm hrs
Shopping dicountDuring Google's Great Online Shopping Festival (GOSF) 2013, some participants saw revenues increasing by 4-5 times.
On December 11, when an office colleague received a package from Myntrathe online shopping websiteat a huge discount, and when the next day I saw many more packages getting delivered at not only at my office but also in my neighbourhood, I realised how urban Indians are latching on to this phenomenon called the Great Online Shopping Festival (Google's GOSF).

Created by Google India on December 12, 2012, in collaboration with a number of Indian online shopping portals, the idea behind the GOSF was that online shopping websites would give heavy discounts for one day in order to promote their sales. But the GOSF is not a new concept. The concept originated in the US in the middle of last decade and got christened as the Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving when companies persuade people to shop online. Since then, it has spread to various countries including Canada, Japan, Australia, the UK and China; interestingly, in China, the Singles Daywhen unmarried men used to spend November 11 lamenting their single status with a drinkhas now transformed into an online shopping day and has, in fact, become the worlds largest online shopping event.

Coming to the GOSF, while last year it was a one-day event, Google planned to organise it over three days this year, from December 11-13. But because it crossed over a million users on the first day itself, Google had to extend the festival by another day, making GOSF 2013 a four-day affair. This year, the GOSF brought together 240 e-commerce websites including the likes of Myntra, Flipkart, Jabong, eBay, Snapdeal, MakeMyTrip, Tata Value Homes and more.

Google said that last year most players saw over 350% growth in daily sales and the festival saw participation from all over India with 50% buyers making online purchase for the first time. Rajan Anandan, vice-president & managing director, Google India, had this to say about the GOSF: With over 200 million internet users in the country, more and more users are opting to shop online and fuelling the growth of both large multinational and home-grown companies. Industry estimates suggest that there are close to 20 million online shoppers in India and it is estimated to grow to 50 million in next few years, making it a $16 billion industry.

Nitin Bawankule, industry director, e-commerce, Google India, said, As new internet users come aboard, we continue to see a healthy growth in searches for online shopping, with over 40% queries coming from mobile phones. This year, we first extended the festival to three days and then, seeing increasing interest, we had to extend it by another day. We even attracted many more first time buyers this year. And last years success helped us to get onboard many partners across verticals and products, who lined up incredible deals for bargain hunters and first time buyers. This initiative helped our partners set new benchmarks in daily sales and helped build consumer awareness and confidence in online shopping.

When asked why the GOSF is kept in December, Bawankule said that a primary reason was to ensure that the GOSF doesnt clash with Diwali festivities and also that people, at this time of the year, do tend to shop for new year celebrations.

GOSF 2013 was also supported by three new partners to help create awareness about online shopping and drive user participation. Airtel, Intel and Paytm were the preferred partners for the initiative. And apart from promoting the initiative, Airtel offered a flat 10% cashback on all online transactions on top of other offers by participating websites to customers who transacted using Airtel money. The company also gave away a free dongle on new 4G and a free Wi-Fi modem on new broadband connections.

The director of marketing & market development, Intel South Asia, Sandeep Aurora, said, We are delighted to partner with Google on this initiative, and through this, consumers can avail of exclusive offers on the best of Intel Processor powered devices like tablets and even fourth generation Intel Core processor powered laptops. We partnered with leading OEMs and e-commerce players to provide some good deals to our customers.

For eBay, among the most famous names in e-commerce, events such as the GOSF are a great opportunity to expand the market and convert more internet users to online shoppers. Deepa Thomas, e-commerce evangelist, eBay India, said, The eBay India GOSF microsite last year curated best deals in technology category of which the top performing product categories were portable storage devices, digital cameras, tablets, TVs and laptops. We also witnessed a significant jump in first time buyers on eBay India last year. This year, we looked at evoking e-commerce trial amongst consumers at large. For us, GOSF 2013 was a great opportunity to expand the market and convert more internet users to online shoppers.

This year, to give a wider choice to consumers, eBay showcased deals on not just technology products but also expanded offers to lifestyle products. The company, without disclosing numbers, said it saw significant growth in traffic and conversions. We had more than 10,000 product listings with up to 75% off on products, Thomas added.

During GOSF 2013, some participants saw revenues increasing by 4-5 times. Manu K Jain, co-founder,, said, On the first day itself of GOSF 2013, we saw a phenomenal increase in traffic and sales. What was interesting is that customers had their baskets/carts full and ready before midnight and they transacted as soon as the clock struck 12. Revenue increased 4-5 times more than a usual day. And coping up with the increasing traffic and making shopping a hassle-free experience for the customers, our IT team worked hard to keep the website from crashing.

Vikas Ahuja, CMO, Myntra, had this to say about the fest: GOSF 2013 started on a great note for us and we saw positive results from day one. Our traffic grew approximately 2 times and revenue growth was 3.5 times, versus the preceding few days. We saw significant pick-up across all our core categories. This was in line with our expectations. While Mukesh Bansal, CEO & co-founder of Myntra, added, Such customer reactions are a testament to the promise and future that online shopping holds in our country.

Tata Value Homes, another participant in the GOSF 2013, claimed that its GOSF initiative took off strongly. On the first day of the festival, Pawan Sarda, head, marketing & product development, Tata Value Homes, claimed, We sold 22 units in just 2 hours.

Sandeep Komaravelly, VP, marketing,, said, GOSF 2013 started off with a blast. We saw 10x increase in sales as compared to last year. Initiatives like the GOSF act as a catalyst to further boost adoption of online shopping in India. In fact, a lot of these new shoppers become repeat buyers and add up to the traffic on the websites.

But while GOSF 2013 was termed a grand success, it also had its share of problems. Such was the rush on the GOSF website initially that it got crashed on the first day, something not expected especially because Google was backing it up. And then some users did have issues relating to supply and delivery. Now, because online shopping is still at initial stages in India and, therefore, if the organisers can, next year onwards, focus more on improving the overall online buying experience, would such initiatives be termed really successful.