DESPITE the shadow of restrictions on discounts looming large, major e-commerce players are confident of success during their biggest sale period of the year. Consumers, too, can look forward to an array of products and discounts. However, sellers might not have much reason to cheer, as they might have to shoulder much of the burden of the discounts.
The Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy (DIPP) had earlier this year put a bar on e-commerce marketplace discounts, and capped total sales originating from a group company or one vendor at 25%, much to the disappointment of consumers. The rationale behind the cap on sales, said industry observers, was to bar an e-commerce marketplace entity from having an inventory-based model.
In order to work their way through the DIPP guidelines, online retailers are apparently trying to partly push the burden of discount on sellers this year.
Though US retail giant Amazon, which operates through Amazon.in in India, was not too direct in its response, it hinted the prices for products on Amazon.in are determined by the sellers. “We have a marketplace model in India and prices for products on Amazon.in are determined by the sellers. Amazon provides sellers a platform to reach millions of customers, enabling them to sell their products. Our seller base has grown 200% over last year and today we have 1.2 lakh sellers on the platform, whom we support through a host of services,” an Amazon India spokesperson said.
Amazon claimed it received more than a billion hits during the first 14 hours of its Great Festival Sale that began on Saturday. It claims the number of unique visitors was more than in all the five days festive sale of last year.
Homegrown e-tailer Flipkart was, however, more forthright, as it said as a responsible marketplace, it is fully compliant with all the applicable laws and regulations, including the extant DIPP guidelines. “The prices and discounts for all our sales, including The Big Billion Days, are decided by the participating sellers and brands. Our focus is to offer quality products at great value and affordable prices,” the spokesperson added.
Snapdeal is banking on bank deals and interest-free EMIs to woo customers this year. Besides offering up to 70% off on major mobile phone, electronics, home appliance and fashion brands, it is doling out an additional 20% instant discount on all orders above R1,000 paid through Citibank cards.
In order to make aspirational purchases pocket-friendly, Snapdeal is also offering interest-free EMIs from Bajaj Finserv with zero down payment and zero processing fee for several electronics items.
During its 10-day promotional sale period, Gurgaon-headquartered ShopClues, too, is offering zero-cost EMI schemes.
While Amazon.in flagged off its ‘Great Indian Festival’ on October 1 and will run it till October 5, rivals Flipkart and Snapdeal are launching ‘The Big Billion Days’ and ‘Unbox Diwali Sale’, respectively, a day later on October 2. Shopclues is holding a ‘Diwali Sale’ from October 1 to October 10.
For Flipkart, this sale season will be of great significance owing to the rising competition with its nearest rival Amazon, which has upped its ante with some mega expansion plans.
“The Big Billion Days is India’s biggest sale which consumers really look forward to every year.
We have worked closely with our sellers and brands to create consumer propositions which are very relevant to Indian consumers,” said a spokesperson for the e-tailer.
Flipkart is offering discounts in the range of 50% to 80% this year. It is also doling out “never-seen-before” discounts on smartphones, DSLR cameras, electronics and accessories, TVs and appliances, according to the company spokesperson. For smartphones, the Bengaluru-headquartered e-com company has partnered with Samsung’s Galaxy On8, Motorola’s E3 Power and Xiaomi’s Redmi 3S, while the online retailer has sealed exclusive deals with BPL and LeEco for TVs.
Amazon India, too, has got several smartphone players on its board for this festive sale season. It has struck exclusive smartphone deals with Lenova Z2 Plus, Lenova Vibe K5 and OnePlus 3, with a total of 57 exclusive smartphone tie-ups, as per reports.
To make the sale season a success, e-tailers are leaving no stone unturned. While Snapdeal has put in place a 24×7 live chat facility to provide shopping assistance to its customers, Amazon India’s assisted shopping initiative Project Udaan, spread across 100 cities and towns in 14 states, will enable new customers in semi-urban and rural communities, who lack easy access to the Internet, to experience the joy of shopping for deals and offers on the e-commerce platform.
As for logistics, Snapdeal has tied up with leading brands to ensure that all appliance installations are scheduled within one working day of the delivery. “Additionally, there will be free shipping, 100% quality check and extended returns period for orders shipped through Snapdeal Gold,” the Snapdeal spokesperson said. Snapdeal Gold, the premium service which the e-tailer launched recently, allows a free service upgrade, providing free shipping, next-day delivery and an extended 14-day return period.
Amazon India will to offer a suite of guaranteed fast delivery services like same-day, next-day, Sunday, and morning deliveries throughout the sale season. “Last year, the demand for these premium delivery services shot up by 3x during the festival period. We are witnessing the same trend this year too. We launched Prime this year and in less than two months its membership has shot up beyond our estimated projection,” said the Amazon India spokesperson.