The FlipKart 'One Billion Day' sale was intended to mark the journey of co-founders Sachin and Binny Bansal, who started off in 2007 from flat number 610. FlipKart, which has earmarked about Rs 75 crore towards ad spends this fiscal, has been aggressively advertising for Monday's do for two weeks now.
Chandra, one of those early buyers who logged in at 9 am found Samsung tablets priced at Rs 2,000 but before he could place an order, there was the sold out sign. The other lucky shoppers were able to get confirmed sale click with deep discounts on high end Nikon cameras and Sony TVs.
The mega sale, through which FlipKart planned to win the game of one-upmanship against global e-commerce major Amazon and domestic rival Snapdeal, offered lucrative deals across 70 categories including up to 30% off on smartphones, laptops starting at Rs 15,000, 50% off on fashion, perfumes and toys, besides special offers on Xiaomi and Motorola phones, which were exclusively launched on FlipKart a couple of months ago.
In a statement, FlipKart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal said, "The Big Billion Day is an unprecedented day for us as this is the biggest sale ever in India. We are delighted by the overwhelming response from our customers since 8 am today." They further added, "Our technology team has been dedicated towards addressing errors and providing constant support to accommodate the largest scale of traffic and customer visits e-commerce has witnessed across the country."
According to one person privy to discussions in FlipKart's war room, the e-tailer planned to leverage the festive season to achieve $2 billion gross merchandise value this fiscal. FlipKart, the person said on condition on anonymity, aimed to generate $400-500 million sales during the festive season.
Though the glitches with the website were a testimony to the overwhelming number of hits it received in anticipation of bagging lucrative deals, it led to tomes being written on alleged anomalies in the sale. While aggrieved customers complained that most of the coveted products went out of stock within minutes of the sale commencing, some alleged that the online marketplace spiked prices. Several customers complained that their orders were scrapped arbitrarily by FlipKart.
The social media was particularly harsh on FlipKart, with some caustic remarks going viral on Twitter. Flipkart # # is in view-only mode...buy-mode is currently disabled or defunct, read one tweet. "Sold out , out of stock , error 505 , vanishing cart , fluctuating prices, #big billion day Really#," read another tweet. "I just bought a out of stock from Flipkart, feeling lucky #big billion day," went another tweet.
Several others took to Facebook to vent their ire. I was planning to buy a pair of formal shoes for a long time now...few months back the price displayed was around Rs 1900...I thought I would wait for the prices to fall but suddenly the price goes sky high to an amount of Rs 3,600 and finally today on this BIG BILLION DAY they offer a so called "heavy discount" and are selling that particular shoe at an amazing price of 2800, read a post on FlipKart's Facebook page, which has over 37.5 lakh likes.
The alleged price disparity has brought under scanner the deep discounts being offered by the e-commerce companies. An industry observer, on condition of anonymity, explained the fluctuation in price. In most cases, the prices displayed on the website are those after the e-tailers offer a discount from their own pockets. Today, the prices listed, which are inadvertently more than the previous days, are the actual MRPs and a discount is being offered on that, the person said.
Of late, e-commerce companies have been locked in a bitter rivalry to edge out competition. Amazon, for instance, is expected to spend Rs 100 crore on advertising this year. The global major, which recently announced an infusion of $2 billion into its India operations a day after FlipKart announced that it had raised $1 billion from investors, has scheduled a mega sale next week.
Meanwhile, Snapdeal took a potshot at FlipKart through a newspaper ad on Monday. For others, it is a big day. For us, today is no different, the caption read.
As the deep discount online bazar is expected to continue for some more days by FlipKart, Amazon and Snapdeal, buyers are hoping to try their luck later during the night with hope that fresh stocks would appear on these websites.