Readying for the festive season, e-commerce biggies Flipkart and Amazon have come up with initiatives to attract shoppers from tier-II cities. Ranging from a wide product assortment to easy EMI options, instant credit lines and better logistics infrastructure for speedier delivery, the competition between Flipkart and Amazon is expected to be even fiercer this year. After all, the festive season is the best time to acquire new customers, with over 20 million shoppers expected to shop during the five-day festive sales next month, as per a RedSeer Consulting report. \u201cOf the 500 million internet users, only 100 million shop online. This number is expected to grow to 185 million by 2020. A majority of the growth is driven by tier-II and tier-III shoppers, which is growing by 40% y-o-y,\u201d says Ujjwal Chaudhry, engagement manager, RedSeer Consulting. \u201cSo far, the online story was dominated by the 3Ms\u2014male, money and metro cities.\u201d But that is changing fast. \u201cBy 2020, tier-II and tier-III markets, and women customers are going to drive consumption. We expect 100% growth in new customers from these markets, 50% of which is expected to be propelled by fashion,\u201d says Smrithi Ravichandran, senior director, Flipkart. Fashion is a major growth driver for Flipkart, and it has helped reposition Flipkart as a value platform with offerings both in the private label and branded space. \u201cWe have addressed Big Billion Days from all three ends \u2014 service, assortment and capabilities \u2014to make customers buy more,\u201d adds Ravichandran. Last year, 55-60% of orders during Big Billion Days came from tier-II and tier-III cities. This year, Flipkart is looking at a 67% share, with a focus on affordability and services. Apart from fashion, it is looking at furniture (Perfect Homes) refurbished goods (through its 2GUD platform), recharges, and new launches on mobile, TV and electronics categories to drive growth. In addition, to boost digital payments and affordability quotient, Flipkart has just launched cardless credit\u2014an instant credit of Rs 60,000, based on scores derived from customer behaviour on the platform. This is in addition to easy EMI options on credit and debit cards. As per the RedSeer report, affordability and vernacular access are the key levers e-commerce players will be working on this festive season. Consider how Amazon is launching its festive campaign \u2014 India ke khushion ke beech mein budget nahin aayega \u2014 this week, which will run till Diwali. \u201cWe have signed up with banks for easy debit and credit card EMIs, as well as cardless EMIs on Amazon Pay for those who do not own credit cards or cannot access installments on debit cards,\u201d says Ravi Desai, director, mass and brand marketing, Amazon India. In addition, Amazon has also launched a Hindi app in order to lure first-time users. \u201cNew customers typically either buy low-value items or smartphones. No access to selection and right affordability has held back demand in markets beyond tier-I cities. We are addressing that with a focus on higher AOV (average order value) items and making them affordable through easy EMIs,\u201d adds Desai. In fact, over 65% orders at Amazon come from tier-II and III cities and towns, with over 50% of sellers hailing from such places. \u201cLast year during Diwali, 86% of new customers came from beyond tier-II cities,\u201d said an Amazon spokesperson.