Even before the discount dhamaka, Google Online Shopping Festival sizzles with action this year

By: | Updated: December 10, 2014 8:53 AM

While largest e-tailer Flipkart has parted ways, complaints of predatory pricing cloud event...

GOSF GoogleWhile the Google Online Shopping Festival is slated to be held between December 10 and 12, Flipkart’s Big App Sale starts from December 8 and goes on till December 12.

WITH Flipkart deciding to give this year’s Google Online Shopping Festival (GOSF) a miss, consumers now stand to indulge in two extra days of shopping, thanks to the e-commerce company’s own discount fest, Big App Sale, which starts two days earlier than GOSF. While GOSF is slated to be held between December 10 and 12, Flipkart’s Big App Sale starts from December 8 and goes on till December 12.

While major e-tailers like Amazon, Snapdeal and Jabong, among others, get ready for the three-day GOSF, Flipkart is all set to roll out its own jamboree, complete with discounts and via its mobile app. Shoppers couldn’’t have asked for more. An Amazon India spokesperson says, “We have partnered with Google previously for many of their events including the Grand Diwali Mela and we have received a great response from customers. We will continue to partner with Google wherever we see an opportunity to provide an easy, convenient and enjoyable shopping experience for customers.”

The GOSF, one of the biggest e-commerce ventures of Google, started in 2012 and has tied up with over 450 brands and e-com portals for offering discounts to online shoppers this year. “We have partnered with all leading players including Amazon, Snapdeal, etc. Flipkart is the leading company which has decided to not participate this year,” says Nitin Bawankule, industry director, e-commerce, Google India.

Last year, during the GOSF, the servers had crashed resulting in Google having to declare an extra day of sale to keep the promise of a three-day shopping carnival for online consumers.

“Being a marketplace, Snapdeal does not play any role in pricing of products, the sellers who are listed on Snapdeal price their own products. We work closely with our listed sellers to provide them insights to price their products competitively and also run promotions from time to time to offer best prices to our customers,” says a Snapdeal spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the heavyweights of India’s retail have united their forces to take on the slaughtered sales due to their online counterparts. With letters to the ministries of finance and commerce, those with significant interests in the retail business such as Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Aditya Birla Group, ITC, Bharti and Future Group have complained against predatory pricing on e-commerce platforms.

The Retailers’ Association of India (RAI), the apex body of major retailers whose member list includes RIL, Aditya Birla Group and Bharti, among others, is now seeking clarity in norms for the e-commerce sector, as well as for the overall retail sector in the Indian market.
Kumar Rajagopalan, RAI chief executive and former chief executive of Shoppers Stop, confirmed the filing but refused to comment further.

The Indian e-commerce sector, which is pegged around $4 billion, is expected to grow up to $15 billion in the next two years, as per a Google survey. While the traditional retail sector accounts for the bulk of India’s $600-billion retail industry, the majority of it is unorganised. The e-commerce sector’s share remains only up to 4%. This year alone, the investments in e-commerce sector have been somewhere around R20,000 crore, which is four times of what was invested in the previous year.

Although protests by offline sales channels against the mammoth discounts offered by the online sellers like Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal, to name a few, have continued since mega sale events such as Flipkart’s Big Billion Day Sale and Amazon’s Diwali Dhamaka Week recently, it’s the first time that the big boys have complained against the new entrants.

Last month, RAI held a meeting with the Confederation of All India Traders in Mumbai to discuss the need for clarity regarding retail on the Web. After buyers complained against Flipkart’s Big Billion Day Sale, the government had clarified that e-commerce companies are covered under the Consumer Protection Rights Act. Several established retailers like ITC have already started testing the online model by launching their own e-stores, while maintaining offline businesses.

At the time of street protests by mid-sized and smaller traditional channels, major companies of the sector had kept their distance, showcasing divided opinions among them.

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