GOSF: A Retrospect

The excitement over Google’s Great Online Shopping Festival had been high for almost the entire week. Google, along with over 50 partnering online retailers had picked up the ante in promotion through both online as well as offline media such as Television and Radio. The Great Online Shopping Festival or GOSF was touted to be the Cyber Monday for Indian consumers. However, early reactions from most folks on social networking sites as well as top tech and start up blogs had given the indication that GOSF was actually just another marketing gimmick. However, the real story seems to be somewhat different.

We folks at MySmartPrice have found that GOSF was a day like no other in Indian online shopping history. Tumultuous traffic for online retailers, unbelievable conversion rates and some truly significant high ticket purchases took place yesterday. In some cases, transactions on a single day for a store far exceeded the entire month’s average sale.

However some of the questions that remain unanswered in most of the coverage of GOSF are the following:

1)      Was it only offline buyers who were compelled into purchasing online?

2)      Was it only low ticket items that did well as is typical with most Coupons based deals?

3)      Did non-participating sites miss out on a great Deal?

Here, we have attempted to answer some of these questions:

The problem was of finding good deals and not a lack of them

The general feedback on GOSF was negative across social networking portals. Netizens and the Twitteratis had cried foul over the deals provided by most of the participating sites, claiming the actual discounts weren’t up to expectations.  However the real problem was the confusion caused by having too many discounts running at the same time. There were even miscellaneous problems such as transactions failing or coupons being inactive or invalid which caused great ire to customers.  To solve this problem we had put together a page with all great deal in mobiles, cameras and tablets. That page went on to get more than 100 tweets and was one of the most trafficked page yesterday.

GOSF wasn’t just attractive to offline buyers

While it may seem that lower expectation may have deterred seasoned online buyers from buying on GOSF, the story is quite different. The offline marketing campaigns may have compelled new buyers to try out the various deals.  However, even sites such as MySmartPrice, who have not drawn on the marketing potential of GOSF by being partners or using SEM, have found a massive spike in sales going through us. It clearly shows that transactions were not just based on media hype but the actual quality of the deals provided. While our traffic numbers seemed constant, the overall transactions spiked by about 200% in just 1 day (check graph below). Clearly, GOSF deals were attractive enough to convert even hardened deal hunters.

gosf1

Ticket Sizes have been significantly higher

While the concept of deals is not new to Indian online retailers, and in most cases online retailers have found flash sales and one-day sales to be big hits, the typical transaction value or ticket sizes have often remained small. However, for GOSF 2012, the transactions values have literally been off the charts.  Our own figures show a massive jump over almost 300% in typical transaction value in just one day.  On average we saw significantly higher sales for high ticket items such as expensive smartphones, laptops and electronic goods.   It may have been because of folks saving up to purchase for Christmas or because there seems no other compelling sale day in the near future ( Holi Sale being probably the next big thing ). GOSF has certainly pushed people to jump the gun and buy the latest iPhone or iPad mini or S3 without waiting for prices to drop in the early part of next year. For retailers and affiliates such as MySmartPrice, this meant higher earnings and margins as well.

gosf2

The GOSF hype has helped even the non-participating sites

The Great Online Shopping Festival must have provided grand dividends for participating sites. With news of online sites doing almost 2X to 3X their average monthly sales in a single day in some cases. Even travel and baby sites saw significant transactions on the single day owing largely to much more attractive deals on these sites. However, the hype around GOSF was not just beneficial to the 50 odd participating sites, but even non-participating e retailers. On most cases, Non-participating sites saw up to 60% increase in their daily transaction rates.  The hype has certainly helped bring the concept of online shopping even to laymen. The overall effect of the campaign has helped online retailers in general irrespective of actually being a part of GOSF or not. Prices were low enough even for non-participants to compel users to purchase.

Conclusion

The Great Online Shopping Festival could not become the Cyber Monday for Indians, as expected by deal hunters and experienced online buyers, as most of the deals were run on the mill and the discounts were pretty average. However, for e retailers around the country, the day had provided record breaking sales opportunities. The hype of GOSF was high enough for GOSF to trend on twitter for almost half a day. Despite serious flak online, sales volumes sky rocketed for even non-participating sites. What is more interesting is that whilst the intent of GOSF was to break the concept of online shopping to even hardened offline buyers, the deals were equally compelling for seasoned deal hunters. In the end the motive of GOSF to convert a lot of offline buyers to ecommerce sites and Google and partner ecommerce sites have definitely succeeded.

Guest Author: Ashwin Sreekumar Nair, heads the Coupons section for Mysmartprice. He is a graduate of State University of Buffalo, New York and holds an MBA in Marketing from Amrita School of Business.