[UPDATED] How big was the Big Billion Day?

[UPDATED] How big was the Big Billion Day?

Tuesday October 07, 2014,

8 min Read


If you're a Flipkart customer, you must have gone through some amount of agony while making purchases during the Big Billion Day. Keeping true to its reputation and philosophy of great customer service, Flipkart went ahead and apologized to everyone. When was the last time you saw an organisation saying sorry to their customers for not living up to the promises?

Dear Customer,
Yesterday was a big day for us. And we really wanted it to be a great day for you. But at the end of the day, we know that your experience was less than pleasant. We did not live up to the promises we made and for that we are really and truly sorry.
It took enormous effort from everyone at Flipkart, many months of preparation and pushing our capabilities and systems to the limit to be able to create this day. We were looking at fulfilling the dreams of millions of Indian consumers through deals and offers we had painstakingly put together for months.
And though we saw unprecedented interest in our products and traffic like never before, we also realized that we were not adequately prepared for the sheer scale of the event. We didn't source enough products and deals in advance to cater to your requirements. To add to this, the load on our server led to intermittent outages, further impacting your shopping experience on our site.
An unprecedented 1.5 million people shopped at Flipkart yesterday. While we stand humbled by the sheer faith that such a large number of customers have shown in us, we are unhappy that we were unable to live up to the expectations of millions more who wanted to buy from us yesterday.
And this is not acceptable to us.
Delighting you, and every single one of our customers, is absolutely the top most priority for Flipkart and we have worked very hard over the last seven years to earn your trust. Yesterday, we failed that trust. We have learnt some valuable lessons from this and have started working doubly hard to address all the issues that cropped up during this sale.
Price Changes As we were preparing various deals and promotional pricing in the lead up to the sale, the pricing of several products got ​changed to their non-discounted rates for a few hours​. We realise that this breaks the trust our customers have put in us. We are truly sorry for this and will ensure that this never happens again.
Out-of-stock Issues We ran out of the stock for many products within a few minutes (and in some cases, seconds) of the sale going live. For example, most of our special deals were sold out as soon as they went live. We had ensured availability, anywhere from hundreds to a few lakh units for various products, but it was nowhere near the actual demand. We promise to plan much better for future promotions and ensure that we minimise the out-of-stock issues.
Cancellations We had large number of people buying specific products simultaneously. This led to some instances of an order getting over-booked for a product that was sold out just a few seconds ago. We are working round-the-clock to ensure availability of additional units for these products and will do our level best to ensure that we minimise any cancellations.
Website Issues ​We realise that the shopping experience for many of you was frustrating due to errors and unavailability of the website at times. We had deployed nearly 5000 servers and had prepared for 20 times the traffic growth - but the volume of traffic at different times of the day was much higher than this. We are continuing to significantly scale up all our back end systems so that we do a much, much better job next time.
Everything that we have achieved at Flipkart is purely on the basis of our customer's trust and faith. This is why we come to work each day and continue to remain extremely passionate about building the best possible customer experience for Indian consumers. We failed to live up to this promise yesterday and would like to apologise once again to every single customer for our failure.
Thank you.
Sachin and Binny
It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.

The famous American author and humorist, Mark Twain sums the ecommerce war in India pretty well in the above statement.

As a market leader in the Indian ecommerce industry, Flipkart has redefined 'big' in many ways in the year 2014. Be it the big acquisition of Myntra (for an estimated $300 million), or the big funding of $1 billion, nothing of this scale was witnessed before. Riding on the same wave, the ecommerce giant had announced the biggest sale day for 6th October. It was called 'The Big Billion Day' and concluded few hours ago. On one side (which was slightly heavier), it attracted a lot of backlashes on social media, while on other, the company claims that it was able to achieve its sales target of $100 million in GMV in a matter of 10 hours only (fixed as 24 hrs initially).

Also read: Ecommerce wars – what is the real deal amid all the offers and discounts?


YourStory explores the very 'big' nature of the Big Billion Day.

Big Promotion

The climax for the 'Big Billion Day' by Flipkart has been building since last month by ads on television, print media, YouTube, and more. There were two video commercials made to promote the big day, one of them featuring stand up comedian Vir Das.

An email specifying the emotional significance of the date 6th October to the founders Sachin and Binny Bansal was sent yesterday to all the subscribers. Here's what it was like:

Sachin and Binny
610 – The number of the flat from where Sachin and Binny Bansal began a journey in 2007 that no one in India had ever seen before!
6.10 – The day India will see an event like never before!
It’s the Flipkart Big Billion Day!
You have seen the ads – and now the countdown for what we believe will be the greatest sale ever in the history of our nation, has begun. With products across categories like large appliances, books, toys, mobiles, laptops, cameras, clothes, shoes, bags and watches available at heavy discounted prices, Flipkart promises to offer lots of surprises and interesting deals for every Indian on “The Big Billion Day”.

There were more than 10000 field staff to make sure that the ordered product during the deal day is delivered on time.


Big Response 

Achieving $100 million in GMV within 10 hours would have definitely given a reason to smile to the Flipsters amidst all the backlash on twitter. But the happy customers also made sure that there good wishes are reaching the ears of Flipkart. Here's what they had to say:


Sachin And Binny Bansal expressed their gratitude at the end of sale,

“The Big Billion Day is an unprecedented day for us as this is the biggest sale ever in India.
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.
Our teams and sellers worked days and nights to make this sale a success – and our efforts paid off. We got a billion hits on our site today and achieved our 24 hour sales target of $100 mn in GMV in just 10 hours.
We are truly humbled by the immense faith our customers have shown in us. And this inspires us to dream bigger,”


Big bashing and big jokes

The following tweets captures the mood of tweeps about the #BigBillionDay .


Big fight

Not everything went perfectly for Flipkart on this day. The morning newspapers carried Snapdeal's print advertisement (on front page immediately after the jacket ad of Flipkart) trying to belittle the BigBillionDay's claim of discounts, while the domain bigbillionday.com was redirected to Amazon India. It is yet to be known if it was Amazon's ploy or some enterprising person's 'creativity'. [UPDATE]

76. Flipkart Snapdeal

At the end of the day, Flipkart is left with the happiness of achieving the target earlier and the thoughtfulness of how to avoid the customer dissatisfaction (at this scale) next time. We'll leave you with the following tweet which caught our attention:


 What do you think about the BigBillionDay? What should have been different?

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