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Flipkart and Amazon battle it out for fashion and electronics during sales

Team YS
19th May 2017
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During the Big 10 Sale, Flipkart claims to have exceeded their set sale targets of 5X of a normal day.

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The past few days saw the first big face-off between the country's e-commerce market leaders Flipkart and Amazon this year. The third horizontal player, Snapdeal, which is on the verge of acquisition by Flipkart, also participated in what could be its last sale as an independent player.

For Flipkart, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary, the Big 10 Sale from May 14 to May 18 has given the company business equal to the non-sale business it sees in a month. Smrithi Ravichandran, Senior Director at Flipkart, said in a statement, "Flipkart's Big 10 Sale is a grand commemoration of all the love and support we have received from our customers over the last decade. Over the past 10 years, we have relentlessly innovated on all our products and services to offer customers an envious selection across product categories. This has helped us connect with our customers from every nook and corner of the country, and the response has been overwhelming."

Amazon, meanwhile, witnessed their biggest fashion sale ever during their Great Indian Sale from May 11 to May 14. Snapdeal, which ran its Grand Unbox Sale from the 14th to the 16th, witnessed a fourfold jump in sales during this time.

During the Big 10 Sale, Flipkart claims to have exceeded their set sale targets of five times that of a normal day. Together, Myntra and Jabong, both owned by Flipkart, did 2.5 times of a normal day during the Big 10 Sale, according to a press release. Flipkart's digital wallet PhonePe witnessed a thirtyfold increase in usage. Over two lakh customers transacted for the first time using UPI in a single day, says the release.

Never before seen

Traffic and average order value was two times that of a normal day for Flipkart, with 90 percent of traffic coming from mobile. Enjoying a strong hold in the electronics and mobile phones category, Flipkart claims that the sale of smartphones in the first 24 hours of going live has been the highest sales ever done in one day on smartphones by any retailer in 2017. Flipkart clocked three times more sales than the sales of smartphones done, across both offline and online, in one day in the country.

For Amazon, the famed Prime service was the top selling product. A statement from the company said that more customers bought a Prime subscription than any other product. Purchases by paid Prime members have doubled since the Amazon Great Indian Sale in January 2017, accounting for 35 percent orders.

"We are amazed and humbled at the response to the Great Indian Sale. It surpassed our expectations in prime member subscriptions, new customer acquisition, and set new sales benchmarks," said Manish Tiwary, Vice President- Category Management, Amazon India.

Top categories

In an aspirational consumer base like that of India, it comes as no surprise that iPhones led the sales for Flipkart, which had introduced the iPhone7 in the country during their Big Billion Days sale in October last year. Flipkart claims that the number of iPhones they sold in the first 12 hours since the midnight of May 14 was equal to the number of iPhones sold in the whole of India in 15 days.

For Amazon, apparel was the highest selling product category by units. A majority of top fashion brands witnessed upwards of ninefold growth. Premium watches performed well too, with brands like Casio clocking upwards of sixfold sales. Hard drive sales also set a new record: on Day 1 of the sale, Amazon sold twice the number of hard drives than the whole of India buys in a day.

L to R: Amit Agarwal, Jeff Bezos, Sachin Bansal, Binny Bansal

Thanks to the scorching heat, ACs and coolers registered a sixfold growth for Snapdeal. Amazon also witnessed fifteenfold growth in ACs and elevenfold in refrigerators.

Tier 2 and 3 cities rule

As e-commerce maintains its steady growth, the pace is supported by Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, which are slowly beating Tier 1 cities. For Amazon, customer acquisition in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities saw 235 percent growth during the sale. Amazon states that new customer acquisition has seen more than 500 percent growth in Tier 3 and Tier 4 towns like Singrauli, Alwar, Dholpur, Muzaffarnagar, and Shivpuri.

For Flipkart too, purchase by customers from Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns rose to 6X during the sale. For electronics, nearly 60 percent of customers were from Tier 2 cities and below. (TVs and appliances sales jumped over 9x of normal days.)

For Snapdeal, the sale witnessed highest growth from the North and West, with all regions more than tripling the average sales. Within cities, the largest number of buyers came from the likes of Lucknow, Patna, Jaipur, Bhubaneshwar, Kanpur, Jammu, Nagpur, Varanasi, Ludhiana, Jamshedpur, and Surat.

Demonetisation effect?

Whether it is the after effect of demonetisation or a natural transformation in customer behaviour, a higher number of customers chose cashless transactions than ever before during the sale. There was significant growth in Amazon Pay usage, with ten times as many customers loading money into the digital wallet. Amazon, which witnessed a twelvefold increase in the number of exchange orders, including for washing machines and refrigerators, also saw a threefold increase in No Cost EMI orders.

Multiple options for financial assistance have given a boost to the sales too. With Flipkart, close to 70 percent of customers buying smartphones on the platform opted for affordability levers like No Cost EMI, Buyback Guarantee, and Product Exchange. At Snapdeal, maximum sales were reported in the prepaid category, which offers 10 percent additional discount on SBI cards.

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