The e-tailers War
Couple of years back when flipkart’s first set of commercials got aired in television; I was attracted very much like anybody. The kid, shrugging his shoulder coolly, saying ‘I don’t buy anymore. I just flipkart it’, undeniably grabbed the attention. For an essay in my vernacular Tamil, in a web magazine, on the topic of Current uses and Future applications of Internet, I gathered data two years back. Having decided to focus on e-commerce and e-governance, which were only gearing up by then, here, I gathered relevant information. During which I came across a report which said the e-commerce market comprised just about 0.1% of the net sales nationally. Two years on, I’m afraid, even sure, that this figure would’ve dramatically changed.
Before the arrival of Amazon, in India, Flipkart – the e-commerce company started by the two former Amazon employees- had almost the entire online market for itself. Though there were competitors then, the competition was not as taut as its now. After Amazon joined the race in the Indian market last year the race began to pick up its pace. In the mean time more new companies came up and snapdeal- once a toddler- has made its moves carefully eying the ‘big daddy’ status.
This is the first time ever during the festive sale in India; we’ve witnessed an open competition among the e-tailers at such a massive scale. This might well be a trailer of the heralding trend that is to follow here after.
Flipkart created unprecedented hype around its ‘The Big Billion Day sales’ with exclusive commercials to seduce buyers, weeks before Oct 6th, the day of actual sales. Amazon perhaps not to hit head-on with its arch rival Flipkart, on the very day, remained silent. Instead it has already announced it’s a whole week of festive sales (Oct 10-16th) hinting mega discounts. Nonetheless Snapdeal, the next after these two biggies, waged its war against Flipkart, more openly than ever, through newspaper advertisements. By the end of their planned D-day, now both the companies have announced to have registered sales of $100 million each.
Torrent of discounts, umpteen combo offers, lenient EMIs and other flexible payment offers, exclusive offers for specific credit card purchases; attract users to these online portals. Such luring schemes and discounts are merely the baits in their business hooks aiming for more new users. At this point it is important to remind about the recent Indian visit of Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, and his personal meeting with PM Modi, during which he has reportedly promised an investment of $2 Billion in India.
Such a huge investment at this time, from the world leader in e-commerce couldn’t be just taken as the company’s strategy to meet Flipkart on field. Instead it only proves the potential prospects of the Indian e-market in the future. The deep penetration of internet facilities, especially post the smartphone boom, even in Tier- II and Tier-II cities has enabled the users in these cities too to access these facilities. Tapping this market wasn’t possible a few years ago.
The Himalayan discounts may prove dream-come-true for the customers but not certainly the retailers in the country. Over a period of time, in steps, the possibility of these online giants engulfing the ordinary retailers is not too remote. The retailers have already started to urge the government to device rules to regulate the booming online sales. But practically speaking, chances are thin for the government to intervene in this.
Perhaps this is the next big change, in the post globalized India that we are to endure after the new economic policies and it’s after effects.