It all began with Flipkart, the online shopping platform, launching teasers around 'The Big Billion Day' sale for October 6. The teasers were buzzing all over social media platforms and television with news about the forthcoming sale. Flipkart positioned it as something that has never happened.
But not everything goes to plan always.
On the day of action (October 6), Flipkart's archrival, Snapdeal.com launched an offensive and came out with a sale offer on the same scale. Online customers had indeed never seen anything like this.
Snapdeal had been running its Diwali Bumper Sale campaign with 50 television stars and was all over television and social media along with other regular platforms. Its campaign did not have a date but was carried out under the general Diwali Bumper Sale. The portal also placed ads on its Facebook page to promote the sale.
Snapdeal also took a huge media inventory, spread across television, online, print, digital and other media. Sandeep Komaravelli, senior vice president, marketing, snapdeal.com, says, "#Today was the extension of our brand promise of providing the best products to people at the best prices. We got good traction from netizens, but it is not as if we have created something because our competition is doing something. This was part of our Diwali Bumper sale campaign. We knew that Flipkart was coming with a sale, but we continued our campaign and only said, 'Check Snapdeal.com before you buy'. The timeliness of the campaign was another big reason for its success."
According to Google trends analysis, Flipkart is trending in India. The search traffic for Snapdeal also saw a 90-degree turn on the day. The scrap, if it could be called that, brought back memories of the old cola wars.
Planning gone wrong?
Navin Khemka, managing partner, north and east, Maxus, says, "Sale and discounts are a thing of surprise, one does not take that much of time to launch it because it gives competition the time to respond, which happened in this case."
Says P M Balakrishna, chief operating officer, Allied Media, Percept Group, "The consumer does not shop because a portal has put an offer. The consumer compares prices before making any decision. Today, what has happened is that both are trying to outshout each other. But this is necessary also, because if they do not, then consumer will ignore them, so it is a war that will be escalated in the times to come and none have an option but to outshout each other. One should not call it an ambush."
He further adds that online offers convenience, price comparison and more opportunities to the customers. "Now there is Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon and - in times to come - there will be more such occasions. This is good for consumers."
Flipkart, however, received a lot of flak on social media after many of the products were listed as 'out of stock', the site slowed down considerably as the day progressed and speculation of inflated pricing gained momentum. The mega sale may - as the players claimed it has - or may not have created record-breaking sales. But it did light up the day like never before.