Country's largest e-commerce marketplace Flipkart will host its fourth annual flagship BigBillionDays sale starting on September 20 and is expecting sales during the five-day period, until September 24, to grow between three-fold compared to last year.
It was Flipkart's tremendous sales performance during the festive season last year that revived the company and helped it stay ahead of global rival Amazon. This time around, with a $4 billion war chest, the e-commerce major is looking at deepening its play in the country's hinterland.
"We've always said that BBD is an event for India. The way we've seen customers from tier 2 and tier 3 towns come online and shop thanks to what the telco operators have done is great. Last year we saw a double digit growth in customers coming from tier 2 and tier 3 towns, but this year we are expecting triple digit growth," said Smrithi Ravichandran, senior director at Flipkart.
While the company says it will continue to focus on higher spending urban customers with offerings such as EMI on debit cards, no-cost-EMI, and even an option to pay for a product only after it has been purchased, a lot of focus has been put on offering deals tailored to customers from smaller towns.
A great example of this focus on small-town buyers this year, Ravichandran says is offers on mobile phones costing as low as Rs 2,000 as compared to last year where offers began on devices costing upwards of Rs 5,000. It's the same across categories, with the company saying it has put in a lot of effort on curating the right kind of products for buyers outside of metros.
Flipkart might be looking at ways to make it easier for customers to stomach larger purchases on its platform, but says deals and discounts will continue to be an integral part of its flagship sale. The company is once again eyeing massive growth rather than retaining market share after raising nearly $3 billion over two funding rounds this year.
"We are constantly looking at ways of reducing customer pain points or addressing some issue. However, price still remains the biggest value proposition for customers. You cannot completely walk away from discounting, but the overall offering is what makes it a very compelling offer for the customer to buy on Flipkart," added Ravichandran.
Rival Amazon, which has committed to invest $5 billion in India, will once again be looking at the festive season sales as a way to overtake Flipkart in terms of market share. The US-based company has been significantly ramping up its investments in the country over the past one year, claiming that majority of the money has gone into setting up infrastructure here.
While there's definitely a price war brewing in the country's e-commerce marketplace, especially given that Alibaba and Softbank-backed Paytm is now vying for a chunk of the market, analysts say the heyday of solely relying on discounts to win customers is over. Armed with better customer metrics, these companies have figured out ways of maximising sales with a minimum number of deals.
Taking last year's estimate of $1.2 billion in e-commerce sales during the Diwali season and Flipkart's 2017 guidance of a two to three times sales growth, the country's online shopping industry is bound to hit a massive high this year.