Friday 14 October 2016

Festive sales not all a success like marketplaces claim; Sellers share the real story!
It’s been almost a week since the close of the three major festive sales in ecommerce:
Amazon’s – Great Indian Festive Sale (1st Oct – 5th Oct)
Flipkart’s – Big Billion Days (2nd Oct – 6th Oct)
Snapdeal’s – Unbox Diwali Sale (2nd Oct – 6th Oct)
According to reports, these marketplaces have broken their past sales records and gone beyond expectations. Flipkart came in first place with 15.5 million sales, Amazon placed second with 15 million sales and Snapdeal came in third with 11 million sales.
The etailers are quite ecstatic about their performances but what did online sellers experience during the sales.

The Seller’s perspective

To understand what online sellers went through during the festive sales, IOS collected a couple of seller opinions and experiences. Here’s what they had to say:

Before the festive sales

Online marketplaces took multiple steps to make sure their peak season sales go on without too many hitches.
Snapdeal revamped its brand just before the festive season. Giving it enough time to popularise its drastic changes and create a bit of unbox mystery.
Sellers responded to this with,
Some may feel the etailer is better off paying attention to things other than the way it looks and expresses itself. However, Snapdeal’s rebranding has managed to get it maximum visibility beating Amazon and Flipkart in this department.
The ecommerce platform also introduced new packaging. It gave sellers free packaging in exchange for their old packaging. But, some said this was ridiculous because the etailer was providing sample sizes and not accepting last Diwali’s packaging or willing to provide new packaging according to the seller’s requirements.
When we compared Flipkart and Amazon before the festive season, some bet against Flipkart, saying,

After the festive sales

After the festive sales held by the 3 major marketplaces in Indian ecommerce, we learned of their success but we wanted to know if the sellers were satisfied with their own individual sales. The festive season sales received mixed reviews from online sellers. Here’s a gist of what they had to say:
Praise and positivity or despair and dismay
The positive thing about the festive sales this year were the huge volumes mentioned online seller and MBOSS brand owner, Chirag Gada.
“There was demand across all sub-categories and sustained for 6 days straight. Timing of the event was excellent just after Shraadh and at the beginning of festivities. Amazon was very well organized and provided sales forecasts about 40 days in advance in order to help their sellers prepare for the event,” specified the premium luggage and bags seller.
Gada also mentioned that he saw a 5x rise in sales. He has received only a few product returns so far which haven’t dampened his excitement about the festival sales. Marketplaces are doing a good job overall, he informed IOS. For the next festival season, the seller expects to see reduced COD availability on top offers and heavily discounted items. This, he claimed will encourage sellers like him to offer even higher discounts.
Online saree seller, Pratik Bajaj said, “It was our second Diwali sale so we could manage the prices accordingly for good discounts to customers and no losses for us.”
He says that was the positive about the marketplace festive season sales. His personal sales expectations were not met. However, compared to the everyday sales there was a noticeable rise during this 5 day period.
Pro Right Infra Pvt. Ltd. sellers Rakesh, Madan and Varun are fairly new to the ecommerce business on online marketplaces. They have been in the business for only 7 months now and the 5 day festive sales have helped them promote their brand and business better.
“We received 2.5 more orders than usual,” the sellers stated.
They listed the following pros and cons that they experienced:
  • Increase in product visibility
  • Received first-time customer orders
  • Increase in orders
  • Logistics – Untimely order pickups product delivery
  • 27% product returns due to order cancellation
All three sellers suggested that online marketplaces can help sellers do better if they double check the reasons for returns and authorise only valid return claims. They also strongly believe that etailers especially Flipkart, must improve their logistic capabilities.
Bhavya Mehta told IOS, “We saw high traffic compared to last year’s Great Indian Festival. Sale’s grew by 200% within 3-4 days and are steadily stable till date.”
Bhavya said returns on Flipkart are still the same compared to last year. Amazon’s number of returns have definitely fallen significantly.
The overall sales on both marketplaces were good. On other marketplaces like Snapdeal, there were no significant results. The seller also said Mr. Voonik did not deliver good performance due to a communication gap and lack of desired seller support.
Design Street seller, Bhavesh mentioned, “My positive experiences this festive season were because of Amazon’s good shipping services and Flipkart’s seller assistance and good follow up. But with with Snapdeal there was nothing.”
Shaikh Hashim said he noticed a huge number of order cancellations. The footwear seller said he saw a 200% increase in sales compared to regular business days and a 50% rise in product returns inclusive of order cancellations.

No sales only returns!

Some online sellers didn’t witness any significant results after participating in the festive sales. It has them all wondering what marketplaces are raving about.
Online seller Robiul Islam’s been in the business of online retail for more than 3 years. He said, “As per my observation there was nothing positive throughout all the marketplaces. Compared to our everyday sales there was no a remarkable increase in orders. The only increase was returns that rose from 5% to 30%. There were lots of fake orders or intentionally placed order that were either cancelled or returned.”
“Order cancellations and returns should be stopped at least during the sales period,” the seller suggested.
Ankit Jain, another seasoned seller said he had a great experience with Amazon and Snapdeal. It was Flipkart that brought down his enthusiasm this festive season.
“100% of orders received during Big Billion Day from Flipkart were returned. The returns and fake products received increased by 10-15% this year compared to last year,“ Jain specified.
Online seller Jayesh Makhija, owner of Eladystore, has explained his frustration with Flipkart’s BBD sale on AIOVA’s seller forum. The online seller states that he followed his Flipkart account manager’s preparation instructions to the T but saw no results!
Jayesh was advised to:
  • Maintain sufficient stocks
  • Reduce prices
  • Not change prices
  • Work on Sundays
  • Order and use only Flipkart’s original packaging
  • Use Flipkart PLA during BBD
The sales he received after all this effort were miserable as you can see from his summary below:

The sales must go on

The online festive sales were certainly not a success for some sellers and returns were a predominant feature. Sellers do have a shot at redemption though with the second round of festive sales.
The record-breaking sales this month have gotten marketplaces hyped up about the season. So now, they plan on going through with phase 2 of their festive sales. Etailer Shopclues is running its festive sales campaign all month long and Paytm is only just beginning its Diwali sales event.
If the second round of ecommerce festive sales is anything like the first then the combined sales will be phenomenal and the current marketplace leaderboard may be rearranged.
Will sellers participate?
Online seller, Chirag Gada says with regard to Amazon, “The 2nd sale was always a probability and they had mentioned it earlier too. We are prepared and will be participating in this sale too. It’s the icing on the cake.”
What about those who didn’t experience any peak season success? Will they give up hope on the possibilities of earning profits during the festive season?

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