Flipkart, India’s largest online retailer, said that it sold products worth $100 million in only 10 hours as part of its “Big Billion Day” sale on Monday and that its portal had generated a record 1 billion clicks. India's online retail industry is gearing up for the beginning of the local holiday shopping season, and rivals such as Amazon.com too have been offering significant discounts to attract customers.
Flipkart's sale, which had vied for air time on national networks with other online retailers over the last few days, offered discounts of up to 90 percent on various products ranging from analog clocks and digital cameras to smartphones and tablets. The sale, which was compared by some customers to the Black Friday sale in the U.S., is being viewed as Flipkart's effort to extend its lead over rivals, such as Amazon and Snapdeal.
“We got a billion hits on our site today and achieved our 24 hour sales target of $100 million in GMV (gross merchandise value) in just 10 hours,” Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, Flipkart’s co-founders, said in a statement, obtained by Mint, a local business newspaper. The company reportedly generated sales worth $1 billion in GMV in 2013-14.
However, soon after the sale went live, Flipkart’s site reportedly experienced problems and customers were confronted with error messages. Some buyers also claimed that many items that they saved in their virtual shopping carts went “out of stock” by the time the servers were restored. Disgruntled users took to social media to mock the event, which Flipkart claimed to be the “biggest sale ever in India.”
Here is a list of people who actually succeeded to buy something on FlipKart yesterday! pic.twitter.com/nLH8nVMQRX
— Sanjay Rathod (@Sanjay_Vis) October 7, 2014
— Chutzpah Bajirao (@bizzarebhide) October 6, 2014
The co-founders attributed the technical glitches to the fact that the company's servers experienced "the largest scale of traffic and customer visits e-commerce has witnessed across the country.”
However, Flipkart also faced criticism from some customers who said that certain offers advertized by the company could not be found on the website on the day of the sale while others complained that prices on Flipkart’s website were hiked up in the days leading up to the sale, Business Standard, a local news publication, reported.
Meanwhile, Flipkart’s sale is expected to set the tone for this year’s holiday shopping season in India, which usually sees an increase in demand for various products, including clothes, electronics, cars and jewelry. Amazon had offered a three-day sale, dubbed "Mission to Mars," over the long weekend.
The e-commerce segment, which accounts for less than 1 percent of the overall retail market in India, is estimated to reach $22 billion in five years from $3.1 billion currently, according to a report by CLSA, a Hong Kong-based financial services company.