India’s e-commerce battle: Flipkart and Amazon compete for record festive sales

But this yr is especially essential because the world reels from financial fallout brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of Indian customers are nonetheless cautious of venturing into bodily shops, and Meena expects on-line sales to develop greater than 34% to $6.5 billion this yr.

“This is the time when consumers are actually in spending mode,” he stated, including that the roughly one-month sales interval is predicted to account for 18% of India’s whole on-line purchasing for 2020. “That’s why every company wants to win the battle during the festive period.”

Flipkart’s aggressive edge throughout the festive season

Flipkart was India’s single-largest on-line retailer in 2018 with 31.9% market share, in response to the latest report from Forrester. Walmart purchased the homegrown firm for $16 billion in 2018.

Flipkart’s seasonal purchasing occasion, Big Billion Days, kicked off on Friday.

The firm has constructed its technique round promoting reasonably priced items to the massive variety of center and decrease center class internet buyers in India’s smaller cities, in response to Rajneesh Kumar, Flipkart’s senior vice chairman and chief company affairs officer.

“A significant … number of people in India look for value for money,” Kumar stated. “If you provide the right value and the right customer experience, you will win.”

But Amazon (AMZN) is a formidable competitor. The firm was simply behind Flipkart with 31.2% market share within the Forrester report, and has developed a robust popularity within the nation.

Last yr, the US agency was ranked as India’s most trusted on-line retailer in an annual survey performed by TRA. The market analysis agency reported that 10 occasions as many respondents stated they trusted Amazon than they did Flipkart, which got here second.

“Flipkart and Amazon are neck-to-neck in the e-commerce wars, in terms of their product offerings, their initiatives to bolster affordability and increase consumer confidence, and most importantly, their last-mile delivery initiatives,” stated Prabhu Ram, head of the Industry Intelligence Group at analysis agency CMR.

Forrester’s Meena agreed, noting that “no clear winner” has but emerged.

But he added that with regards to festive sales, Flipkart has “an edge in terms of the amount of money customers spend.”

That’s as a result of Flipkart dominates on-line style sales, Meena stated, including that the corporate has robust tie-ups with smartphone manufacturers to supply huge reductions.

The significance of Diwali

Flipkart and Amazon every faced enormous difficulty delivering orders throughout the nation earlier this yr as cities had been locked right down to fight Covid-19.

Since then, they’ve labored to enhance their provide chains — particularly forward of the festive season.

Amazon opened a brand new warehouse in Bangalore this month to deal with the spike in vacation orders and employed 100,000 seasonal staff — 10,000 greater than final yr. Flipkart stated it employed 70,000 extra warehouse and supply staff to deal with the push, a 20,000-person improve over 2019.

Both corporations have additionally translated their platforms into extra languages, which they are saying will assist them attain extra customers in smaller cities and rural areas.

“We have geared up really strongly for the festive season,” stated Minari Shah, director of public relations at Amazon India. Amazon’s Great Indian Festival begins on Saturday, however members of its Prime subscription program have entry to offers a day earlier.

Like Flipkart, Amazon declined to speak about previous or projected festive sales figures, however Shah famous that “undoubtedly, [the holiday season is] a very important part of our calendar.”

Like the US retail occasions Black Friday and Cyber Monday, India’s internet buyers are loading up digital carts forward of time as they wait for sales to kick in. Retailers sometimes supply offers on style, smartphones and client electronics, in addition to vacation staples like candles, lights and different decorations.

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“Since I need to buy a couple of gadgets, I feel that I can wait for a couple of weeks until the sale starts and get a better deal,” stated Anshul Arzare, a banker who lives in Mumbai.

Arzare stated he has seen a spike in on-line purchasing because the pandemic began. In his condo advanced, “there’s a designated area for delivery boys, and at any given time you can see an Amazon boy there with 20 packages.”

The skilled stated he prefers utilizing Amazon.

“The experience has been quite good and I intrinsically have more confidence in Amazon’s product delivery rather than Flipkart,” he stated.

Jio is just not a serious menace, for now

The festive sales battle is happening as Asia’s richest man makes a play for the nation’s rising e-commerce market. JioMart, which is a part of Mukesh Ambani’s sprawling conglomerate Reliance Industries, made waves earlier this yr when it expanded to hundreds of cities across India — a transfer extensively seen as a problem to Amazon and Flipkart.
JioMart is a part of Jio Platforms, which has raked in additional than $20 billion in funding from the likes of Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG) and US personal fairness big KKR.

“Though it is fairly nascent, JioMart is ambitious, and with a cocktail of attractive discounts and cashback offers, will seek to entice online shoppers,” stated Ram, of CMR.

JioMart didn’t reply to a request for remark for this story. For now, it is just providing on-line groceries, leaving Flipkart and Amazon to duke it out over offers on smartphones, client electronics, clothes and households gadgets.

But JioMart plans to enter the fray quickly.

“In addition to grocery, we will expand JioMart to cover electronics, fashion, pharmaceutical and healthcare in the days ahead,” Ambani stated at Reliance Industries’ annual assembly in July.

Mukesh Ambani's JioMart expands to 200 Indian cities in challenge to Amazon and Flipkart

Flipkart stated it welcomes extra competitors.

Growing India’s e-commerce business “requires so much investment on the ground to build supply chain,” Kumar stated. “More players are good because more and more investment will come to build that supply chain.”

Whether it’s Flipkart, JioMart or another e-commerce participant, Shah stated Amazon tries to not get caught up in what rivals are as much as.

“We watch them, but we are always more focused and obsessed with our customers than with the competition,” she stated.

The competitors will solely intensify. E-commerce sales account for simply 5% of India’s whole gross merchandise worth, in response to an August report from consulting agency McKinsey.

But now, due to the pandemic, “the digital economy in India is in the throes of taking off,” stated Ram, including that corporations are additionally choosing up new customers as rural components of the nation come on-line.

“Some of the trends that we see this year will be here to stay,” he stated. “I do not see a return to the way we were.”

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