An online shopper or not, you could have hardly missed the week-long online shopping extravaganza hosted by major e-commerce stores at the start of this month. From funny TVCs introduced weeks before to sneak peaks teased the e-stores left no stone unturned to attract customers in droves. While at the same time, they had also prepared to handle the anticipated surge in traffic and sales with ramped up logistics and technological support.
Having recently been a part of this grand online sale season, Mehul Jobanputra, CEO of DesiDime.com, India’s largest online shopping community, has shared some insights on the trends witnessed in online shopping during this peak time.
To begin with, as compared to last year, Desidime.com saw a 150% increase in discussions and comments happening around deals from the top three merchants: Flipkart, Amazon, and Snapdeal. The buzz was highest on October 1, 2, and 3. The shopping community also witnessed an 822% jump in daily transactions happening for these stores. This is hardly surprising as internet penetration in India is growing, year on year, and the e-commerce stores recorded five-fold growth in new customers during the sale season.
On the whole, Flipkart and Amazon lead the race, followed by Snapdeal, Tata Cliq, and Shopclues, in terms of discounts, traffic, and sales. In the first few of days of the festive sales, Desidime.com helped its merchant partners sell goods worth more than Rs 50 crores.
One important trend observed this sale season was that the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities of India are fast catching up to the trend of online shopping. With high-speed internet now available in smaller towns and villages, all e-commerce sites reported tremendous growth in traffic from places like Lucknow, Jaipur, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Tripura etc. While DesiDime itself received almost double the usual traffic from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, Amazon reported that 70% of its new customers were from these geographical areas and orders from Tier 3 cities had increased 30 times during the 5 day sale period. Similarly, Snapdeal registered 20 times growth in traffic from these cities and Shopclues has claimed 153% increase in its mobile app downloads from Tier 3 cities.
Speaking about the medium that online shoppers preferred this sale season, we have seen a clear bend towards mobile phones this year. 35% of the transactions that happened during this festive season were driven via mobile apps, 50% purchases done from desktop and only 15% from the mobile sites. This was majorly owing to the fact that all the e-commerce stores were offering higher cashback, and in some cases, special deals on the same products, on their mobile apps as compared to their desktop sites.
During the first two days of the sales which fell on a weekend, the most popular category was Home Decor and Furniture. Since it was a weekend, and the pre-Diwali period had begun, couples and families got a great chance to shop for such items together. Treading on its heels were Apparels, fashion accessories, Heath and Beauty products. While Mobile Phones and Electronics were undoubtedly at the top in terms of popularity, a couple of things stood out at the festive sales 2016. iPhone 6S and iPhone 5S witnessed the lowest ever price dips across all e-commerce stores and they were an unsurprising a hit among most shoppers.
Furthermore, exclusive mobile phones launched on Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal were running off the shelves in minutes. DesiDime helped merchants sell over 2,500 exclusive mobile phones only within a few hours of the sales opening at midnight. Apart from that, one thing that was missing from online shopping or was less common until the sale season began is Exchange Offers on mobile phones and laptops. The e-commerce merchants were slashing off another couple of thousand rupees or more from the MRP of the products in exchange of old devices, thus making the discounts harder to resist. As this also made it easier for the customers to dispose of their old devices at a good resale price, buying a new mobile phone became easier for them this sale season.
Finally, with respect to the mode of payment, the trend was seen shifting towards Online Payment rather than COD, which had so far been the favorite option for customers at checkout. This was largely due to special cashback offered by various banks on a use of their debit or credit cards for payment. These exclusive Bank offers alone drove more than 70% of the transactions for the merchants.
Another equally preferred payment mode during the sale season was Gift Cards and Vouchers because the e-stores were offering extra discounts on them. The number of Gift Cards and Voucher offers seen this year has been the highest in the history of online shopping in India so far. The customers too were quick in working out the extra saving potential of these offers and grabbed them with both hands.
All in all, while it was true that there were fewer products that were deeply discounted as compared to two years ago, the e-commerce sites still managed to pull customers with more indirect discounts like exchange offers, bank cash back, and Gift Vouchers.