Diwali Shopping Phenomenon
Nationwide, its been widely acknowledged that Diwali is the biggest festival in India. And, what does a festival mean? Festival means meeting family, friends, lots of sweets and of course shopping! This has been the norm for decades! But then, 2014 was different for India, so much so, that Minister for Commerce & Industry – Nirmala Seetharaman had to say this about complaints on Flipkart Sale Day
Flipkart’s ‘Big Billion Day’ sale on Monday, that offered steep discounts on various products, has raised concerns among small and big traders that such campaigns would badly affect players in the traditional retail market. “We have received many inputs. Lot of concerns have been expressed. We will look into it,” Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here.
So, what has changed? Here are the four things that have changed in the aftermath of the Big Billion Day on Flipkart, and similar discounts on all other players!
Smartphones have gone truly mainstream
While mobile was there in the pockets of Indians for a long time now, what has happened is that Smartphones have truly gone mainstream. Look at the offers going out – there is a smartphone element to everything . There is such a race to push apps to consumers, that extra discounts are being offered to make the app more attractive. This phenomenon started with Whatsapp going mainstream, and more and more people taking up data connections. The other day, the driver who drove me to the airport in Ahmedabad asked me the following:
Kya iss Samsung pe Whatsapp aata hai? (Does whatsapp work on this Samsung phone?)
This is truly the first MOBILE FIRST Diwali in the country, and the offline retailers just weren’t ready for it!
Online retailers and their funding warchest
Online retail makes anything available everywhere, that too at a great price. Checking top comparison engines tells you the story – flipkart, amazon, snapdeal, myntra are all in a league of their own when it comes to prices. Offline retailers will have to come up with something innovative as well, since Online retailers are entering the market with huge funding – Flipkart recently raised one billion dollars, amazon 2 billion, and Snapdeal too raised undisclosed funding with Ratan Tata himself participating.
Inhibitions to buy online reducing
Even now, roughly 10-15% business has gone online, and not more. Yet, why the offline retailers are feeling the pinch is that these 10-15% consumers were the top buyers. They were the ones who brought ‘Diwali’ to their shops in previous years. Now, with Mobile apps etc, people can shop on the go, and the products get reliably delivered to their offices/homes within 2-3 days. They have seen this with friends, and this has reduced inhibitions to buy online.
Unconventional tactics – Customer focus and unlimited choice
One big change that online players have brought to the table is customer focus. In order to attract customers, Online Players are taking customer service and customer focus to another level. Product bunding, discounts when shopping above a certain amount, same day delivery etc are taking customer focus to another level. Such level of customer focus isn’t found in the offline world. Just creating a huge offline store for customers to come and shop isn’t going to be enough from now on. True problem solving for customers is something that will win customers from now on. This has stumped the offline retailers in some way.
The future – will it be Online all the way?
So are winds blowing the online way only? I wouldn’t say that just yet! I would still back offline giants to come strongly back into the ring, with innovative solutions to overcome these challenges. They surely can, and thats when it would be interesting!
But this Diwali, the true winner in this hullabaloo has been the consumer! ‘Grahak Shakti’ has truly been on view in Diwali 2014, and that is the prime reason why 2014 Diwali has been different!