Flipkart, Amazon, Paytm festive sales draw tepid response on social media

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Flipkart, Amazon, Paytm festive sales draw tepid response on social media

The festive sale war between e-commerce companies like Flipkat, Amazon and Paytm began on a jarring note with exuberance missing on social media.

The e-commerce festive sale war between etail giants Flipkart, Amazon and Paytm has drawn a tepid response on social media with many customers posting screen grabs of their bad experience on the first day of the four-day discount offers.

India's best funded startup Flipkart, which kicked off the season with its sale at 12 midnight, did not trend on Twitter or Facebook even after 12 hours of the sale. Neither Amazon, which started the sale for its Prime subscribers at noon, nor latest entrant Paytm Mall found a spot at the top.

In the previous editions of the sale, Amazon and Flipkart have trended for hours, an indication of how many people were talking about it on social media. Till Wednesday noon, Mumbai rains was the top trend.

However, consumers did take to Twitter to post screenshots of their complaints. These included orders getting cancelled, and instances of MRP being jacked up to make discounts appear more attractive. One of them showed a higher MRP displayed for an Apple iPhone 7.

"We have handled a number of such complaints about ecommerce portals over the years through the Advertising Standards Council of India. Consumers have been misled with inflated MRPs and deceptive ads which make it seem like the said discounts are for all," says Consumer Online Foundation founder Bejon Misra. The portals may allow the offer to a few customers and tell the rest that the scheme is over, he adds.

Kunal Khattar, partner at early stage venture capital fund advantEdge, says this is how the firms limit discounts and offer it only on a fixed number of units."They get you excited; you go online and find that it is sold out. They announce sale dates and make a big deal of it. But not all products are on discount on all the days mentioned."

CUSTOMERS MISLED?

Often, the products don't exist at the mentioned price, according to Consumer Online Foundation's complaints department head, Pooja Khaitan.

"Though the site confirms an order at a certain price, they later blame it on glitches and say it can't be delivered at the initial price."They just want people to click on their site. It probably earns them a few points with their investors. By the time a complaint is settled, the sale will end and the portals get what they want. here is no control over such practices," Mishra adds.

Flipkart did not respond to Mail Today's queries. Rival Amazon India's V-P Manish Tiwary, said, "We are taking all necessary steps to ensure that the customer experience is not compromised."

A Paytm Mall spokesperson said they have reinforced their back-end systems to deal with the massive surge in traffic during the sale. The e-commerce wing of the mobile wallet company expects 5-6 million new users in the period.

RedSeer Consulting has estimated that the e-commerce industry's gross merchandise value will touch $1.7 billion (Rs 10,000 crore) this festive sale season, up from $1.05 billion last year.

This is the first Diwali sale after Flipkart landed a $2.4 billion funding. It came after a significant lull in investments in the sector and gave the homegrown firm fresh ammunition to take on deep-pocketed rival Amazon, which is led by American billionaire Jeff Bezos.

While startups are widely expected to limit cash burn and focus more on profitability as investment is harder to come by, the sale season has seen companies bring out their cash power.

"Discounting spends of the companies increase by 20-30% during these sale days," says Red Seer Consulting's head of retail Shubham Anand.

While Paytm Mall has reportedly set aside Rs 1,000 crore for the season, Amazon has doubled its infrastructure and warehousing capacity.

However, Khattar says there is a definite reduction in amount of discounts this year. "The offers and discounts are moving towards products of higher margin, not necessarily higher volumes. They are focusing less on products like mobiles that have lower margins," he adds.

Oppo India, which retails smartphones both online and offline, says its focus is more towards offline channels to provide best purchase experience.