GOSF’s attempt to replicate “Cyber Monday” in India is misplaced

Google has tied up with several e-commerce websites in India to bring together an online shopping festival. Basically online buyers can expect a lot of lucrative discounts on a variety of products. The 3 day festival is called GOSF (Google Online Shopping Festival). Yes, this is supposed to be India’s version of “Cyber Monday”.

Last year the GOSF kicked off to insipid enthusiasm and more importantly criticism of users finding that the discounts on offer were either not lucrative and in some cases, the prices were over-inflated and then a hefty discount applied.

This year GOSF will probably see a lot less of that, but it has not been an auspicious start as gosf.in the official portal crashed in the first few hours. Google India did tweet out that the site should be up soon. At the time of writing this post, the portal was up and running.

GOSF_Discounts

The Logic is missing

The online retail business in India is growing but I cannot help feeling that GOSF is an misplaced effort. Yes, it would be nice to have India’s own “Cyber Monday” but there is logic behind the “Cyber Monday” phenomenon in the US. Thanksgiving holiday in the US is observed on every fourth Thursday in November. Many Americans have a long weekend off, which stretches from Thursday to Sunday. Some who go on vacation or travel do not have the option of availing Black Friday discounts which happen at retail shops on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Having super discounts on Monday (Cyber Monday) means a lot of buyers can enjoy their vacations and still avail great discounts online. This also was useful initially as not all houses had an internet connections and people used their office computers to shop online. And offices opened only on Monday after the long weekend.

This while science or logic behind “Cyber Monday” is totally missing with GOSF. The attempt is novel but maybe it should be held every year the day after the festival of Diwali takes place in India. It is a traditional festival when Indians save up and shop during. Or atleast have this festival in the first weekend of the month, which is closer to the first of the month and is a time when many online shoppers have just got their salaries credited into their account.

What do you think of GOSF? Do drop in your comments.

Amazon’s Drone Delivery: The Future or Marketing Gimmick?

Jeff Bezos the CEO of Amazon, yesterday revealed on a television program “60 minutes” that the company was working on sending five pound packages to people using drones. This would reduce the delivery time to 30 minutes. Amazon has been disruptive many times in the past and with same day delivery might even put small exclusive stores out of business. But using drones instead of actual people to deliver a package from a warehouse to a house in 30 minutes is disruptive on a totally different scale.

Amazon Drone Delivery
Amazon’s Drone will carry 5 pound packages within 30 minutes.

Such a drone does exist and is works in a program called Prime Air. The drone will sit on the conveyor belt and pick up the relevant package. Fly over to the recipient’s house and gently place the package down. According to a Verge article, the drone will travel over 10 miles and most importantly 86% of Amazon’s packages are smaller than 5 pounds. So the scope of using this drone is huge.

The video below shows how the octo-copter or drone will work.

But will drones for delivery work?

Amazon still has some technical problems like how to ensure they do not drop packages from the sky or manage to avoid people and things while landing in the real complex world. They also need see how the drones could sense where to place the package. The video demo the package is dropped in the front yard but what happens to packages that need to be delivered to high rises. But Jeff Bezos has declared 2015 as the year when the program kicks off and 5 years to get it running at large.

But those are just technical issues, there are major political and employment issues to deal with too. Lack of an actual person delivering packages means loss of jobs. Delivery inside 30 minutes could put provision drones or specialized stores out of business. Drones with sensors and cameras scouring over neighborhoods means an almost total lack of privacy which is something that will not be very popular.

Finally would local government bodies allow hundreds of such drones to fly through their airspace and not find it unsafe? Amazon will have to work very hard in convincing people and governments to firstly make this technology really viable.

Was this just a massive PR exercise?

The whole delivery by drone thing does sound like a major PR exercise for Amazon. They can always go back and claim a multitude of reasons to say the project did not materialize but what happened yesterday almost every media outlet was giving Amazon coverage and mostly in a positive light. Yesterday was “Cyber Monday” a day traditionally people shopped online in the US. And which name is the biggest in online shopping world? Amazon.

So basically Amazon got massive publicity on the biggest day of online shopping in the US. And they got this more or less free as this was news coverage not an ad campaign which costs millions of dollars.

So what do you think about Amazon’s drone program? Think it will succeed or will it be such a proto-type that got them a lot of publicity on a very convenient day?

Do drop in your comments.

3 Amazon sized headaches for Flipkart, Homeshop18 and others

Amazon has entered the crowded e-retailing market of India. With Amazon.in, the website is already selling books, DVDs and CDs all over India. Amazon.in will in the future start offering cameras, mobile phone and other electronic gadgets.

The launch is innocuous enough and it hardly has enough things listed to actually get a lot of purchases at the moment. But Amazon comes to India with some big guns and these guns are going to cause some headaches to the likes of Flipkart, Homeshop18 and Jabong.

1. The Amazon Fulfillment Centers

Amazon-Warehouse

This is what usually an Amazon fulfillment center looks like. It is basically a massive warehouse with miles of conveyor belt helping with the sorting of packages. According to an interview at AllThingsD, Amazon has confirmed a million square foot fulfillment center in Mumbai, India. It plans to add more such centers in the future. Other e-retailers in India might simply not have the resources to buy up such properties especially nearer metro cities.

2. Amazon Associates

Amazon Affiliates

Amazon has a really well run affiliate program. Flipkart and others might have their own but none are extremely popular as Amazon. Though Indian webmasters might be preferring Amazon because the payout is in US dollars. Amazon India has already hit the ground running with an affiliate program. Head over to affiliate-program.amazon.in and sign up with them to register with their program.

3. The Amazon Products Universe

Amazon_Universe

Amazon has certain things that they can offer, to which Indian companies simply have not an answer to. The Amazon universe is vast and has a range of services and products. The Kindle, GoodReads social network, the self-publisher eco-system called “create space” and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are things that even the likes of Google and Apple have not really been able to dent into.

But there is hope for Indian e-retailers. Online shoppers are a bit more loyal to websites they usually buy stuff from and have had a good experience. Also vendors if they are happy might stick with companies who have been in the game atleast locally far longer than Amazon.

This will mean Indian e-commerce sites better start focusing more on how happy their current customers are and not just focus on getting newer customers. The likes of Flipkart and HomeShop18 already have a large buyer base and might not be immediately feel threatened by Amazon. But I wonder what will happen to smaller players in the sector.

India’s e-commerce sectors is set for maturing but it will not do so before a lot of churning and eventual demise of non-serious players takes place.

What are your views on Amazon India? Do drop in your comments.

Link: Amazon.in

Flipkart Launches Marketplace to Entice Vendors

Flipkart has launched Marketplace. It is mainly a place for vendors to sign-up and sell directly to customers. The shipping will be handled by Flipkart’s own logistics partner. That basically means with Marketplace, Flipkart will now allow third-part vendors to sell their merchandise online.

With this step it joins eBay India, SnapDeal which also have similar e-commerce marketplaces. It also becomes a lot similar to how Amazon works in the US, where it allows vendors to sign-up and augment their own offers.

Flipkart Marketplace for Vendors

How to signup to Flipkart Marketplace as a vendor?

  • At the moment there is no automated place to sign-up and fill in your details. It requires vendors to send in an email to vendor@flipkart.com to get an invite..
  • The account username seems to either be an email address, display name or a phone number. I guess these three could be used to register as an vendor.
  • There seems to little or no information about how this process works except that vendors will use Flipkarts own logistics setup.

Flipkart Marketplace might threaten smaller e-Commerce

Though Flipkart has bought some big e-commerce sites like LetsBuy and offered a MP3 store along with a digital bookstore to leverage itself against other e-commerce sites, it was still losing out to smaller websites offering unique and niche products. Getting vendors into the action will help it offer a wider variety of products to customers.

Usually Flipkart was known for its quality of service – especially the last mile delivery mechanism. I was once joking with a friend that looking at their reliability of their in-house delivery service, they should also offer courier service. I guess in a way that is what Flipkart is doing. It is leveraging its infrastructure and increasing the variety of products it offers by getting vendors into its fold.

Sites like e-Bay India which also have vendors selling stuff, often do it for a lot lesser price than say Flipkart. It will be interesting to see if Flipkart allows vendors to sell products at rates that are lower than what they themselves are offering.

Have you registered as a vendor on Flipkart or know someone who has? We would love to hear more inputs you might have in your comments.

Link: Flipkart Marketplace

Websites where you can buy iPad mini in India

After iPhone 5, Apple launched its latest tablet in India i.e. iPad Mini and iPad 4 a couple of days back. As expected; the product is out of stock but some websites still have them. Let’s have a look at the websites where you can get your iPad Mini in India and the best price for it. The official price for this tablet is 21,900 INR and you have to pay at least this amount to buy one. You can try coupon codes if you have them but Great Online Shopping Festival coupons are not applicable here.

ipad mini buy india online

Websites, Price and Delivery Time:

Flipkart: Its one of the most popular e-commerce website of India. The price tag is same 21,900 but unfortunately this device is currently out of stock for the 16GB model in both the colors. You can go for a 32GB model which is in stock and will be delivered in 2-4 days.

Homeshop18: Search on Google about the online price of iPad mini in India and most of the websites will say that Homeshop18 is giving it for 19,400 INR, well that’s not true, the price is same on this website as well and the product is currently out of stock. Once it’s available, the website will take 5-6 days to deliver it to you. So it will be better if you order it from Flipkart.

Snapdeal: Same official price, but it’s out of stock on this website.

MirchiMart: Product is in stock here and the expected delivery time is 2-4 days. You can also use their EMI option (check the website for more details). This website is not very popular as compared to other Indian e-commerce website. May be that’s the reason why iPad Mini is available but since I have never ordered something from this website so I can’t tell you about the site. If you have ordered something then don’t forget to share your views with us. Price is same 21,900 for the basic model.

Saholic: In stock and the product will be delivered next day for Delhi and will take a couple of days for Mumbai. You can check the delivery time for other cities on their website. EMI option is also available here. Same price tag.

Tradus: In stock, 3-5 days delivery time and it’s a popular website but still I won’t recommend it to you because of the price. You have to pay 25,999 for the basic model, so it’s better to buy a 32GB version from Flipkart than this 16GB model.

Please share your views about these websites or if you have already ordered an iPad online. Drop a comment below for any doubt. :)

 

Compare Prices on Your Android Phone with MySmartPrice App

Imagine you are a store that sells mobile phones or laptops. Usually I have used MySmartPrice’s website to compare prices offered by online retailers. It sometimes can help you get a discount from a physical store. More importantly you know if you are not getting ripped off. MySmartPrice has rolled out a Android app which also allows price comparison.The listed items are several and the prices are mined from several Indian e-commerce websites.

MySmartPrice’s Android App to Compare Prices

  • I found the app very simple. The focus mainly geared towards mobile phones, electronics goods and computers.
  • Browse through the categories and look up the name of the company under which various items are sub-categorized. It shows the list of those items available with their prices.
  • Tap on one of them and we get the cheapest price of that particular selection. We can swipe and look up specifications and also a complete list of prices from various online retail portals in India.
  • I was a little disappointed to not find a “books” category to look up the prices. I guess for books available on Indian sites, you might like to check out Low Price app.
Check out MySmartPrice’s Android app and do drop in your comments.

Google to host Great Indian Shopping Festival in India on 12th December 2012

I have always wondered why online retailers in India do not have something that is similar to “Cyber Monday” discount sales. In the U.S, online retail giants offer special discounts on the Monday that follows the “Thanksgiving weekend”. India does not really have anything similar for its online shoppers.

That is hopefully about to change with Google joining hands with the largest e-commerce portals in India to roll out a single day discount event.

Google - Great Online Shopping Festival

It is dubbed the Great Online Shopping Festival and has popular online retailers like Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong, HomeShop 18, snapdeal, Big Rock, Yebhi and many more are involved.

Why are “Shopping Festivals” important in the online world?

Why physical retailers have their shopping festivals coinciding with festival holidays like Diwali and Christmas. Online shopping festivals with attractive discounts act try to replicate the sort of heavy shopping activity. Even though India has over 120 million internet users, buying things online has not really caught on as much as it has in other countries.

Maybe such coordinated efforts would give it the right amount of boost for online shopping to really take off in a big way in India.

Do visit GOSF website and let me know your views on discount sale festival in your comments.

Link: Great Online Shopping Festival