India's largest e-commerce company Flipkart received a lot of criticism on the social media for crashing website, products being out of stock, and puffed up discounts being offered on its 'Big Billion Day' sale.
And if that was not enough, the company's competitors like Snapdeal and Amazon took the fight to Flipkart by providing similar offers/discounts on their respective websites. While Amazon did not give any official statement on the matter, its team shared recent press notes of how aggressive the company had been since for the past couple of weeks. They also tried to hijack the Flipkart's fame by calling it a single day blitzing.
"For others it's a big day. For us, today is no different. Best savings guaranteed every day," read a Snapdeal ad that also carried a Flipkart Big Billion Day sale ad. "Check Snapdeal.com before you buy," the ad further read, subtly suggesting that the company would offer even better prices.
Earlier, Amazon also did a campaign asking customers, "Why have a one day dhamaka when sales can happen every day." In an attempt to further steal Flipkart's customers, Amazon also purchased the Bigbillionday.com URL and put its Indian marketplace Amazon.in its landing page.
All these players have been running month long discounts and campaigns owing to the Diwali festive season.
In order to strike a personal chord, Flipkart's founders Sachin and Binny Bansal (not related) had earlier sent emails to customers informing them about the event. They had even talked about the significance of 6-10 (October 6 and hence the day was chosen; we wonder the Big Billion Day was used to show the recent billion dollar funding or the billion dollar sales benchmark) numbers in their lives, mentioning that it was the flat number from where they started their business.
Social media backlash
As part of the sale, the company was offering 'deep discounts' across 70 product categories on the e-commerce site. Some of the offers that customers saw on the site included multiple items at price of Rs 1; up to 30 per cent off on smartphones; laptops starting at Rs 15,000; fashion and perfumes at 50 per cent off; and toys at 50 per cent off, among others.
In addition, there were different offers on some of the company's exclusive brands such as Xiaomi, Motorola and Asus. It also had lucky draws and cash back offer on certain credit cards throughout the day.
Owing to the overwhelming response, the Flipkart site crashed multiple times. The company acknowledged the same with a statement that read, "You may be facing issues shopping on our site right now - sorry! We're fixing this as we speak and will be up and running in 15 minutes!"
Many disgruntled customers also took to micro-blogging site Twitter to speak out against the company. One of them tweeted that while he had made the payment for a product, the website did not acknowledge receiving the same.
In addition, a number of customers who had logged in to the website as early as 8 am- in order to make the most of the sale- were also left annoyed, since many of the heavily discounted products became 'out of stock' within minutes of the start of the sale.
"@shilpakannan its 8 minutes after @Flipkart sale opened and how can most things be out of stock already? #ecommerce," read another tweet.
A website called Mission sharing knowledge even accused Flipkart of giving discounts on artificially inflated priced products.
"Van Heusen slim fit men's trousers which were hovering between Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,700 in the last one month have suddenly shot up to Rs 2,200 in just 1 day! Cool techniques to show people a huge Rs 500 discount on their favourite trousers on October 6," it said in one of its comparison statistics.
$100 million in GMV in 10 hours
In spite of the customer backlash received by the company on social media, the company claimed that Flipkart.com got a billion hits during the course of the day. The company further claimed that it achieved its 24 hour sales target of $100 million in gross merchandise value (GMV) in just 10 hours on the Big Billion Day sale.
"Our technology team has been dedicated towards addressing errors and providing constant support to accommodate the largest scale of traffic and customer visits e-commerce has witnessed across the country," the company said in an official statement later in the evening.