India’s Cyber Monday – GOSF 2013

The Great Online Shopping Festival (GOSF) by Google, is India’s answer to Cyber Monday. GOSF is an online retail festival with about 200 participating e-tailers. In 2012, the festival saw under a million customer queries, which doubled in 2013. Most retailers and payment companies who participated saw increases in daily volumes ranging from 3x to 10x, while most of the first-time buying was from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.  STOrai analyses.

The second edition of Google’s Great Online Shopping Festival (GOSF) had more than 200 retailers participating in the virtual shopping fest. India’s answer to the internationally popular Cyber Monday saw nearly 16 million people within four days (December 11 to 14 2013) buying everything from homes, to cars to apparels. The festival drew in the first time online shopper in huge numbers, 60% of the total number of buyers experienced virtual shopping for the first time.

E-Retailers’ response
“We have seen a phenomenal increase in the traffic and sales right from the first hour of the festival –  premium brands have seen the maximum traction.  Revenue during the festival has increased five-six times more than a usual day,” said Manu Kumar Jain, co-founder of online lifestyle store, Jabong, which was among the many e-commerce firms which hopped onto the online shopping festival platform.

E-commerce_2Tata Housing sold more than 50 apartments with a sales value of over Rs. 25 crores across four projects during December 11-14. About 30 percent of the booking came from NRIs and 40 percent was from tier II cities.

Vikas Ahuja, CMO, Myntra, said, “GOSF 2013 started on a great note for us and we saw positive results from day one. Our traffic grew approximately 2 times and revenue growth was 3.5 times, versus the preceding few days. We saw significant pick-up across all our core categories. This was in line with our expectations.” While Mukesh Bansal, CEO & co-founder of Myntra, added, “Such customer reactions are a testament to the promise and future that online shopping holds in our country.”

Rajan Anandan, Vice-President & Managing Director, Google India, said, “With over 200 million internet users in the country, more users are opting to shop online fuelling the growth of both large multinational and home-grown companies. Industry estimates suggest that there are close to 20 million online shoppers in India and it is estimated to grow to 50 million in the next few years, making it a $16 billion industry.”

E-commerce majors, Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong and Snapdeal, were the most visited sites during the event, but brands like TATA Value Homes, Nissan, BlueStone and TATA Motors were the highlights as the Indian consumer, not only shopped for apparels but bought houses, cars and jewelry online. Tata Value Homes claimed that its GOSF initiative took off strongly. In one of the first online reaE-commerce_3l estate selling initiatives, Tata Value Homes claims to have sold 22 units in just 2 hours and ended up with a tally of 55 units in the four days of GOSF ’13.

For most participating e-tailers,  the online festival acts as a catalyst to attracting the first time buyers. Given the dynamics of the e-commerce business where the cost of customer acquisition is high, the payoff from offering higher than normal discounts during GOSF will come about if they are able to convert first time buyers into regular customers. Vice President (Marketing) Sandeep Komaravelly says as much: “Initiatives like GOSF act as a catalyst to further boost adoption of online shopping in India. In fact, a lot of these new shoppers become repeat buyers and add up to the traffic on the website,”

Paying your way
Payment partners of GOSF 2013 included the organizations like Airtel, Intel and Paytm who not only used the platform to sell but also helped create awareness about online shopping and drove user participation. Airtel, for instance, offered flat 10% cash back on all online transactions on top of other offers by participating websites to customers who transacted using Airtel money. The company also gave away a free dongle on new 4G and a free Wi-Fi modem on new broadband connections.

Targeting the first time buyer
GOSF helped convert first time buyers.  Normal per day volumes on all e-commerce portals in India is about 1.5 million, GOSF days attracted 4 million people to explore these sites. Demographic proportions remained largely unchanged with females outnumbering males and SEC B, C, D and E-commerce_4E audiences leading the segments. The GOSF site got 2 million unique visitors this year with 62% of shoppers in the ages 18-34 and almost 50% being women. The most viewed categories according to the internet search giant were electronics, shoes and watches.

Non Metro Customers abound
One more interesting trend observed during the event was that the non-metro residents, in large numbers, logged in to shop. Last year, according to the online marketplace, Snapdeal, a majority of sales during GOSF came from metro cities at 66% followed by tier 1 cities at 17%, tier 2 at 9% and tier 3 at 8%. This year the tier-wise sales distribution was more homogenous with metro cities at 34%, tier 1 at 22%, tier 2 at 25% and tier 3 at 19%. Studies also showed that more than 40% queries came from mobile phones.

E-commerce_6The event not only benefitted but also contributed to the flourishing space of e-tailing in India by introducing a huge pool of first timers. A recent report put out by KPMG-IAMAI estimated that, over the past three years, the Indian e-commerce industry has grown 150%, increasing from $3.8 billion in 2009 to $9.5 billion in 2012. More than 200 million internet users, penetration of internet through mobile phones and safe and easy payment methods are the factors that are contributing to increase in online shopping. Industry estimates suggest that there are close to 20 million online shoppers in India and it is estimated to grow to 50 million in next few years, making it a $16 billion industry.

Not without its teething problems
The largely successful GOSF 2013 was not without its share of problems, e.g.  the crashing of the website due to huge traffic on the first day and issues related to availability and delivery. Google recovered from the initial surge in volumes within hours and was able to use it to its advantage by extending the festival.  Some of the operational glitches were due to the fact that e-tailers were not prepared for volumes surge ranging from 3x to 10x.

E-commerce_7Given that online shopping is still at initial stages in India, experiences like these will help the organizers be better prepared the next year and focus on improving the overall shopping experience.

Formal consumer feedback studies are awaited on GOSF – for now, from a business perspective the event was a success and is likely to see it’s third and subsequent editions.

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Retailers Association of India (RAI) is the unified voice of Indian retailers. RAI is a not for profit organization (registered under section 25 of Companies Act, 1956), works with all the stakeholders for creating the right environment for the growth of the modern retail industry in India. RAI is the body that encourages, develops, facilitates and supports retailers to become modern and adopt best practices that will delight customers. RAI has a three charter aim of Retail Development, Facilitation and Propagation.