Ecommerce fires Bengaluru airport to hit 26-month high cargo shipment

Source: ETRetail.com, Nov 25, 2020

Bengaluru: The Kempegowda International airport in Bengaluru has processed 34,339 metric tonnes MT) of cargo in October, recording a 26-month high in tonnage.

The airport witnessed a highest-ever domestic outbound tonnage of 8,117 MT in October, largely driven by e-commerce shipments, according to a press release from the airport operator, BIAL .

Perishable commodities, which have been the major growth driver for the airport in the year 2020-21, continued to be the top international commodity, accounting for 12% of total exports in October. Doha emerged as the top destination in October 2020, with 1,095 MT of cargo.


After becoming the first airport in India to record positive growth in September 2020, the trend has continued in October 2020 as well, registering a 0.1 % increase compared to October 2019.

The record single-day Air Traffic Movement (ATM) was 52 ATMs on October 22, with the day witnessing a volume of 1,359 MT of Cargo, the press release added.

Govt moves to set up open e-commerce platform

Source: The Hindu Business Line, Nov 25, 2020

New Delhi: The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is moving to set up an e-commerce platform to provide easy access to all, including small traders and producers. To this end, it has set up a steering committee for formulation, implementation and policy oversight of Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC).

“It will be a neutral e-commerce platform which may provide equal opportunities to all and provide easy access to e-commerce not only to traders but also consumers.

This step of the government was much awaited in the wake of a large number of complaints of malpractices by existing e-commerce companies,” explained Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary-General, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), who is part of the steering committee.

Earlier this year, the work of carrying out a pilot on the ONDC was given to the Quality Council of India.

The steering committee, according to a DPIIT order of Tuesday, will initially build consensus and, once the project gets underway, ensure that it continues to meet the set vision, goals, and objectives.

More to be done

“The government, it seems, is testing the water to see what kind of an open platform is required and feasible to increase accessibility and reach of e-commerce. It is just the initial stage and a lot of work will need to be done before the idea can be given a concrete shape,” a Delhi-based researcher told BusinessLine.

Khandelwal said that such a platform will give consumers the right to choose better products at reasonable prices and with efficient and responsible delivery system. The committee is headed by a senior DPIIT official and includes representatives from the Department of Commerce, the Ministry of Electronics and IT, the Ministry of MSME and the NITI Aayog. Quality Council of India Chairman Chairman Adil Zainulbhai, NPCI Technology CEO Dilip Asbe and NSDL Technolgoy CEO Suresh Seth are also part of the committee and will provide domain expertise. Apart from CAIT, a representative of the Retailers Association of India will also be part of the committee to give industry inputs.

Over 70,000 Indian exporters gear up for Black Friday, Cyber Monday sale through Amazon

Source: The Economic Times, Nov 24, 2020

New Delhi: E-commerce major Amazon on Tuesday said more than 70,000 Indian exporters who are part of its ‘Global Selling’ program are gearing up to showcase millions of ‘Made in India’ products during its annual Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale on Amazon.com. On Black Friday last year, Indian exporters had seen a 76 per cent year-on-year growth in the total units sold and on Cyber Monday, they witnessed 55 per cent year-on-year growth in total units sold, a statement said.

“The exporters are launching thousands of new products on Amazon’s global websites for the upcoming holiday season,” it added.

The Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale starts on November 26 and ends on November 30 this year.

“Amazon customers globally will be able to discover and enjoy a range of products including gifting options like STEM toys, fashion jewelry, teas and beverages, beauty products, leather journals and bags by exporters from across India,” the statement said.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are significant events marking the beginning of the holiday season in the US with large-scale shopping from customers for gifts for friends and family.

Black Friday is celebrated a day after Thanksgiving with retailers wooing potential shoppers with special deals and discounts.

Online retailers had started offering special promotions on the Monday that followed Thanksgiving weekend (similar to Black Friday sale by brick and mortar stores), hence the name Cyber Monday.

‘Made in India’ products across categories like health and hygiene, nutritional supplements and home essentials have heightened demand from customers in markets like the US, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Japan, Australia, amongst others, this year.

Amazon said it works with Indian exporters to help them identify key holiday shopping trends to bring in relevant product assortment, supports them with logistics solutions to get their inventory ready, and guides them to market their products through a range of deals and advertising options.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) is an important time of the year for Indian MSMEs on Amazon Global Selling as it marks the beginning of the global holiday season, Amazon India Director – Global Trade Abhijit Kamra said.

“Coming right after the festive season in India, it has traditionally been a key growth period for our selling partners and with more and more people relying on e-commerce for products globally, we believe that the 2020 BFCM sale period will help accelerate the exports business for our sellers,” he added.

Exports will continue to play a critical role in the revival and growth of Indian economy and e-commerce exports help lower the entry barrier for Indian MSMEs to build and scale their exports business, Kamra said.

“Through Amazon Global Selling, we will continue to make exports easy and accessible for MSMEs across India and contribute to the government’s vision of boosting exports,” he added.

Some of the globally popular Indian brands from Amazon Global Selling who would be offering their unique products and creations this holiday season include Jackinthebox Toys, jewellery brands like Aheli and Jewel Zone, and SVA Organics.

The company had launched Amazon Global Selling programme in 2015 with about 100 exporters.

It has now scaled to over 70,000 Indian exporters who sell products to customers worldwide through 15 international websites in countries such as the US, the UK, UAE, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Turkey, Brazil, Japan, Australia and Singapore.

The programme has already crossed the USD 2 billion-mark in cumulative exports. In January this year, Amazon had pledged to enable USD 10 billion in cumulative exports by 2025.

Disney joins e-commerce market in India

Source: ETRetail.com, Nov 24, 2020

The jostle for the e-commerce space may have just become tighter as Disney India has joined the competition.

On Monday, the American media giant unveiled shopDisney (shopDisney.in), its e-commerce marketplace, offering a variety of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars products from authorized international and domestic licensees.

To begin with, it is offering over 3,000 items across categories, including fashion, toys, apparel, back-to-school, accessories, and gifts. “ShopDisney will also offer Disney-designed shipping boxes, special services like gift wrapping, and delivery to more than 500 cities across India,” it said.

Now, consumers have the option to choose from a curated range of best-in-class, authentic licensed merchandise inspired by their favourite stories and characters such as Mickey and Friends, Disney Princess, Frozen, Marvel’s Avengers, Spider-Man, and more.

“With shopDisney, our endevour is to bring genuine Disney licensed products inspired by our stories and characters to every household in the country. shopDisney will extend the magic of Disney and be a truly immersive experience for kids and families wherever and whenever they want,” said Sanjeet Mehta, Executive Director and Head, Consumer Products, Disney India.

E-commerce firms push electronics sales

Source: LiveMint.com, Nov 13, 2020

E-commerce firms Flipkart and Amazon as well as omni-channel retailers such as Reliance Digital are making a final push towards big-ticket electronic and smartphone sales in the last leg of Diwali, with heavy discounts and quick delivery methods.

Walmart-owned Flipkart has seen an increased consumer appetite for electronic products in the run up to Diwali, as part of its ‘Big Diwali Sale’ which commenced on 8 November. The e-tailer saw demand from customers almost double in electronics over the corresponding period last year.

Continued work-from-home has also resulted in e-tailers witnessing a continued demand for laptops and desktops, audio, connected devices, personal health care products, and other long-tail devices which have emerged as the top categories for online commerce firms.

Amazon India’s month-long ‘Great Indian Festival’ (GIF) sale, which is drawing to a close on 13 November, saw over 1.5 million customers buying a smartphone from the e-tailer for the first time. The category got 40% customer growth from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

Even Reliance Digital has jumped on the bandwagon and is trying to lure customers with heavy discounts as well as newer constructs like 3-hour instant deliveries, for electronics, while leveraging their omni-channel presence through the store network.

“The consumer sentiment towards festivals has been very positive … we also witnessed an increased uptick for several of our constructs such as product exchange and payment options with the latter posting a growth of 2x-3x across a few categories. For large appliances, we witnessed a growth of nearly 1.5x over the same period last year with an increasing number of consumers opting for product exchange and affordable payment constructs,” said a Flipkart spokesperson.

In partnership with Samsung, Flipkart has introduced a ‘Smart Upgrade’ plan, where users can buy a Samsung Galaxy smartphone by paying 70% through EMIs, with the remaining 30% taken off the price of the next smartphone upgrade.

Even Amazon India along with banks such as HDFC is offering additional discounts on smartphones, running exchange offers up to ₹6,000, and providing no-cost EMI up to 12 months, to customers, in a bid to boost ‘affordability’.

“With customers from 99.3% of India’s pin codes placing orders on Amazon.in from sellers in over 6,387 pin codes, the Great Indian Festival truly brought festive spirit across the country. We added lakhs of direct and indirect jobs and enabled tens of thousands of local stores and service partners across 350 cities who witnessed their most successful business month of the year” said Manish Tiwary, vice president, Amazon India.

Amazon India in a recent note also said that customers are upgrading their work and study from a home setup with 10 laptops or desktops, 9 routers, and 4 printers bought every minute on its platform, during the sale.

Top categories selling on Amazon India during the festive sale continued to be smartphones, large appliances, fashion, consumer electronics, as well as home and kitchen products.

Apart from the top two e-tailers in the country, Reliance Digital has been offering heavy discounts on bank cards, for electronics and leveraging its omnichannel play by promising delivery of products in less than 3 hours from its nearby store infrastructure.

“This is a part of the overall omni-channel value proposition of empowering the consumers to choose from a wide variety of fulfillment options for his/her purchase with Reliance Digital. INSTA Delivery is a promise to deliver your favorite product in less than 3 hours.

The omnichannel value proposition also allows consumers to order online and pick up the product from any one of the digital stores,” Reliance Digital said in a statement.

After telecom, Mukesh Ambani now targets online retail with a price war

Source: Business Standard, Nov 11, 2020

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani obliterated rivals in India’s telecommunications sector by selling $2 data plans and free voice calls. Four years later, he’s deploying a very similar tactic — cutthroat pricing — to gain an edge in the country’s increasingly competitive e-commerce space.

As India this week hits the peak of its biggest shopping season, the festival of Diwali, the tycoon’s retail websites — including JioMart — are elbowing their way into a space long dominated by Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s local unit Flipkart Online Services Pvt.

Ratcheting up competition, Ambani’s portals are offering blockbuster discounts of as much as 50% on popular sugary confections and other holiday staples like spice mixes for India’s rice delicacy, biryani. Meanwhile, his Reliance Digital website is selling some flagship Samsung smartphones at prices cheaper than rivals, with as much as 40% rebates.

It’s a push that comes as Ambani’s sprawling conglomerate, Reliance Industries Ltd., is flush with cash. After raising an eye-popping $20 billion for its technology venture, it’s shifted fundraising to its retail arm, which has won over $6 billion in investment in recent weeks from heavyweights like KKR & Co. and Silver Lake. Already India’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer, Ambani’s online ambitions pit him against the two U.S. giants, both of which have invested big in India.

The country, one of the last big consumer markets, is still up for grabs, and Morgan Stanley estimates that India will generate $200 billion in e-commerce sales by 2026. Yet, the billionaire’s triumphs in telecommunications — where he started as a tiny player, but outpaced established rivals by undercutting them on price and capitalising on regulatory changes — are a cautionary tale for the American giants.

Huge Edge

In retail, Ambani’s firm has a huge edge: Government policies are increasingly stacked in favor of domestic retailers, of which Reliance is the largest. Since the end of 2018, India’s foreign investment rules have also barred Amazon and Walmart’s local unit Flipkart from featuring exclusive products and owning inventory, in a bid to restrict their ability to directly influence prices and offer discounts. International companies aren’t allowed to own more than 51% of local brick and mortar supermarket chains. Even that limit is subject to conditions such as setting up only in cities with populations of less than 1 million.

With his local strategy, low-cost procurement and chain of brick-and-mortar stores, Ambani has the ability to shake up online retail, said Siju Narayan, Chief Experience Officer, RexEmptor Consult LLP in Mumbai. “JioMart can dent the fortunes of grocery e-commerce majors like Bigbasket & Grofers,” he said, referring to the country’s biggest online grocers.

“And impact the grocery, home & personal care category of e-tail majors like Amazon and Flipkart in coming days.”

Representatives for Reliance and Bigbasket declined to comment, while those for Walmart, Amazon and Grofers didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Tweaked Rules

Ambani’s success in telecom shows his ability to benefit from pricing and policy. India’s government tweaked rules in 2013 to create a “unified license” that allowed operators with a broadband wireless permit to offer voice calls by paying a one-time fee. Only one operator had such a permit nationwide at that time – Reliance Jio. The new rules helped it move swiftly.

After receiving a unified license and rolling out Reliance Jio’s telecom services in September 2016, Ambani sold voice and data plans at rock bottom prices. That made digital services more affordable for millions of Indians. Although rivals won similar licenses, some went bankrupt amid the ensuing price war, including his younger brother Anil’s Reliance Communications Ltd. Non-state operators in telecommunications eventually dropped to three from at least a dozen. Jio turned profitable in 2018. It’s currently India’s biggest wireless operator with over 400 million subscribers.

High Stakes

In India, the stakes are high for the American retailers. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s hard-charging founder and chief executive officer, has pledged to invest $6.5 billion there. Walmart spent $16 billion in 2018 to acquire Indian portal Flipkart in its biggest ever deal, and has invested over $1 billion this year in the e-tailer and steadily plowed cash into its sister unit, payments service PhonePe.

But for Ambani, 63, Asia’s richest man with a net worth of $78 billion, the e-commerce push may turn out to be tougher than telecom. First, he will be up against formidable rivals. The wireless operators he defeated were mostly homegrown players, lacking the heft, experience and deep pockets of Amazon or Walmart. Also his group’s e-commerce websites are newer compared to its rivals’.

Reliance group’s JioMart – which only started this year and is still in the beta phase – has had delivery snafus and refund delays, and some users haven’t been shy about venting on Twitter. All that means winning big against Walmart and Amazon could take years.

Future Business

Yet, getting it right is key because Ambani has cast retail and technology as the future of Reliance, which got its start in textiles under his father and then progressed into petrochemicals and oil refining. Two of his oldest children, Ivy-league educated twins Isha and Akash, are on the board of Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd.

Reliance is already India’s biggest company and its market capitalisation of $185 billion equals about 6.6% of India GDP. Its heft would only increase if it wins a greater foothold in e-commerce — something that’s increasingly becoming important in India, which has suffered a lockdown for much of the year due to the pandemic and where organised retail is yet to penetrate rural corners.

The pandemic is offering a boost to Reliance because many local stores can’t offer aggressive discounts due to financial difficulties, said Laiji Varghese, who runs a provision store in Nerul, a town in the outskirts of Mumbai, and has a partnership with Reliance to deliver orders.

“Reliance Retail is a big bulk player with deep pockets,” she said. “They have the financial muscle to offer such discounts compared to others.”

Samsung Phones

For Diwali, JioMart has a “Bestival Sale” on and has been touting the “season’s biggest grocery sale” with large discounts and cashback running through Nov 8. Flipkart and Amazon are also showcasing a slew of discounts, putting the three companies neck to neck.

Yet on some key items, Ambani’s sites are offering bigger price cuts. A Samsung S20, this year’s flagship model from the world’s biggest smartphone maker, for instance, was going for 43,999 rupees at the start of this week on Reliance Digital. The same phone on Amazon’s India website was available for 47,990 rupees and on Flipkart for 69,999 rupees.

Regardless of who draws more customers and offers the biggest price cuts this holiday season, a pitted, protracted battle for India’s online shoppers is likely to play out in the coming years.

Complex Restrictions

Despite the complex pricing restrictions that Walmart and Amazon face in India, they have been able to showcase discounts offered via manufacturers and brands. In some cases, they are able to restructure their relationships with sellers so they can legally offer price cuts, and have allied with banks and credit card companies, which are allowed to offer deals that give shoppers price benefits on websites.

Yet, in the long term, pricing rules favoring local companies would allow Ambani’s JioMart and other websites to be more nimble in tweaking costs since they are bound by fewer restrictions.

JioMart and Reliance Retail account for around $12 billion of India’s retail market combining brick and mortar and digital sales, according to Ankur Bisen, senior vice president and head of Technopak’s retail consulting division. Meanwhile, Amazon and Flipkart, leveraging their pure online plays, can claim about $14 billion each, he said.

Although Amazon and Walmart are far ahead in online retail, a winner will need to straddle both domains, physical and virtual, to cater to India’s diverse and heavily rural geography.

Yet the restrictions on foreign companies owning grocery stores, puts them on a backfoot.

That’s in keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of nurturing home-grown champions. Across the border, China’s protection of domestic companies has created technology behemoths like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Ambani has built his businesses with a decades-long understanding of India’s bargain-hungry consumers. Over the years, he’s also aligned Reliance’s own ambitions with government goals across different administrations. In 2016, when he launched Reliance Jio, the telecom business, he promoted it as part of Modi’s Digital India initiative.

India’s Alibaba

“Narendra Modi has clearly decided that he wants to produce an Indian equivalent of Alibaba or Tencent, and he knows Reliance is the only plausible candidate,” said James Crabtree, an associate professor of practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, author of The Billionaire Raj, which chronicles India’s economic opening and has Ambani’s much-storied Mumbai home on its cover.

To cement his position as the nation’s No. 1 retailer, Ambani bought the retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units of Future Group for $3.4 billion in August. Amazon, which owns a tiny stake in one of the unlisted firms under the Future Group, has sought to block the sale in an arbitration court. Reliance, meanwhile, said it intends to complete the transaction without any delay. “It’s a head-on competition in online retail,” said Devangshu Dutta, CEO of retail consultancy Third Eyesight. “An extremely well capitalised, very aggressive player is the new challenger.”

After e-grocery, Tatas eye 1MG stake for e-pharma biz

Source: ETRetail.com, Nov 06, 2020

Bengaluru: Tata Group is now eyeing the online pharmacy space and is in discussions to buy a large stake in Gurgaon-based 1MG, said three sources familiar with the matter. The development comes as 1MG is also in talks to raise $100 million in funding from a private equity consortium led by Gaja Capital, which was first reported by TOI in September. Both the investment talks are happening in parallel.

The development comes even as the Tatas are also in advanced discussions to buy close to 50% in e-grocer Bigbasket. Tata’s investment in 1MG is still not finalised, but this indicates the growing interest of large strategic players in this segment. Reliance’s retail arm picked up a 60% stake in Netmeds, while Amazon India and Flipkart have also recently entered the space. PharmEasy too is merging with smaller rival Medlife. This combined entity is in talks to raise new capital to battle the bigger conglomerates.

“There is definitely a lot of interest in 1MG and Tatas have held talks with them as part of the broader e-commerce push. At the same time, Gaja continues to engage with 1MG over its planned $100-million fund-raise,” a person aware of the matter said. Sources added, with the Tatas coming into the picture, the overall round may surpass $100 million in size. “They (1MG) were working out the contours as to which investors they want to go ahead with, when Tatas expressed interest,” another person aware of the discussion added. When contacted, 1MG co-founder and CEO Prashant Tandon, a spokesperson of Gaja Capital and Tata Group declined to comment on the matter. If the deal fructifies with Tatas, then 1MG — so far the only remaining large independent player — would also become part of a bigger group. 1MG was valued $200-225 million after closing its last round in 2019.

For 1MG, unlike its rivals, its business is split almost equally between medicine delivery and services like lab tests and online doctor consultation. For 1MG’s rivals, most of their revenue comes from medicine delivery, while they are expanding into verticals like online doctor consultations and lab tests. 1MG’s existing investors include Sequoia Capital and World Bank investment arm IFC.

E-pharmacy has already benefited from the pandemic with industry reports saying 6 million new households have tried e-pharmacy since the virus outbreak, taking the total to 9 million. A potential entry of Tatas along with existing names like Reliance and Amazon indicates a digital healthcare play at a higher scale in India. A high-order frequency, the average ticket size of purchases along with a bigger healthcare play is what these large strategic players are focusing on.

Ecomm festive sales hit $3.5 billion

Source: ETRetail.com, Oct 21, 2020

India’s biggest e-commerce players by market share, Amazon and Flipkart, have together raked in $3.5 billion (about Rs 26,000 crore) during the first four days of their flagship festive season sales events, multiple brands and industry analysts told ET, with both the online marketplaces on track to meet expectations for the entire seven-day period.

Industry consultants Forrester Research and RedSeer Consulting are pegging cumulative sales by the two e-tailers from October 15 to October 22 at about $4.7 billion on average.

“The first few opening days of festive sales are skewed towards large value purchases and new launches,” Manish Tiwary, vice president of Amazon India, told ET.

Tiwary said this year more than 1,100 new product launches took place on Amazon, with consumer-facing brands such as Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Asus, Lenovo, HP, LG, Whirlpool and Bajaj Appliances witnessing their biggest two-day sales.

A spokesperson for Walmart-owned Flipkart said more than half of all electronics goods purchased by consumers on its platform were in the work-from-home segment, with large-screen televisions, laptops, IT accessories and peripherals witnessing an increase of over 1.4x from last year’s levels.

During the six-day event in October 2019, sales at Amazon and Flipkart touched $2.7 billion (about Rs 20,000 crore), a 30% increase from $2.1 billion in 2018, according to RedSeer’s estimates. Forrester Research, on the other hand, pegged the one-week numbers at about $3.6 billion last year.

These estimates usually vary as Amazon and Flipkart do not officially give a break-down of their sales numbers for the limited timeframe.

According to ecommerce companies, top brands and independent analysts, the overall e-commerce industry, too, has grown by 25-30% during the four-day period. The sector is on track to increase sales by 30-36% during the one-week period compared to last year, the early numbers indicate.

The sales surge in the first four days has come despite lower average discounts by brands this year.

The maximum discounts were offered in categories that had seen inventories pile up — such as high-end smartphones, fashion, and furniture. For categories like televisions and home appliances, the discounts have, however, been much lower due to stock shortages.

Overall, e-commerce sales over the extended 30-day period are expected to grow to $6.5-$7 billion (Rs 48,000 crore to Rs 51,800 crore), according to separate estimates by RedSeer and Forrester Research, which said the numbers would be boosted by new online shoppers. About 75% of festive season sales are recorded in just one week between October 15 and October 21, according to Forrester.

Industry executives said top brands, including Samsung, Apple, LG and Xiaomi, had seen sales increase by 80-100% across smartphones and consumer durables through e-commerce channels in the four days compared to the same period last year.

Samsung, Apple and Xiaomi did not officially respond to ET’s emails seeking comment.

The crucial festive season sale, which begins in October and runs up to Diwali, accounts for 35-40% of annual revenue for most consumer facing companies.

LG saw a 100% growth in business, led by addition of first-time buyers from tier 2 and 3 towns, and increased demand for premium products across categories, said Deepak Taneja, its India head of online business.

Business has doubled during the four-day period, said Avneet Singh Marwah, CEO of SPPL, the maker of online-focused TV brands like Kodak and Thomson.

Marwah added that discounts have been lower this year due to limited stocks a 90-100% increase in TV panel prices globally, which pushed up prices.

Smartphones, the largest category online, witnessed 2.5X business growth at Amazon during the 4-day sale period this year compared to last year, said Tiwary.

Average spending on smartphones has gone up during the sale period, with the market skewed towards e-commerce purchases, said Tarun Pathak, associate director at smartphone industry researcher Counterpoint.

On Snapdeal, the home products category selling kitchen appliances, linen, home décor and LED lights grew 30% over last year, the value-focused e-commerce platform said, overtaking fashion, traditionally the top-performer during the sales period.

Long-tail categories, including home and home furnishings, have improved as people spend more time at home, it said.

“Big ticket, one-time purchases are doing well. A lot of people have also moved back to their hometowns and are buying more products across several categories for their family,” said Satish Meena, senior analyst at Forrester Research, which has forecast $4.7 billion in sales by the end of the first week.

The pick-up in sales should not, however, be viewed as green shoots in the recovery of consumer spending, Meena and other industry analysts cautioned.

“… this spending is coming at the cost of leisure, eating out, and travel expenses being negligible over the last six months… It remains to be seen if it sustains,” he said.

How long this sales buoyancy will continue is anyone’s guess, although customer sentiment seems a little more positive than expected in the first four days, said Arvind Singhal, chairman of retail advisory firm Technopak.

“If income reduction continues, discretionary spending will go down. This should not be seen as green shoots that give a fall sense of hope,” he said.

On the other hand, brands in the smartphone space, like Huawei, Honor and Asus, and TV makers like BPL and Vu – which used to offer big discounts during the festive season to push up sales volumes — are missing in action this year, industry executives said, alluding to supply chain issues or import restrictions from countries like China.

Spokespersons for Huawei and Honor said the brands have rolled out offers with equal fervour this year as they did during last year’s festive sales period. Industry executives, however, pointed out that stocks this year have been much below last year’s levels.

Reverse-migration pushes e-commerce festive sales to Tier 2, 3 cities

Source: LiveMint.com, Oct 18, 2020

Bengaluru: India’s top two e-tailers witnessed a surge of new shoppers from smaller cities in the first two days of festive sales, on the back of discounts, reverse migration of metro customers and credit products.

Walmart-backed Flipkart and Amazon India have both seen sales more than double in the first 48 hours compared to the 2019 festive sale edition.

Flipkart’s Big Billion Days (BBD) sale started on 16 October, while Amazon’s Great Indian Festive (GIF) Sale started for Prime members on the same day and was opened for all the next day.

For Amazon, 91% of its new customer base came from Tier 2 cities and beyond while Flipkart witnessed almost 65% of its new customer base from smaller towns and cities.

Amazon claimed this was its best first 48-hours festive sale ever in India, with over 1.1 lakh sellers on its platform already receiving orders.

Smartphones, consumer electronics and large appliances continued to be the biggest selling categories in terms of gross merchandise value (GMV) for Amazon, while fashion and consumables were big in volumes.

“The first 48 hours have surpassed the expectations we set this year and engagement on our platform is spiking. With orders coming from over 98.4% of pin-codes in just 48 hours, it will definitely make this year’s sale our biggest in the history of Amazon.in,” Manish Tiwary, vice-president, Amazon India, said in an interview.

Categories such as tablets are witnessing a 300% increase in sales, premium smartphone launches have gained traction even in smaller cities, compared to previous GIF sales, Tiwary added.

Rival Flipkart witnessed a 40% jump in smartphone sales and 50% increase in people availing product exchanges over 2019 BBD. Large screen televisions, laptops, IT accessories witnessed an increase of 1.4x from last year.’

Flipkart said more than 3 lakh sellers are participating in the ongoing sale, of which 60% are from Tier 2 cities and beyond. The e-commerce major has expanded its seller base reach by 20% to cater to more than 3000 pin codes this year. It has also seen 36 million new app downloads in the run-up to the festive sale​.

In just two days of BBD, sellers on Flipkart witnessed sales growth that they saw in the first six days of its 2019 sale.

“Many metro customers have shifted to Tier 2 hometowns bringing their online shopping habit with them. As people who lived in rental housing in metros give up houses and live in their hometowns, their disposable income has gone up due to less spending. Much of this is being funnelled to online shopping. We see attractive offers especially on the various affordability constructs, which is driving further acceleration,” said Mrigank Gutgutia, director, e-commerce, Redseer.

Amazon, through partners, has already disbursed nearly ₹600 crore of credit to its customers in the first 48 hours of its sale while Flipkart saw a 65% increase in customers availing EMIs to buy mobiles, laptops and white goods. More than 25% of appliances and electronics are being purchased on EMIs during the festive sale, Flipkart said.

Flipkart-owned Myntra in its ongoing festive sale has seen 100% growth in purchases over last year, with more than 2 million customers having shopped so far, during the two days of sale period. The fashion marketplace has seen 50% of demand coming from Tier 2 and 3 towns.

Tier 2 and 3 users are engaging in Hindi and other South Indian languages like Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, with 70% of EMI requests coming from this region for home appliances like AC and refrigerators, Amazon’s Tiwary added. Over 9 million visitors used the vernacular interface to avail the “new essentials” which included mobiles, apparel and electronics during this sale, Flipkart said.

Online brands see higher growth on own channels, apps over Flipkart, Amazon

Source: ETRetail.com, Oct 14, 2020

BENGALURU: Brands that sell directly to consumers are seeing higher growth in sales via their own websites and apps, compared to when they sell through leading e-commerce marketplaces such as Flipkart and Amazon, according to third party data shared with ET.’

The shift in consumer buying patterns, across large trusted brands, comes at a time when marketing spends touched an all-time low in the second quarter of the year, nudging businesses to invest more resources in their own platforms.

For relatively newer brands and internet sellers, however, e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Flipkart, Nykaa and BigBasket continue to be the preferred route for growth.

The overall e-commerce industry, dominated by Flipkart and Amazon, saw sales grow 31% during the calendar year third quarter ended September 30. However, direct-to-consumer brands reported a 78% growth in sales through their own websites, according to a new report by e-commerce Software as a Service platform Unicommerce.

Even so, all brands continued to eye Amazon and Flipkart to acquire new-to-online consumers, especially from outside the large metros.

The surge in shoppers going directly to brand websites indicates that consumers are not content with shopping online from a single source, experts said, and is pushing more brands to build their own D2C channels.’

According to the report, there has been a 51% surge in the number of brands building their own websites in the third quarter.

“Marketplaces offer brilliant consistency and price discovery for a shopper, but a few propositions require a personalized approach,” said Revant Bhate, CEO of Mosaic Wellness, which runs Man Matters, a D2C digital health clinic for men.

“Health & Wellness, for example, needs an understanding of nuanced consumer needs, doing a doctor consultation and personalized product recommendations which may not be conducive to the standard e-commerce experience,” Bhate added.

Industry watchers and company executives told ET that marketplaces, given their size, reach and muscle, are typically the first destinations for new-to-online shoppers. However, as these consumers progress in their digital journeys and discover brands that they like, they tend to start shopping directly.

“Direct channels help in better content marketing, upselling, as well as a more profitable channel long term,” said the founder of a top personal care brand. “To be clear, getting sustained visibility on marketplaces is an equally expensive proposition,” he added.

E-commerce logistics provider Shiprocket said it had seen D2C brands shipping 33% more orders in September compared to July.

“The growth was strongest for the large brands in September on the back of sales and promotions. Initial indications for October are showing that this will be a strong month even for the smaller D2C brands,” said Saahil Goel, cofounder and CEO of Shiprocket.

Overall industry growth is robust, but there is still some way to go for consumer spending to normalise.’

According to Unicommerce, while e-commerce order volumes grew by 31% in the third quarter, the gross merchandise value (GMV), or gross sales, for the sector grew by just 24%. This was due to a 5% drop in average order values.

This is because consumers opted for more value-conscious buying and also due to a change in the category of products people were shopping for online, with personal care, healthcare and pharma making up a bigger chunk of online spending, which tend to have lower ticket sizes.

“The pandemic has changed the dynamics of the retail ecosystem substantially. Ecommerce is no longer the supporting vertical and has now taken a front seat. With the increasing focus of companies on investing in online channels and rising interest in adopting technology solutions to improve business operations, we firmly believe this growth momentum will continue for the next few quarters,” said Kapil Makhija, CEO of Unicommerce.