Bengaluru: Flipkart and Amazon, India’s biggest online retailers, posted a robust performance during festive season sales last week, underscoring the revival of e-commerce in the country. Amazon India registered its best-ever performance in festive sales, which is usually dominated by Flipkart’s flagship event, The Big Billion Days sale.

Amazon closed the gap with Flipkart during this year’s Great Indian Festival, driven by strong sales of smartphones, said two people familiar with the development.

While Flipkart continued its lead over Amazon in terms of gross merchandise value (GMV), or the overall sale price of goods sold on a site, Amazon exceeded its internal sales targets, said the people cited above, requesting anonymity.

Amazon had one more day of sales compared with Flipkart.

Overall, online retail surged more than 60% to $2.3 billion during the five-day event, up from $1.4 billion a year earlier, according to market research firm RedSeer Consulting.

Amazon India head Amit Agarwal did not disclose exact sales numbers, but said the Great Indian Festival had exceeded targets. “This event hasn’t just surpassed our expectations in terms of scale and size, but also it has really pushed the penetration in the broad base of India. Across all our categories, we’ve exceeded our most aggressive plans a day ahead of our closure, he said. “There are two specific areas, where we pay particular attention to, which is: new customers and the reach of those customers, and Prime member sign-ups."

Agarwal said 80% of Amazon’s new customers “came from really small towns and our Prime member sign-ups surged nearly three times".

“In terms of key call-outs in terms of categories, not surprisingly, smartphones are the largest GMS (gross merchandise sales) category for Amazon... The total premium phones sold on our platform during the sale (were more than what is sold in) a typical month of all online sales in India," he added.

A spokesperson for Flipkart said the company “smashed all existing records to set new benchmarks for the entire Indian retail industry".

“Flipkart has recorded over 70% share of entire Indian e-commerce market in the five-day TBBD ’18 sale, matching scale with global marquee retail events," the spokesperson said in an email. “Massive market share driven by clear leadership in deep penetrated and high ASP categories. GMV grew 80% from last year whereas units grew by close to 2X YoY."

The online festive season sale in India is inspired by the Singles Day event in China and Cyber Monday in the US. It started with Flipkart introducing the Big Billion Days sale in October 2014. Last week’s performance shows that the battle between Walmart-owned Flipkart and Amazon could be even more fierce and close compared to previous years.

“The industry witnessed higher growth this time compared to last year," said Ujjwal Chaudhry, engagement manager at RedSeer. “This was driven by multiple drivers, key being a larger shopper base from tier 2+ cities. Affordability and loyalty schemes introduced by e-tailing players also played a huge role in converting the visitors into shoppers."

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