Bengaluru: Ahead of the all-important Diwali sales season, India’s largest online retailer Flipkart is forging exclusive partnerships with key brands such as Blaupunkt and Xiaomi, expecting sales of large appliances to more than double during the coming Big Billion Day (BBD) sale and keep rival Amazon India at bay.
Flipkart’s head of large appliances, Sandeep Karwa, told Mint that Flipkart expects a 2.5 times jump in sales of large appliances such as TV sets and refrigerators in October, compared with an average non-sale month.
Flipkart is also aggressively pushing TV sets from brands such as Xiaomi, which has emerged as the fastest growing television brand on Flipkart. In recent weeks, Flipkart has also struck partnership deals with Blaupunkt, which launched on Flipkart this week.
The Big Billion Day sale, which is Flipkart’s annual shopping festival, is typically held in October. Amazon also holds a massive sale during Diwali in November, called the Great Indian Festival.
“Events like Singles Day (in China) and Black Friday (US) give opportunities to change the leaderboard (for big brands). We want to ensure that happens during Big Billion Day... So, TVs and other large appliances during Flipkart’s BBD are poised to go to a level where we will effectively go and change the leaderboard in the industry. For example, if X, Y and Z brands are the top three, and let’s say we are working with a brand which is at No. 8, what we do during BBD has the potential to take that brand among the top three by next year," said Karwa, a senior director at Flipkart.
“What we do on Big Billion Days can potentially have an impact on 2019’s leaderboard," said Karwa. “We’ve already done that in mobiles. Flipkart’s BBD had a lot to do with where Xiaomi’s market share is today."
The Diwali season sale is easily the most important period of the year for top retailers such as Amazon and Flipkart. Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy has already set aggressive targets and pushed executives to meet them—and spare no expense—to win the festive battle against Amazon.
“Every brand, whether it’s Xiaomi and Mar-Q, is looking to do new, different things ahead of BBD…There will be jaw-dropping offers for each of these brands. What we want to make sure of is that the industry should shake up," he added.
Flipkart is the market leader in large appliances though Amazon has also expanded aggressively in the past 18 months and grown rapidly. Last year, Amazon set aside nearly a dozen warehouses for large appliances.
Flipkart has identified high-value items such as mobile phones, large appliances and furniture as its most important products, while it is trying to lower the cost of delivering low-value products.
For the longest time, Flipkart had an important advantage over Amazon in large appliances: its ownership of Jeeves Consumer Services Pvt. Ltd, an after-sales services provider. Flipkart acquired a majority stake in Jeeves for an undisclosed amount in late 2014. However, over the past 12-18 months, Amazon has also significantly boosted its capabilities in after-sales services.
Flipkart is also hoping to boost sales of large appliances through its private labels such as MarQ. Over the past six months, Flipkart has launched a full range of products under MarQ, such as microwaves and refrigerators, and is also planning to launch large-screen smart TVs just before BBD.
“We want to make sure that MarQ emerges as a full-fledged consumer durables brand -- pretty much, India’s youngest consumer durables brand. And for that, we want to play across all categories, whether its TVs, fridges or washing machines," said Adarsh Menon, head of private labels at Flipkart.