E-commerce firms generated gross sales of $2.2 billion (Rs13,500 crore) in October, beating expectations in a crucial month when typically they make the bulk of their annual sales, according to a report by consulting firm RedSeer.
It was feared that Diwali sales would not meet expectations, after the government, with its new foreign investment regulations, in March prohibited online marketplaces from influencing prices on their platforms, thereby disallowing discounts. E-commerce firms, however, found ways to get around this and managed to offer some discounts. Their festive sales beat expectations—RedSeer had forecast gross sales between $1.5 and 1.8 billion.
About half of the sales were driven by the mobile and tablet categories, the report said, with large appliances accounting for 10%. The consumer goods and home categories, in which Flipkart and Amazon India have been investing, also showed “strong growth", according to the report.
“October has been the single biggest month for the Indian e-tailing sector ever, with most large e-tailers also recording their own highest ever monthly GMVs (gross merchandise values). However, more than the GMV growth, the crucial development for the industry was that the growth came on the back of much lower marketing spends vs last year, and the category mix also showed signs of moving away from mobiles only dependency, both of which are very positive signs for the future of the industry," Red Seer consulting chief executive Anil Kumar said in a statement.
Flipkart had its annual Big Billion Day sale between 2 and 6 October. During this time, Flipkart claimed it outsold its biggest competitor, Amazon (which generated sales of more than Rs5,000 crore according to a 2 November Mint report), and said it generated six times the sales it did in October 2014, when it held its first such sale. This was a critical period for Flipkart to show critics that it could withstand competition from deep-pocketed Amazon.
Amazon hosted the Great Indian Festival from 1 to 5 October, where its loyalty programme, Amazon Prime was the top seller. It also said it witnessed record numbers during the month, with sales jumping 2.7 times from last year.
Snapdeal, run by Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd, the third biggest e-commerce company in India, also saw some momentum during its Unbox Diwali sale which it held from 2 to 6 October. Within four days of the sale, the company overshot its internal targets by generating gross sales of Rs500-600 crore according to a 5 October Mint report.