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BENGALURU : The coming online festive sales season is turning into an unusual battle between India’s top two e-commerce companies to reach discount shoppers first.

Amazon India on Sunday advanced its flagship Great Indian Festival sale to 3 October, the same as rival Flipkart, which on Saturday advanced its own Big Billion Days sale from 7 October to 3 October. The Flipkart move itself was prompted by Amazon setting its sale to begin from 4 October, three days ahead of Flipkart’s initial date of 7 October.

The Amazon sale will see over 850,000 sellers participate and 1,000 product launches across categories. Walmart-owned Flipkart on Saturday promptly moved its launch date to match Amazon.

Flipkart will be running its Big Billion Days sale for eight days, instead of six, with the event ending on 10 October. Amazon hasn’t specified the closing date for the sale event.

In 2020, Flipkart launched its festive season sale on 16 October, while Amazon India started its sale on 17 October.

To be sure, the first week of the festive season sale has a lot riding on it.

RedSeer Consulting estimates e-commerce firms will clock sales worth $4.8 billion in the first week of festive sales, a 30% increase from 2020. E-commerce firms clocked almost $3.7 billion in GMV in the first week of festive sales last year.

RedSeer expects overall sales to rise 23% to $9 billion this year from the $7.4 billion in total gross merchandise value (GMV) of goods sold on e-commerce platforms during the festive period in 2020. The projected gains are, however, slower than the record 48% growth witnessed last year, when offline establishments saw sales plummet because of fear of covid and pandemic-related restrictions.

“Our top priority remains customer trust and the interest of our sellers, especially the lakhs of small sellers and the tens of thousands of local shop owners across India. We continue to innovate for our partners, small businesses and customers, as they gear up for the upcoming festive season. The Amazon Great Indian Festival will now start from 3 October, and as always, Prime members will have early access," said an Amazon spokesperson on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Flipkart group chief executive officer Kalyan Krishnamurthy told employees on Saturday in an internal memo about the change in the launch date of the Big Billion Days sale.

“Based on consumer behaviour, we have been observing, we know today they are focused on value and quality, and we are determined to deliver on this front. The Big Billion Days is our commitment to meet these requirements safely and efficiently. There are lakhs of sellers who have joined us on this journey this year, and for many of them, the Big Billion Days is critical as they continue to strive to revitalize their businesses that have been adversely affected by this unprecedented pandemic," Krishnamurthy said in the memo to employees.

Flipkart is expected to have 420,000 sellers on its platform by December, while Amazon has said the event will see over 850,000 sellers participate.

“Let’s also not forget the scale of employment that this event drives through an extensive supply chain that will help make the festivities a reality for numerous households. To enable this, we are going to make some changes to our plans. We are now kick-starting this event on 3 October and making it an eight-day event, ending on 10 October," added Krishnamurthy.

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