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Bengaluru: The upcoming festive season sale is turning into an unusual battle between India’s top two e-commerce companies— Flipkart and Amazon India — with both players seeking to take the lead in a race to reach online shoppers first.

Amazon India on Sunday advanced its flagship ‘Great Indian Festival’ sale to 3 October, a day after rival Flipkart altered the launch of its annual ‘Big Billion Days’ sale from 7 October to 3 October.

On Friday, Amazon said it will start its festive season sale from 4 October. The firm expects over 850,000 sellers to participate in the upcoming festive sale and has 1,000 new product launches lined up 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.

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

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

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

RedSeer Consulting expects overall sales to rise 23% to $9 billion this year from the $7.4 billion in total 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 due to covid-related fears and restrictions.

“Our top priority remains customer trust and the interest of our sellers, especially the 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, 2021 and as always, Prime members will have early access," said an Amazon spokesperson on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Fipkart 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 behaviours (that) 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 (thousands) 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 revitalise their businesses that have been adversely affected by this unprecedented pandemic," Krishnamurthy said in the memo.

Flipkart is expected to have 420,000 sellers on its platform by December 2021.

“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 for the Big Billion Days 2021. We are now kick-starting this event on October 3 and making it an eight-day event ending on October 10," added Krishnamurthy.

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