You couldn’t have missed the ads. While Flipkart’s star-studded campaign featured everyone from Amitabh Bachchan to Virat Kohli, Amazon reminded customers that their budgets won’t stand in the way of buying what they want to buy this festive season. The two e-commerce companies are all set to host their festive sales, starting 29 September.
With ads screaming discount, it’s hard to stop yourself from shopping, but it’s important to be smart about it if you don’t want to indulge in impulse shopping. Sweta Pachlangiya, 33, a Bengaluru-based pharmaceuticals professional, has cracked the smart way to shop during festive sales. She starts by making a list of things she wants and then, using price tracker apps and browser extensions, she narrows down on purchases that actually bring her some discount. Price tracker apps help keep a tab on the prices of the products you shortlist on a particular website. You might need different apps for different websites. “Before I buy an item, I check the price trend during the sale on that tracker. There have been times when I have found a steal deal, but in most cases, the prices during sale are similar or sometimes higher than the ‘non-sale’ period," she said.
For Sweta, it is as much about quality as it is about price, so she is very careful about what she buys on sale. From analysing the actual discount to applying softer filters like checking the quality of the product, you need to ensure that you do your due diligence before you buy. We tell you some of the things you could look out for.
What to expect
According to Swati Bhargava, co-founder, CashKaro.com, a cash-back site, there will be many new deals and product launches during the sale period on popular sites such as Amazon, Flipkart and Myntra. “This will include flagship products across categories such as mobiles, big appliances and deep discounts on own in-house fashion and technology brands," said Bhargava. CashKaro is expecting a 250% increase in transactions on their platform during the festive season, with mobile phones, fashion items and home and kitchen goods witnessing the highest number of sales.
In the case of Amazon, the sale will open at 12 pm on 28 September for Amazon Prime members, and go live for everyone else at midnight on 29 September. It has already started featuring cash-back offers that buyers can collect now and use during the sale. It will also offer a 10% discount to State Bank of India debit and credit card holders. Flipkart is also showcasing a range of deals on electronics and household appliances. It is offering 75% discount on electronics such as television and 10% discount for Axis Bank and ICICI Bank card holders.
What to watch out for
Keep in mind that discounts on newly launched goods are hard to come by, and the festive season is no exception. Discounts are usually available on older inventory, which means you may not find a deal on the latest gadget you have been eying. For instance, Flipkart’s offer listing mentions that the Apple iPhone series will be available on discount during the sale, but this doesn’t include the newly launched iPhone 11 series.
If you are not going for branded products, remember that if the price is too good to be true, then it probably is, and what is delivered to you may be of poor quality. Kolkata-based student Rajashree Basak, 21, had an unpleasant experience with buying accessories during a sale. “I bought a ‘designer’ handbag and wallet set which was priced at ₹2,500, but being sold for only ₹499. It looked good in the photos, but what I received looked like an inexpensive fake from a flea market," she said.
You also need to make sure that you are getting real discounts. “When retailers offer a sale, they also show the original price and the percentage of savings. But in reality the item could be offered at a highly discounted price throughout the year. Consumers have no reference point, so they might feel like they are getting a great deal on an expensive item, making them more likely to buy it," said Brishti Guha, associate professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Then there are smaller yet important things to keep in mind like the fact that some sale offers don’t have a cash-on-delivery option. The returns and exchanges policies of the platform or seller might also be different for items on sale. So read the terms and conditions carefully before you click “buy".
Make the most of it
There’s no doubt that you can get some good deals during the sale season, but you need to be smart about it. For instance, Mumbai-based chartered accountant Hussain Bharuchwala, 29, got a great bargain on a pair of earphones during the festive sale. “I bought a pair of earphones that had a listing price of ₹4,999, but after discounts and cash-backs, I effectively paid only ₹799 for them," he said. If you have a shopping list ready, checking out the festive discounts to see if you can get a good bargain on something may not be a bad idea.
According to Gopal Gidwani, personal finance blogger, bachatkhata.com, the festive season is a good time to buy that gadget or consumer durable that you always wanted. “Banks (with their debit and credit cards) and online sellers will shower you with offers. You can make the most of the festive offers by combining several of them together," said Gidwani.
However don’t make the mistake of making a shopping list just to dive into these discounts.
Be mindful of spending
Besides the discounts, interest-free EMIs and easily available credit offered by a burgeoning number of online lending platforms make festive season shopping too hard to resist. But this can be a slippery slope.
“While festive offers are a good time to buy things that you need, you should not indulge in unnecessary shopping just to avail the offers. Control the urge to go on a spending spree that exhausts your credit card limit. Remember that if you fail to pay the credit card bill, the huge interest that you accrue will make the festive offer that you availed of totally pointless," said Gidwani.
It’s easy to get caught up in the sale frenzy, so it’s also important to ask yourself if you really need what you are buying. “The most important thing to consider is: will you be using the stuff you buy even once during the year before the next bumper sale? Do the introspection before deciding to buy," said Shilpi Johri, certified financial planner and founder of Arthashastra Consulting.
Festive sales have all the right elements in place to get you excited. There are new product launches, flash sales, low-cost staggered payment options, et al. But don’t let the temptation of deep discounts disrupt your budget. Decide in advance what you want to buy and how much you are willing to spend, and look around for offers and products till you are happy with the deal.