[Written by: Sidhant Sourav]
“16 Gb pen drive at Re.1”—Read the newspaper on October 8, 2014!!! An awesome full page advertisement that could lure any boring soul to go shopping in the festive season is what one found in the newspaper.
Amidst lot of hype, fanfare and not to forget the full page advertisements on leading newspapers across India, Flipkart introduced “The Big Billion Day” sale. The e-commerce giant offered products in almost every category at throwaway prices like – a pen drive at Re.1 or a 2 TB portable hard drive at Rs. 600, both of which were found nowhere online. Disappointment!! Janta maaf nai karegi was the thought that must have come across many of our minds!!!“Till date, India has seen shoppers across the country turn out in millions during festivals like Akshaya Tritiya and Dhanteras. With the 'Big Billion Day', Flipkart is set to replicate this concept of a single day of shopping on a massive scale online,” said the company. “Flipkart will be offering discounts, deals, and surprises across 70 categories including large appliances, books, toys, mobiles, laptops, cameras, clothes, shoes, bags and watches. It also vows to deliver products on time with its 10,000 field staff.”
Now what they forgot to say was that all this would last for less than 2 hours and that too early in the morning.
The mega sale which began at around 8 am promised a lot but within minutes or perhaps, seconds, many items changed their avatar to “Out Of Stock”, perhaps the three words which enthusiastic shopaholics got frustrated reading, since that was the case for the rest of the day. Customers who logged in after 10 am were desperately trying to figure out what exactly Flipkart was offering on its Big Billion Day as most products were sold out. Around noon, Flipkart’s servers gave away to the huge demand and services were disrupted for a short while.
Flipkart’s #BigBillionDay hash tag on Twitter was trending in the morning but soon several other hash tags, criticizing the sale, like #Flopkart, #Failkart, #Fraudkart, etc started to join the party, as disappointed buyers took to twitter to express their dissappointment.
The mass consumer frenzy created by India's leading online retailer has also triggered multi-layered debates within and outside the retail industry. Despite the heavy customer dissatisfaction, the e-tailer giant did make huge profit of around $100 million in just 10 hours, an achievement in itself. But the massive customer dissatisfaction did hamper the repo of the company and as a result of which apology e-mails were sent to millions of customers. The apology issued by the founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal to their customers was perhaps one of the most widely read documents on social media in the week.
Nonetheless, an over-ambitious attempt did reap rewards, but was met with stark criticism as it failed to live up to the promise it made. So in a way, a billion people were befooled!!