A round-up of important news and events
All stakeholders miffed with ‘Big Billion Day’ sale
The leader in India’s e-commerce space, Flipkart, launched their much touted ‘Big Billion Day’ sale on October 6, 2014, at 8 AM, labelling it ‘the sale to end all sales.’ However, there were major glitches and customers, vendors and brands alike were left fuming. It turned the public mood against Flipkart and the e-tailer had to actually send out apology mails to customers. Offline retailers and brands accused online platforms of spoiling the sale opportunities envisaged by them around the festive season. While Future Group has said that the big bang sale strategy being adopted by online platforms is anti-competitive for selling products below the cost price, merchants selling wares on these marketplace models have said that the e-commerce platforms are forcing them to sell products at much lower prices than their actual buying price, which is adversely affecting their profit margins. The Online Vendors Association of India now plans to initiate a measure to combat their woes by creating a forum for online vendors and develop a clear online vendor policy to regulate pricing and avoid such price disparity since online stores; because of their unfair business practices are killing the regular business of a vendor.
Relief for Flipkart after ‘Big Billion Day’ sale fiasco
Union Commerce and Industries Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said there was no inquiry into complaints of predatory prices of goods and unfair trade practices against e-commerce giant Flipkart during its recent ‘Big Billion Day’ sale. “I would like to state that no inquiry has been planned or proposed on the e-retailer on the concerns raised by customers on the big billion day sale,” she told reporters after a visit to the BJP office in Bengaluru. Sitharaman on October 8 in New Delhi had said that the Centre would look into the complaints of predatory prices on goods sold by Flipkart after allegations of unfair trade practices were levelled against it during the discount sale on October 6. “We have received many inputs. Lot of concerns have been expressed. We will look into it,” she had said. She said her earlier remarks were misinterpreted. “My earlier three sentence remarks were interpreted in three million ways on the Flipkart issue,” she said.
Counter strategies being adopted by malls to beat the competition
Shopping malls in the country are going through a transformation to make themselves more of a ‘recreation’ destination, adding more restaurants, spas, salons and even clinics, at least partially influenced by the recent boom in online shopping. Bengaluru-based real estate developer Prestige Group, for example, plans to bring food offerings to almost every floor of its upcoming shopping malls rather than restricting food outlets mostly to the top floor. “Earlier people used to come for shopping and they would eat. Now, we think they will come for food and will shop as well,” said Suresh Singaravelu, Executive Director for Retail at Prestige. With online retailers cornering a chunk of the expected growth in India’s overall modern retailing, industry insiders say a lot of mall owners are nervous. “We are all worried. We are trying to find out how we can fight the online surge and the issue of customers moving out,” said a Mumbai mall developer. To beat the online wave, malls are coming up with new offerings to attract consumers. “Very few people come to malls only for shopping. They come to us for the whole experience. That is why we have always believed in making the whole experience attractive,” said Arjun Sharma, Director at Select Citywalk.