Shopping for the Durga Puja festival—which begins early October—is an elaborate affair for Sohini Bhattacharya, who lives in central Kolkata. For Bhattacharya, 45, who runs a beauty salon in the city, buying gifts for her extended family for the festival is a yearly ritual.

Typically she prefers shopping for clothes in-person at her usual local apparel and saree stores, but this year—due to the pandemic—she decided to shop mostly online. “I desperately wanted to avoid the rush and crowd at the stores and traffic on the road which is back to normal,” says Bhattacharya, who plans to make the most of the upcoming festive sales across the leading e-commerce platforms. “It is hard to resist discounts and offers online. I always look for the best deals irrespective of the website,” she adds.

Bhattacharya is not alone in her online shopping frenzy. With discounts and attractive deals across categories geared towards online customers, who are typically vendor-agnostic, e-commerce players such as Amazon, Walmart-owned Flipkart and Myntra and others are hoping for robust festive business this year. According to a recent report by RedSeer Consulting e-commerce, companies are projected to clock in approximately $9 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) during the festive season sales this year.

Online companies in India typically don’t share their actual revenues. Instead, they use GMV, which is the value of all goods sold on the platform, barring discounts and returns.

“Online customer base has been rising even prior to festive [season] driven by accelerated digital adoption post-Covid-19. We expect this expanded customer base to reflect during the festive sales period as well,” the RedSeer report notes—adding that shoppers in tier-2-plus cities continue to be 55-60% of the total shopper base this year, similar or higher than 57% in 2020 festive period.

Experts point out that improved vernacular interface of online platforms, lucrative deals, and easier credit availability are the main factors for growth in consumer base in the non-metros.

Today e-commence platforms are hunting grounds for the best deals—with players such as Flipkart, Amazon and others jostling to offer the best prices (at the cost of margins) to get more customers on board, and online festive season sales are now a regular shopping event for Indian consumers.

Ahead of Myntra’s ‘Big Fashion Festival’ that begins early October, the online retailer has strengthened its supply chain network across the country with the addition of one fulfilment centre, three (operations) hubs, 12 satellite hubs, and 171 distribution centres to ramp up its storage capacity and optimise its last-mile delivery.

The new fulfilment centre in Kolkata measures over two lakh square feet and is designed to store up to 45 lakh items catering to the upcoming festive demand, including Durga Puja—the biggest festival in West Bengal. Myntra claims that about four million customers shopped for 13 million items during the ‘Big Fashion Festival’ last year.

"With the expansion of our overall storage and processing facility, we are geared up to deliver a fulfilling festive shopping experience,” says Amar Nagaram, CEO, Myntra.

E-commerce giant Amazon, whose biggest festival sale of the year ‘Great Indian Festival’—which begins early next month—would include over 1,000 new product launches from brands such as Samsung, OnePlus, Allen Solly, Adidas, Maybelline, Forest Essentials, and others. Besides, it will also back small sellers—including over 75,000 local shops from 450 cities—offering their selection of products to customers across the country.

Keeping in mind the demand for the festive season, Flipkart has recently introduced a separate marketplace model—‘Flipkart Xtra’ with an aim to provide flexible earning opportunities to individuals, service agencies and technicians—while ramping up its supply chain ahead of the festive season sale. The ‘Flipkart Xtra’ app offers partners the advantage of signing up from anywhere and the flexibility of choosing their preferred schedule to deliver shipments. Flipkart claims that during last year’s festive season the kirana delivery model fulfilled 10 million shipments.

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