By her own admission, Sweta Singh (32), a Bangalore-based communications professional, is reduced to a near pauper by the end of the festival season each year. This year, weighed down by EMIs, Singh was reluctant to splurge, but that didn’t stop her from spending R10,000 in just two hours at an online fashion store that offered up to a 70% discount and freebies.
With Indians becoming even more familiar with e-commerce, online retailers hope to beat the sluggish consumer mood during the festival months that started with Onam in Kerala, followed by Dussehra and Diwali. The players are offering exclusive deals in apparel, accessories and ethnic-wear brands as they feed off traffic from popular social shopping and networking sites.
E-tailer Flipkart.com expects a 50% growth in sales during the festival season compared with the previous month.
“We have a number of offers and discounts being planned for the Diwali season across all our products — especially our gifting categories. We are concentrating on our newly launched categories like home furnishings and ethnic wear. Sales for ethnic wear have doubled over the last three months,” says Ravi Vora, senior VP (marketing), Flipkart.com.
“We are expecting around three times more sale from our online space this festival season, which can be attributed to not just buying for self but also includes a lot of gifting. Our online sales percentage is also fuelled through the incentivised buying schemes that we provide our customers. Also, the product portfolio during the festival season is comparatively higher,” says Anita Dongre, creative director, AND & Global Desi, an offline fashion house that is expecting its online platform to pump up volumes during the festival season.
India’s R1,500-crore online apparel market includes a R300-400 crore ethnic wear sub-segment. E-tailers point out that apparel as a category offers 30-40% margin depending on the brand and price point. Experts say that schemes, promotions and marketing are geared towards increasing the average transaction value as well as the number of items on the cart during the last four months of the year.
Online retailer Myntra is seeing an increase in the number of items in cart by 30-50% during the festival season. For Myntra, the average selling price per customer is expected to go up by 50%, doubling the overall sales. “All the categories jump, but ethnic wear jump disproportionately to almost double. We are expanding our collection in ethnic wear,” says Ganesh Subramanian, chief operating officer, Myntra.com, adding that more than 60% of its women’s wear business comes from ethnic wear during the festival months.
Recommendations shared on the social networking sites are also helping the e-tailers. “On several occasions, my friends have posted the deals as their status message and I have clicked on the link to reach the website. The fact that a friend has already checked it out and finds it good is a big incentive to click on the link,” says Sweta Singh.
The Facebook route is coming in handy for retailers too. Bangalore-based Simantini Ghosh, who recently started her designer saree business ‘Angana and Oloshoi’, got the entire clientele at her first exhibition through Facebook promotions. “I didn’t have the money to pay for a website of my own. This way, you get a ready-made clientele and an interactive platform to expand your business,” says Ghosh.
Women’s social shopping platform LimeRoad.com, too, is encouraging community-based user-generated visual content for their products, which includes clothing, accessories, footwear and gift items. Keeping in mind the festival season, the online platform has started its style council by various designers, fashion and celebrity bloggers to make shopping more interactive.
“It is a great discovery for the users. This helps us inject variety and freshness. We push user-generated products to Facebook so that it starts trending. We feel that trend must become democratic. Ideas must come from every corner of the country. We are also asking the celebrity bloggers to create their own scarpbooks,” says Suchi Mukherjee, CEO and co-founder, LimeRoad.com
However, Pragya Singh, associate director (retail) at Technopak, a research firm, feels that the challenge for e-tailers is to engage a consumer in multiple ways and build loyalty. “Social media is important because people are highly connected. The marketing of the brand is easy on social networking platforms and is proving to be an important channel for them,” she says.