Flipkart’s Big Billion Day Sale yesterday, perhaps in fond memory of the apartment (#610) the company started out of, was, as some of you might know, a disaster of sorts. While the company did roll in some big bucks (try imagining $100 million worth of products in 10 hours to be specific), it left a trail of angry shoppers in its wake.
Like many of you, I got this apology email from Flipkart earlier today.
I wasn’t shopping on their site yesterday, but Twitter kept me posted on the unavoidable and perhaps avoidable goofs on their part. Now while I’d personally understand ‘site down’ issues, and ‘Out of stock’ messages I’d put in the plain silly category, what would be unforgiving is price changes.
The price change ‘sin’ that Flipkart committed was, apparently jacking up (considerably) rates of some items on sale, and then given a tempting % off on them. This is perhaps relatively new to ecommerce retail, but is commonplace during any normal sale in a multi-branded outlets, if not in smaller chains too. The hype created around the sale and the quickly vanishing shelves of stuff, leaves naive customers in a buying frenzy, little realizing that rather than buying at discounted prices, they are in fact buying at a premium.
Original price: INR 100
Sale ‘Original price’ tag: INR180
Unbelievable Discount during Sale: 40%.!!!!
Discounted price you pay: INR 108
At a sale, most people are unlikely to interrogate the store staff on original price, etc., for fear of causing a scene. And retail chains got away with the crime. But ecommerce is a different story. Here, displeasure can be expressed in anonymity, and online retail businesses would have to be wary of any such tactics to con the customer.
Is Flipkart’s apology genuine or not, only time will tell.
This reminds me of a scene from the movie Wild Hogs, where the four friends go bull-slapping. After Woody has slapped the bull, and Doug goes to slap it..
Earl: Yeah, and we never seen it done twice in a row.
Woody Stevens: What?
Earl: It’ll be interesting to see how the bull takes being slapped, now that he’s alert.
(In our context now) Flipkart: Alert?