Festive clicks

Online shopping may well prove to be the big change this season

Sale season on High Street is well defined — usually a few weeks each in January and July. The ongoing festive season is when brick-and-mortar retailers lure gift-hunting shoppers with greater variety, not lower prices. That’s not how it’s in the online universe, though. Starting Eid in end-August, until Diwali in mid-November, your inbox is likely to be flooded with mails from e-retailers, offering special deals, season-specific products and, most importantly, discounts. Many shopping sites have also decked up for the season, changing the look and feel of their sites for each festival.

At stake is an anticipated 50-200% spike in monthly sales, thanks not only to increased traffic but also a jump in average ticket size of up to 30-40%. Not surprisingly, discounts and special offers are the most popular way of attracting customers, especially since there’s usually little price competition from offline retailers during this season. So, e-retailers like Jewelsnext have promotions like no making charges on diamond jewellery, while Snapdeal is partnering with brands like Samsung and Micromax for exclusive discount offers. The idea is to differentiate the site for buyers, says Sandeep Komaravelly, vice-president, marketing, Snapdeal. 

Other sites are doing that by introducing new lines and restocking with an eye on upcoming festivals. Tradus plans to launch a premium range of ethnic clothing while jewellery sites like Juvalia and You, Jewelskart and Bluestone are launching festival-specific lines. For instance, on Rakshabandhan, Bluestone launched a collection of gold rakhis studded with diamonds that doubled up as pendants and came packed with traditional puja articles like roli chawal.

Chief marketing officer Shipra Jain adds that the site has introduced exclusive, Ganesha-inspired jewellery in time for Ganesh Chaturthi and plans similar promotions for other festivals as well. Online home décor store Zansaar, on the other hand, is leveraging the festivals-and-food connection to promote its signature Diwali lines; the site will feature recipes for festive foods and traditional sweets. Also planned is a blog offering simple home makeover ideas for Diwali, says Jawad Ayaz, founder and CEO, Zansaar.

Will these efforts bring in shoppers? Industry body Assocham certainly thinks so. A recent survey expects net sales for e-retailers to zoom by 140% during the festive season this year. Electronics, idols of deities, sweets, clothes and jewellery are likely to see the highest sales, and not just in the metros. Smaller cities, too, are likely to get caught up in the wave of lower prices, anytime shopping and doorstep delivery. “Indians tend to spend more around festivals and it is a fair assumption that with more offers and discounts from these sites, shoppers will flock to them,” says Kedar Gavane, director of internet analytics company Comscore India. That should add some festive cheer to the retail sector.