A day after they claimed to have made history, Flipkart co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal reached out to customers with a personal apology, acknowledging glitches during the company’s ‘Big Billion Day’ sale on Monday.
The sale, which Flipkart claimed would offer discounts Indian e-commerce buyers had never seen, was slammed on social networking websites for issues such as inflation in prices ahead of the sale, stocks running out within seconds and server errors that continued for hours.
In an email sent to each Flipkart buyer, the Bansals addressed all these issues. “Yesterday was a big day for us. And, we really wanted it to be a great day for you. But at the end of the day, we know your experience was less than pleasant,” the email said. “We did not live up to the promises we made and for that, we are really and truly sorry.”
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“Though we saw unprecedented interest in our products and traffic like never before, we also realised we were not adequately prepared for the sheer scale of the event,” the email read. “We didn’t source enough products and deals in advance to cater to your requirements. To add to this, the load on our server led to intermittent outages, further impacting your shopping experience on our site.”
While Flipkart claimed it had clocked sales worth $100 million in gross merchandise value within 10 hours of the Big Billion Day sale, the event saw negative reactions from customers. By Monday evening, micro-blogging website Twitter was flooded with posts from angry buyers, some saying they would never visit the Flipkart site again.
“Among other things Flipkart sold cheap during its Big Billion Day sale was its reputation,” said one of the several tweets that went viral.
While a post on website missionsharingknowledge.com, displaying graphs of prices being increased just before the sale began, went viral, the email from the Flipkart co-founders said the pricing changed to non-discounted rates for a few hours, in preparation for the sale. “We realise this breaks the trust our customers have put in us. We are truly sorry for this and will ensure this never happens again,” the email said. It added Flipkart had deployed about 5,000 servers and prepared for 20 times its regular traffic. However, the volume of visitors was much higher than anticipated, leading to server issues, it said, adding the company was significantly scaling up its back-end systems to deal with such issues.
The email said for the Big Billion Day sale, Flipkart had sourced many units of products, but the demand was so high that it led to the website running out of stock on several products, within seconds.
Cancellation of orders, another issue raised by several buyers, was due to several buyers purchasing the same product simultaneously, leading to instances of over-booking, the company said.
The Bansals concluded the email with the promise of a “much better job the next time”.