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Flipkart co-founders apologise for glitches

In an email sent to each Flipkart buyer, the Bansals addressed all issues that led to large scale consumer complaints

Itika Sharma Punit 

A day after they claimed to have made history, co-founders and reached out to customers with a personal apology, acknowledging during the company’s ‘Big Billion Day’ sale on Monday.

The sale, which claimed would offer discounts Indian 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 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.”

  • Targeted $100 million in GMV; achieved target is 10 hours
  • One billion hits across devices; more traffic than Facebook in India
  • Saw a million mobile app downloads, one of the highest ever for any app in a day
  • Sold 2 million items, at a whopping 60 items a second
  • Sold a TV every second
  • Sold 500,000 units in mobiles and an equal number in the fashion segment
  • Got orders from 6,000 pin codes and about 1,000 cities

“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 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 sale was its reputation,” said one of the several tweets that went viral.

While a post on website, 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 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”.

First Published: Wed, October 08 2014. 00:18 IST