Anticipating a very high volume of traffic during its 'Big Billion Day' sale on Monday, e-commerce major Flipkart has enhanced its technology capabilities, inventory, and supply-chain capacities. According to sources, the company has doubled its ground staff to 10,000 over the past few months since it started planning for the event, and extended deliveries to 40 more cities.
Flipkart had a team of about 5,000 delivery staff in July this year.
"When you scale up massively on one day, all touch points that interact with the consumers require large amount of planning," Shoumyan Biswas, head of offline marketing at Flipkart.com confirmed without sharing the investment that the company has made for these preparations.
"Technology is the first area that needs to be strengthened because if the website crashes, you cannot even place an order. You also need to have that much inventory and you need to speed up your supply chain so that you have enough hands and legs on the ground," he said. Also, there will be a lot of consumers who would visit the website for the first time and those people will need help, prompting the company to significantly increase the customer support team.
The preparations on the technology front are perhaps inspired by the incident in July this year when Flipkart's website crashed as buyers flooded to order Chinese handset maker Xiaomi's Mi 3 mobile phone devices, which were available exclusively on Flipkart.
With the festive season approaching, e-tailers are going all out to woo consumers. Flipkart, SnapDeal and Amazon, which compete fiercely in the Indian online retailing space, have all started multi-channel advertising campaigns.
In a first of its kind event in India, on the 'Big Billion Day', Flipkart will run deep discounts across 70 categories. Biswas claims the event will be different from any other sales that Indian e-commerce consumers have earlier seen.
Flipkart might consider making the 'Big Billion Day' an annual affair, but a lot will depend on the response that it gets from consumers this time. After Flipkart started marketing for the day when it plans to run "unprecedented discounts", it has already seen a surge in traffic on its website and an increase in download of its mobile application.
"We are seeing an increase in traffic and an increase in people wanting to create their 'wishlist' and be ready for the day. We are also encouraging people to download the mobile application because we know that in several parts of the country, people will be shopping through mobile devices," said Biswas.
According to him, 'big' in the 'Big Billion Day' stands for the audacity and largeness of the event, while 'billion' refers to the population of India. While several observers were of the opinion that Flipkart's advertising campaign for the 'Big Billion Day' was triggered by competitor Amazon's founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' visit to India, the company has chosen the date inspired by the apartment number 610, where Flipkart's co-founders, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, began their journey in 2007.
Biswas believes that the investments that Flipkart has made in preparation of this one day would have been made by the company any way, as it is seeing the need to ramp up with a growing demand.