As Google's Great Online Shopping Festival (GOSF) enters its third day, the search giant claims that the response from customers has been a huge success. Though, looking at the sentiments being expressed by people on social networks suggests that the actual sentiment is a little more mixed.
The impact of these "72-hours of crazy" goes well beyond the immediate sale of products. Offline retailers will often hold sales on articles that aren't selling well, to clear stock and make space on their shelves for the next batch of products coming in.
On the other hand, online sellers have another motive in holding an online sale - to build buzz and awareness about your store, and to encourage people to actually shop online. Quick deliveries, cash on delivery, and big deals mean that even if you're not typically shopping online, it becomes hard to resist the temptation to shop online, while still feeling secure in knowing that no money is spent until you actually get the product.
Typically however, shopping online during big sales can be a big issue because your products take a lot of time to be delivered. The impact of the sale is lessened if the product isn't going to reach you for a week or even longer - this was a common experience for people who purchased goods online during Flipkart's Big Billion Sale, and Amazon's Diwali Dhamaka Week.
What's changed with the GOSF sale is that deliveries seem to be a priority here - in our case, an order made yesterday at 5PM is out for delivery and it has already reached the NDTV Gadgets' office - without choosing any priority shipping option. We weren't the only ones either:
Contrast this to last year, where the initial launch of the GOSF overwhelmed participating sites, and lead to such problems that the deals were extended by an extra day to make up for the problems customers were facing.
Despite these problems, the last GOSF attracted 2 million visitors, and saw a three-fold or four-fold increase in sales numbers on participating sites, a huge number by any metric. Flipkart's Big Billion Day Sale also saw sales topping Rs. 600 crores in 10 hours with Snapdeal also reporting a similar figure.
These earlier sales were also heavily advertised offline - a measure that's just built interest in the GOSF sale this year. According to Google India Managing Director Rajan Anandan, sales on sites like Flipkart and Amazon are also up 100 percent this GOSF. And it's a safe bet that many of the people who have been buying products have not bought things online before. And at least some of these buyers are going to become regular online shoppers.
Others, including some people in the NDTV Gadgets newsroom, have bought high value items online for the first time. These customers are also now more likely to repeat the experience. The value of the GOSF and other big online sales is thus a lot more than just clearing inventory - it's also about creating customers for life.