Smartphone flash sales are currently the hottest thing when it comes to the Indian e-commerce scene. These flash sales are for phones sold exclusively by a specific online retailer, and the stocks are limited. Limited stock is one part that attracts buyers, and almost all of these smartphones come with a sweet price tag too.
Amazon, along with Yu Televentures (a subsidiary of Micromax), held a flash sale for the new Yu Yureka smartphone this Tuesday with just 10,000 units in stock. The online retail giant first accepted registrations from users who wanted to buy the Yureka smartphone, which saw over three lakh registrations according to Micromax co-founder Rahul Sharma. Amazon took the Lightning Deals route to sell the smartphone, with sales being limited to those who registered for the device.
As with all flash sales, some people get lucky while some feel offended they couldn't get their hands on the device. Some prospective customers couldn't even access the website on desktop or mobile for a few minutes when the sale went live. One prospective customer even claimed that Amazon had only about 3,000 units to sell during the sale. When asked about this, Micromax denied this, but Amazon did not respond to the queries. But is it possible that an online retail giant like Amazon would simply make up a figure of 10,000 units in stock?
Both Amazon and Yureka claimed to have registered around 300,000 prospective customers for the sale, but it's highly unlikely that each and every one of them would turn up for the sale. Some customers even choose to walk out of a Lightning Deal after claiming it in the first place. But even if half of the registered customers showed up, the sale would still have been over in a matter of seconds. That's what happened.
So what went wrong for customers? First, let's see how Amazon's Lightning Deals work. Amazon lists a specific product on sale for a limited period during one of these sales. Each sale includes a specific number of products, and if a customer wants to buy these, they must claim the deal by adding the product to their cart, and checkout within 15 minutes. If they fail to complete the payment within 15 minutes, the product gets taken off the customer's cart.
Then there's a waiting list since some people will complete the payment within 15 minutes. After all the deals have been added to user's carts, Amazon forms a queue and assigns customers a number in the waiting list, along with an indicator of how likely they're able to get their hands on the deal. "Poor" indicates there's a long queue, and means the stock is about to get over. "Good" indicates that the customer might just be able to grab the deal. So what could have happened with the Yu Yureka sale?
With the Yureka sale, Amazon sold the phone using the same Lightning Deals concept. But if there was a single Lightning Deal for 10,000 units, the waiting list could have been really long too. Customers would end up waiting for several minutes, or probably as long as an hour before they could access the deal. So, it's likely that Amazon split the entire stock into multiple Lightning Deals. This could be done to ensure a smooth checkout and waiting list process for customers.
If this were the case, then prospective customer Abhay Rana caught hold of was a fragment of the total Yureka Lightning Deals, which explains why it was limited to just 3,000 units.
This wasn't the only issue in the sale though. Some customers even reported seeing a full price for the device, showing how they caught the product page in the middle of an expiration of a Lightning Deal. Amazon has issued a statement this morning on Twitter, claiming they're taking care of customers who ended up paying the full amount due to the error. Why would Amazon own up to one error, but not comment on the number of phones sold?
Amazon and Yureka must have spent quite a decent amount of money promoting the sale, and the device overall. It just doesn't make sense for either of the companies to lie about the stock situation on the very first day of the sale. That said, we're still waiting for an official word from Amazon to clear up the issue - something that's unlikely to happen, as Amazon would not want to give away too many technical workarounds for its deals.
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