Is India a Seasonal/Festive-Led eCommerce Market

Amit Maheshwari, Snapdeal: eCommerce companies like offer competitive prices throughout the year making products more affordable than offline stores. However the festive season does bring in a greater wave of enthusiasm for all the companies including eCommerce companies. This a global trend which is being witnessed in different parts of the world. While December is a key month for UK and US retailers, in India October & November are the most crucial months where breakthrough sales are generally witnessed.

Arun Sirdeshmukh, CEO, Fashionara: No, I don’t think it’s seasonal and only a festive season driven kind of a market. I don’t know from where is that theory coming from, because if you ask any eCommerce player, like any other business it’s only a normal uptake, but we all are generating revenues all through the year.

But there are times when there are new season range etc. typically there are a few good times in the year when there are good sales, discounts etc. on the fashion products, those periods become popular times for people to shop, so that happens typically in say January, February, July, August, April May, during the summer, festive season which is now i.e. August September onwards people start looking buy some new trend etc. Imagine a business which only powers up during a certain period, if it’s seasonal then imagine all the capacity, how do you deliver? How will you keep people on your rolls and don’t have a business over an year and only for some time.

eCommerce is nothing but just a channel, this business is no different from a business which is offline, it’s just a more convenient way of reaching out to customers, it’s not like we are selling some different product. Actual consumption of products follows the normal pattern of demand-supply, seasonal-non seasonal discounts, all the standard tools and pressure demand goes up and down in physical retail applies to online retail as well. I don’t believe in it all that it’s a season or festive kind of channel I believe is all year around 365 days.

Usually in fashion retail, people break their business into two parts one is January to June and other is July to December, you will find that second half gives 60% of the business and rest comes in first half. So this period is when you consume more clothes, more festivals are there, holidays, wedding etc. all these contribute to the sale. Its the same in both offline and online retail.

Deepa Thomas, eBay: Not really. Today many consumers are shopping online for a variety of goods from brands and small businesses all year round, and benefitting from a wider selection, better deals & the convenience of home delivery and shopping 24X7. There are seasonal product lines which spike around festive periods (home appliances and gold coins in Diwali) or as the seasons change (an umbrella or water proof gadget cases in the monsoon versus beachwear and caps in the summer).  There is also a larger propensity to buy higher value gadgets in the festive period for both pragmatic (rational) & traditional (emotional) reasons. Pragmatic because most retailers and brands have great deals on offer during this season and traditional because its auspicious to buy new gadgets for the home in the festive period.

On eBay Consumers eagerly await our daily, weekly and monthly deals.

Generally we have observed a phenomenal increase in terms of both visits as well as transactions during festive season, there is a strong tilt towards most popular products such as mobile, laptops, tablets, cameras, TVs, home appliances, home décor, fashion, gold coins, perfumes, kitchenware and toys amongst others. Some of the key reasons for the same can be attributed to the convenience of shopping from their houses, anytime they want. It also helps them avoid crowded market areas or stories, overcome parking challenges and save fuel. In fact, our recent Mobile Commerce Festive Survey also indicated an increase in the usage of mobiles to shop online. The survey highlighted that about 78% shoppers prefer shopping on mobiles to get great deals on purchases and about 60% shoppers said they shop on mobile to save fuel. Over 61% shoppers said shopping on mobile also saves them from parking woes and long queues.

Hanif Sama, COO, It’s no longer just a seasonal or festival driven eCommerce market. Barring 3 major festivals like Diwali, Raksha Bandhan and Valentines Day, no other festival drives eCommerce transactions in a major way. Most websites have some offer or the other running all through the year.

Meenu Handa, Amazon: There is certainly a spike during the festive season keeping in line with the festive and shopping mood of consumers but we believe that the convenience of shopping online anytime anywhere, coupled with a wide selection at low prices is what is leading to a greater adoption of online shopping. This is steadily growing and is not limited to just festive seasons.

Nikhil Rungta, CBO, Yebhi: We see consistent sales all round the year,and what happens in the festive season is that the sales go up. But otherwise we are seeing a very good month on month sales that are happening without any dips, festive season is definitely a time when everyone wants to shop and online shopping is becoming very lucrative to the people because of the deals, discounts, payment options that are very convenient today, people like to avoid rush and parking problems, so overall eCommerce is growing at a steady phase and I don’t think it’s a festive driven approach, surely during festive season numbers go up by 30-40% for that period, but overall also we are seeing a good growth.

Prashant Tandon, Healthkart: I do not think eCommerce will be seasonal or festival led for a store like In my view,  eCommerce also follows the consumer consumption patterns just like traditional retail. What this means is that for certain verticals like electronics, jewelry, home decor etc.  there will be a festive/seasonal spike. However for many categories we operate in, the need of product and hence the demand is consistent throughout the year and festivals/seasons do not have a significant impact. Having said that, we do expect a 20-25% jump in our sales for fitness/ weight management products in this festive season.

Praveen Sinha, Jabong: With the festive season around the corner, the retailers certainly have a reason to cheer about. A tremendous rise in sales is a dominant trend during this season- shopping frenzy boosts festive spending every year. This is a universal phenomenon and we can see this happening globally during Christmas, New Year, Diwali, Eid etc. Similar to any other retail industry, eCommerce too is governed by the seasonal and festive trends. The demand is round the year and there are spikes during festival season.

Traditionally customers in India wait for the festive season to shop. Due to this deferred purchase, we normally see a rise in purchase during festive season.  We have seen a healthy increase in number of visits on our sites through branded as well as non-branded marketing channels. Categories like home décor and women’s ethnic wear, jewellery and beauty see a visible spike in sales during Durga Puja and Diwali. The enthusiasm is not limited to this, a significant growth in categories, like men’s and women’s footwear is also noticed. Categories like home and living (lighting, wall paintings and crockery) which are ideal for gifting also see higher than normal demand during this time.

eCommerce is one of the channels for the customers, and sales through it reflect the shopping patterns of the people in India. Having said that, eCommerce tends to outperform other channels like modern trade and unorganized retail and gets a disproportionately high share of the festival wallet. The prime reason for opting for online shopping during season could be to avoid battling traffic, huge assortment to choose from, parking issues, and long lines for bill payment and to top that there are multiple offers that the online players offer.

We believe festival season provides us with a great opportunity to get a spike of even 100% increase in our sales. The festive feel good factor, gifting and targeted campaigns all contribute to this growth. Our strategies for the festive season are driven towards stimulating demand and realizing higher sales, while assuring consumers a delightful and fulfilling shopping experience. This includes festive discounts, selling gift cards, corporate vouchers, etc. We also have “bundling” feature for festive offers.

Keeping the real life situations in mind, we offer gift packing and same day/ next day deliveries for last minute purchases. We also increase our marketing spend significantly to capitalize on the festive impact. We engage with customers by coming up with campaigns around the festivals and featuring products which customers would be looking for during festivals.

Rajesh Nahar, CEO, Cbazaar: During festive season Cbazaar sees a surge in demand for ethnic wear not only from India but also from the south asians living outside India. Year on year during festive season we see this demand going up by 40%. To match this demand we make sure the new designs that we launch on our eStores are in line with the festive season. These  peak festive seasons for us are Eid during the months of July & August and Navratri, Dussehra, Durga puja, Eid al adha abd Diwali during October and November. The festive season is also the time when eStores like ours, and retail chains offer lucrative deals and incentives to their customers to push the sales. Other than festivals, the wedding season is equally important to us as it contributes significantly to our sales.

Ravi Vora, Senior VP Marketing, Flipkart: Seasonal offers and the occasion of gifting during festivals definitely create significant spikes in sales. There is a sizeable consumer demand that companies like ours can tap into. However there is still a long way to go before it assumes the proportions that larger markets like US & China see.

Sanjay Sethi, CEO, Shopclues: In India retail is no different from retail anywhere in India. Most retailers, whether offline or online, would all look forward to the holiday season, so I think we are no different. eCommerce is a part of retail and it’s in the same cycle. eCommerce business is good throughout the year but becomes better during the festival season as there are more festival holidays, more disposable income, better deals, new models are launched. All this happens in the entire retail world and eCommerce is no different.

Saurabh Malik, Business Head, Indiatimes Shopping: Festivals are an important period for online retail because the overall consumer sentiment is positive. At the same time, saying that the eCommerce market is festival led is not entirely correct. Online retail has been growing at an exponential rate since the last 3 years and festivals have had a very little role to play with this growth. Festivals were an important part of eCommerce scheme of things in the early days when people used online retail sites to send gifts to their friends and relatives in different cities/countries online. Things have drastically changed from those days with people now using online retail.

 Vikas Ahuja, CMO, Myntra:  In general, festivals in India see significant uplifts for many categories including durables, cars, electronics etc. due to the propensity to spend during festivals, bonuses, and it is auspicious to buy during certain periods/festivals. In the world of fashion/apparel/shoes, there is a similar phenomenon where we see a jump of 30 – 50% during festivals.

However, while festivals play a role in providing an opportunity for e-com brands and customers to find common interest and result in a spurt in purchase/sale, they are not a defining feature of the annual trends. In general, e-com is growing at a rapid clip, and the quarter on quarter growths are very good; with festivals, we get a further boost. In our space, end of season sale, new collection launches (Autumn-winter / Spring-Summer) are also opportunities to engage more with customers, and provide greater/newer offerings.

Having said that, given the pivotal role festivals play in our lives, we would expect to see a continuing level of engagement and excitement over time.

Iamwire Take

After reading all these behind the scene stories of the top eTailers in India, one can’t say eCommerce market in India is just seasonal. However festive season do command a good percentage of yearly sale, with a large focus of retailers 10 days before and after the festivals and seasonal activities.

It shall be interesting to explore further on mix of products that dominate round the year sale and those that contribute to festive seasons at large.

As per the retailers the customers keep coming throughout the year, and festive season is just another reason for people to shop, which is unlike the visible behaviour where except for some need driven items, a large population centers its purchase around an occasion, like a festival or a wedding.

It is encouraging though, to learn from retailers that they are banking their strategy on year long purchases and not seasonal activities, probably a good news for investors.

Seasons Greetings from Iamwire team !

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