Jain, The Economic Times
Delhi, 16 September 2015
'Big Billion Days' sale has yet again run into glitches this year,
and this time the ecommerce giant is tendering apologies to its
sellers in Agra whose products have been removed from the site
for almost two days now due to delivery issues.
Various vendors in the city ET spoke to complained that Flipkart
has blocked their products to be sold on its ecommerce site amid
a rush of consumers. They said the listings of their products
were not visible on the company's website since the second day
of the mega sale event after they saw major traction on Tuesday,
the first day of sale.
"We were waiting for the Big Billion Days sale and have
kept ourselves adequately stocked to meet the consumer demands.
We got six times more order than what we usually get, on the first
day of the event. But on the second day we were surprised to see
our orders fell to zero. This is when we realised that something
is wrong," said an Agra-based vendor who sells artificial
jewellery on Flipkart.
One footwear vendor who received around 120 orders on day one
said he has not been able to dispatch the whole order even on
the third day because Flipkart's logistics partner is only collecting
partial orders, saying they have been asked only to collect certain
orders owing to huge demand.
Experts said this reveals gaps in Flipkart's logistics as the
company has failed to cope with the huge amount of business the
Big Billion Days is generating this year as well. The mega sale
event had run into glitches last year when thousands of customers
complained about products being sold out on the website even before
they can hit buy button. There were complains of company intentionally
increasing the prices of some products to make the discount look
even bigger and the website also crashed several time. Eventually
Flipkart's co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal had to apologize
to the customers after the event.
Manish Maheshwari, vice president and head of sellers' ecosystem
at Flipkart, said consumer demand is around 40% more than the
3-4 times increase the company had expected "and there are
implications of that".
"Being a marketplace, everything that is ordered by the
consumer has to be supplied by the seller. And we have limited
capacity in terms of how many people we have and how many collections
we can do in a day," said Maheshwari. "So, it might
be true that for a day we might have switched off the pick up
from the Agra hub and therefore sellers in this region would have
been impacted," he said.
"But they might have received enough demand on day one.
This is a temporary block and we switch them back again once the
backlog is cleared up," Maheshwari added.
According to the Agra vendors, they got an automated message
from Flipkart on their seller account: "To ensure customers
receive their orders on time and have a great experience buying
your products, we have to temporarily restrict the order flow
for sellers in your area. We will be reverting to normal order
flow by tomorrow morning or as soon as the situation eases up.
We apologise for the inconvenience and thank you for the continued
However, many vendors in Agra region said the services were not
restored as of Thursday afternoon.
Some of the vendors said their listings were showing on Flipkart
site/app, but consumers could not place order because either 'Add
to Cart' option was disabled or they would be repeatedly greeted
by 'The item is currently unavailable in your pin-code'.
Devangshu Dutta, chief executive of retail consultancy Third
Eyesight, said the peak capacity that Flipkart planned for Agra
region might have reached and "now they were not able to
pick any more orders to deliver".
"There is a very clear indication of the infrastructure
gap," Dutta said. "If you are looking at rapid ramp
up of business it cannot happen without the requisite infrastructure
because all such infrastructure capacity planning has to be done
on the basis of peak demand and if every time you are building
up demand only to find it blocked by lack of capacity then obviously
it is a problem," he said.
Another industry expert who did not wish to be named said it
is a clear disappointment for vendors who are losing out on business,
which they know is theirs as consumer orders were coming on day
one. "There must be an investment made from the vendors'
side for one of the biggest sales in the ecommerce industry. That
investment has essentially gone down the drain," the person
Maheshwari of Flipkart said that while it needs to add more capacities
to meet the ever-growing demand, it is already following a scientific
process to keep all stakeholders happy.
He said that when certain hubs starts getting more order than
expected, the company switches off the collection hub of that
particular region and the demand then gets diverted to the region
where it is low. During this period, all the vendors linked to
that collection centre will not be able to generate new orders.
The company switches on the hub again once all the backlog has
been cleared, Maheshwari said.
(Published in The