Amazon lines up 1 million products for next-day delivery

Amazon India has tripled its warehousing capacity to 5 million cubic feet since last Diwali and has lined up 1 million products for next-day delivery as the country's two largest online retail rivals launch simultaneous five-day sales on Tuesday.

"It would be great deals for customers, ensuring that sellers have a blockbuster time, ensuring that we provide a great experience we believe that this will be the greatest sale India has ever seen," said Amit Agarwal, head of Amazon in India. To entice customers through its app, Amazon is giving a kilogram of gold to winners on each of the sales days. Agarwal did not answer specific questions on the quantum of deals and discounts to be offered.

"Thousands of deals will be available every hour" during the five-day mega sale. "We believe that millions of new customers are going to come. Based on our experience from the last two sales, more than 60% of our customers come from Tier II and Tier III cities," Agarwal said.

Both Amazon and rival Flipkart will have their high-voltage festive sales from October 13 to 17, not only taking on each other but also triggering a backlash from small traders who accuse the deep-pocketed ecommerce companies of using foreign money illegally to fund deep discounts.

The Confederation of All India Traders, an association of small traders, wrote to the commerce ministry asking the government to restrict the ecommerce companies from such sales and to check alleged foreign exchange violations by them.

Amazon said it has been preparing for the mega sale for months by enrolling a host of vendors and product selections. "More than 25,000 sellers queued up in the last two months to participate in this," Agarwal said in an interview.

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Amazon, Flipkart duped for Rs. 36 lakh

Why people buy online? It is not just about convenience and choice. The option to return the goods is also a big attraction. No questions asked. One can just return it or ask for a replacement. Most of the e-commerce firms let people return the things they bought at no cost to the consumer.

A crafty customer in Hyderabad cleverly used this option to deceive e-commerce majors Amazon and Flipkart. Not once or twice, this customer duped the e-commerce players several times over and made a gain of Rs. 55 lakh over a period of time. The cops, however, nabbed him and unearthed the modus operandi.

Hyderabad police claimed that P V R Reddy of Vanasthalipuram had ganged up with his kin to organise the elaborate crime that mostly involved electronic products such as motherboards. He would order the products online. After receiving it, he would remove an important component and contact the firm that the product is not working.

The company would promptly send a courier boy to collect the ‘faulty’ product and replace it with a new one. Not satisfied again, he would ask the firm to cancel the purchase and return the amount.

Acting on a complaint from Flipkart, the sleuths have kept an eye on Reddy’s movements and nabbed him. What they found with the accused baffled them. Though it’s not uncommon for people to return the faulty products, the sheer size of rejections made by Reddy and his kin flummoxed both the police and the e-commerce firm.

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Did all the things a startup shouldn’t do

Did all the things a startup shouldn’t do: Craftsvilla co-founder Manoj Gupta

It’s never easy to lay off people, our first two years were chaotic, we ate through our funds, sold our home and did all the things a startup shouldn’t do,” says Manoj Gupta.

Founded in 2011 by Manoj and Monica Gupta,, an online marketplace for ethnic products is among the few Indian startups to have remained afloat and scaled without raising funds in 2013 and 2014. Offering excessive discounts, seeing no repeat customers, acquiring sellers with fake shops; burning Rs 50 lakhs in cash each month, eventually lead to sacking 70 employees in October 2012, resulting in a change of strategy.

The startup had completely exhausted the Rs 10 crore early-stage and series-A round of funding from Nexus Venture Partners and Lightspeed Ventures, which was followed by the couple selling their home and cutting down their employees to a 10-member team. "We were giving double the amount in terms of salaries to employees, we cut down to one person for finance, one for tech and so on," says Gupta, "Basically retained the barest possible skeletal structure which we could survive on." The focus changed from managing people and giving away consumer discounts to gaining strong seller acquisitions, using technology to automate systems for selling and customer care, automating inventory updates, tracking numbers in bulk and even charging sellers for marketing.

According to Gupta, focusing on increasing the checks and measures in place for sellers reduced the chance of them creating shortcuts. The startup also focused on optimising SEO in order to bring in more traffic, relying heavily upon social media marketing, specifically through Facebook. "From burning Rs 50 lakhs a month to bringing it down to a few lakhs, we eventually were generating profits of Rs 3 lakh a month in 2013 and 2014, which we either invested in marketing or fixed deposits," added Gupta. According to the startup, their present customer acquisition strategy ensures they do not incur more than Rs 100 for acquiring each consumer. Craftsvilla presently takes a 20% commission on each transaction and has over 25,000 artisans and designers on board.

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