Covid-19 has been an inflexion point for e-tailers.
E-commerce companies managed to beat the odds by adopting a flexible approach in terms of transforming their business models and leveraging emerging technologies.
They had to constantly align their objectives with evolving customer needs.
With companies hiring thousands of temporary workers, expanding to smaller cities, and launching new products, e-commerce giants gird up to celebrate the peak festival season without Covid restrictions after a three-year time-out.
When the clock strikes 12, online platforms of Amazon, Flipkart, Meesho, and Myntra will explode on Friday.
Millions of shoppers are expected to go online to grab the special deals on offer as the big hitters host their biggest festival season sales this weekend.
This is also the first time their employees are back in office or have switched to a hybrid work set-up.
At Amazon India’s headquarters (HQs) at the World Trade Centre in Bengaluru, the atmosphere in the ‘war room’ is electric.
Employees of the American e-commerce firm get ready to lift the curtains on the Great Indian Festival (GIF).
War rooms are equipped with gourmet food, snacks, energy drinks, and bean bags for employees to kick back and collaborate.
There is a truck festooned with faerie lights.
It is actually a photo booth to liven up the workplace.
Amazon has been preparing for the sale event for 10 months.
“The India leadership team, including vice-president and country manager of its India consumer business Manish Tiwary, is holed up here and closely monitoring the preparations,” says a company insider.
Tens and thousands of associates and partners across Amazon’s fulfillment centres, sortation centres, and delivery stations in the country are preparing for the GIF.
Amazon India has over 60 fulfillment centres, sortation centres across 19 states, and over 1,850 Amazon-owned partner stations, along with 28,000 ‘I Have Space’ partners and thousands of Amazon Flex delivery partners.
The teams at the fulfillment centres have access to bespoke T-shirts, Amazon Radio, and food at the cafeteria.
Also, for employees across India, Amazon has set up weekly contests and quizzes, along with fun engagements.
Some 30 kilometres away from Amazon’s main office in Bengaluru, at the HQs of Walmart-owned Flipkart on Outer Ring Road, a music band has been invited to cheer up employees as they roll up their sleeves for The Big Billion Days (TBBD) festival sale.
There has been a special anthem created for this year’s TBBD to raise employee morale.
The pantries are fully stocked and there are kiosks with food from around the world to keep the staff energised.
Cots have been procured for the Bengaluru campus for employees to take a power nap.
Employees are collaborating to conceptualise and iron out kinks, if any.
They will be viewing dashboards to get real-time insights into business performance.
The aim is to monitor the progress and handle any thorn in the flesh.
For this, they are being allotted war rooms.
“Top Flipkart executives, including chief executive officer Kalyan Krishnamurthy, are here to motivate employees, monitor progress closely, and draw up strategies,” says a company insider.
According to sources, Flipkart has been preparing for almost 12 months for this year’s TBBD.
Thousands of employees across the corporate office, along with its supply-chain employees and partners, worked together to bring the TBBD event this year. Krishnamurthy has added 50,000 additional seasonal workers to the supply chain.
To support its corporate office employees during the event, Flipkart is conducting wellness sessions multiple times a day.
There are music sessions, game shows, and stand-up comedy events for fun and engagement, along with tête-à-têtes with the Flipkart leadership.
E-commerce retailers, led by Amazon and Flipkart, are expected to corner sales worth $11.8 billion this season, comfortably more than double the pre-pandemic figure of $5 billion in 2019, according to a report by consulting firm RedSeer.
This year’s numbers are projected to increase 28 per cent from 2021, which saw festival season sales of about $9.2 billion.
E-commerce firms are also bringing in various technology interventions that will help them handle the scale of business this season and enhance customer experience.
Flipkart is introducing a clutch of new features through design changes on its application (app) to serve customers.
The wholly revamped experience is focused on visual design, ease of navigation, easy discoverability of deals and products, and an immersive and interactive experience with live commerce.
SoftBank-backed internet commerce firm Meesho’s compressed app size of 13.6 megabyte is able to cater to new consumers, with a majority coming from tier 2 cities and beyond.
The company’s focus on both customers and sellers in tier 2-plus markets makes it crucial for the app to function on low-specification devices.
Amazon has also launched the Amazon Metaworld – a metaverse of digital experiences in various cities.
Customers, as well as Amazon employees, can walk into physical experience centres where they create their virtual avatars, strap on a virtual reality headset, compete with others, collect points, win goodies, and meet social media influencers.
Employees at Flipkart’s headquarters in Bengaluru sport traditional attire as hey prepare for the upcoming festive season and the The Big Billion DaysEmployees at Flipkart’s headquarters in Bengaluru sport traditional attire as hey prepare for the upcoming festive season and the The Big Billion Days.
War rooms equipped with gourmet food, snacks, energy drinks, tea/coffee and bean bags
‘AmazonMetaworld’ — a metaverse of digital experiences for employees and customers
Office pick-up and drop service
Teams at fulfilment centres with customised T-shirts
Music played on Amazon Radio
Cots procured for Bengaluru campus for employees to rest
Fully-stocked pantry; kiosks with food from around the world
Wellness sessions multiple times a day
Music sessions, game shows, stand-up comedy events for employees
Employees sporting TBBD T-shirts
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