In a post on the Official Google Indian Blog, Nitin Bawankule, Industry Director (E-commerce, Local & Classified) of Google India wrote, “There were many learnings for us and the Industry on the whole but the time has come for us to bid adieu to the Great Online Shopping Festival. We will continue to invest in initiatives to empower small and medium businesses and work along with the Industry to make Internet a growth engine for the country.”
The GOSF was initiated by Google back in 2012 after partnering with a number of small and large e-retailers across the country. Over the next two years, the concept grew in size and popularity with more than 550 partners and traffic of 14 million in 2014. Traffic to partner websites and apps grew around 4-5 times in 2014, according to some retailers we spoke with back then.
“In addition to helping large e-commerce players get massive transactions, GOSF served as a great platform for hundreds of small and medium businesses to find customers across India. Many small and medium e-commerce portals used GOSF as a launch platform and saw phenomenal growth in sales and some of them today are well established online shopping destinations,” wrote Bawankule.
There has been no clear explanation by Google about why it wants to discontinue GOSF. Over the past three years, GOSF has emerged as one of the most anticipated online shopping events in the country, especially for the smaller e-commerce players so it remains to be seen how its absence will be felt by the ecosystem. Most of the established players have their own, well-publicized shopping festivals in this period but not all players have the ability to spend Rs 4-5 crore on a single campaign.
Sameer Parwani, CEO of CouponDunia, agreed that smaller players will take a hit.
But, according to him, the sheer magnitude of partners that GOSF had (550 last year), created a scene where most players were getting a marginal increase but not all were getting a major increase in terms of traffic and revenue.
Abhinav Choudhary, Co-founder at Smartprix.com, called the news “unprecedented”. “We were waiting for it to become larger than ever this year, GOSF was beneficial for users and e-commerce sites both as users were getting best deals and e-commerce stores were getting more customers,” he told us.
Meanwhile, other parties have not let the grass grow under their feet. Facebook partnered with Dentsu Aegis Network to launch ‘India Celebrates just last week, which is a new property around the lines of GOSF. As of right now, Shopclues has been confirmed as one of the sponsors though a source familiar with developments said that they are looking for 6 partners in all. Club Mahindra, Edelweiss and Bridgestone are some of the other partners on board as of now.
GroupM is also preparing to launch the second edition of its Grand Diwali Mela in association with Askmebazaar and Google. On top of this, most of the big brands like Flipkart, Amazon and Jabong have their own individual festivals. In fact, this saturation of shopping festivals could have been one reason why Google decided to scrap GOSF.
“The charm of GOSF was in exclusive deals over that period but with e-commerce players starting their own shopping festivals, the better deals would obviously be reserved for their own festivals. GOSF was thus in the danger of becoming repetitive, so I can understand the rationale behind discontinuing it,” opined Swati Bhargava, Co-founder at Cashkaro.com.
Bhargava agreed that smaller retailers might feel the pinch of GOSF shutting down but was adamant that they would get opportunities to partner with other festivals. She said that Cashkaro is also looking at developing its own property ‘Great Online Cash Back Festival’, as well as looking out for new opportunities.