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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Big Billion Day by Flipkart.com

Flipkart.com announced Big Billion Day sale on 6th Oct 2014.  What followed is known to most of us. FK sent a letter of apology to all its customers.  The letter is reproduced here at the end of this post.  I am posting my reply in response to their letter which is here:

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Dear Sachin & Binny

I am really delighted getting this mail from you. This is what I was expecting when I kept receiving many messages through my FB page and twitter handle, about the unfortunate experiences of many customers, especially through my students. Some of them called Flipkart ... a FakeKart. Believe me I felt hurt as I have been experiencing excellent services by Flipkart ever since you started operations. The gesture of admission and sense of humility that your mail portrays, shall help you grow better when we look at long term perspective for the firm as a whole. 

I have been using FK for last many years, rather from the very initial time when you started your operation. Initially my focus was books and you supplied them at your best capability and beyond my expectations so far as delivery time is concerned. That helped me spread the word to my colleagues, friends and students and FK became my friend in need. As a teacher of Strategy to my masters students, the case of FK came very handy and my rich collection of news and articles published in different magazines and periodicals about FK including many interviews of both of you helped me understand your company, commitment, and concern. 

The entry of Amazon provided you with unprecedented competition and I think you have done remarkable well in order to maintain your market share and expanding the size of the pie. For the customers there can not be a better time than this. And their expectations are really high and that is a greater challenge that you are posed with and you know you have the ability and competence to converting this challenge into an opportunity.

I read some people calling you both as ALIBABAs of India and even sometime Jeff Bezos of India. I do not think that you identities can be compared.

I shall look forward for your recovery and reconciliation with bright colors and hope that FK shall toil hard to become a Great company in the real sense of the term as Jim Collins put it (Good to Great) and honest spirit of Humility shall make both of you Level 5 Leader. Good luck.

best wishes

vijay

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The copy of the letter sent by Flipkart on 7th Oct 2014, to all its customers

Dear Customer,

Yesterday was a big day for us. And we really wanted it to be a great day for you. But at the end of the day, we know that your experience was less than pleasant. We did not live up to the promises we made and for that we are really and truly sorry.

It took enormous effort from everyone at Flipkart, many months of preparation and pushing our capabilities and systems to the limit to be able to create this day. We were looking at fulfilling the dreams of millions of Indian consumers through deals and offers we had painstakingly put together for months.

And though we saw unprecedented interest in our products and traffic like never before, we also realized that we were not adequately prepared for the sheer scale of the event. We didn't source enough products and deals in advance to cater to your requirements. To add to this, the load on our server led to intermittent outages, further impacting your shopping experience on our site.

An unprecedented 1.5 million people shopped at Flipkart yesterday. While we stand humbled by the sheer faith that such a large number of customers have shown in us, we are unhappy that we were unable to live up to the expectations of millions more who wanted to buy from us yesterday.

And this is not acceptable to us.

Delighting you, and every single one of our customers, is absolutely the top most priority for Flipkart and we have worked very hard over the last seven years to earn your trust. Yesterday, we failed that trust. We have learnt some valuable lessons from this and have started working doubly hard to address all the issues that cropped up during this sale.

Price Changes As we were preparing various deals and promotional pricing in the lead up to the sale, the pricing of several products got ​changed to their non-discounted rates for a few hours​. We realise that this breaks the trust our customers have put in us. We are truly sorry for this and will ensure that this never happens again.

Out-of-stock Issues We ran out of the stock for many products within a few minutes (and in some cases, seconds) of the sale going live. For example, most of our special deals were sold out as soon as they went live. We had ensured availability, anywhere from hundreds to a few lakh units for various products, but it was nowhere near the actual demand. We promise to plan much better for future promotions and ensure that we minimise the out-of-stock issues.

Cancellations We had large number of people buying specific products simultaneously. This led to some instances of an order getting over-booked for a product that was sold out just a few seconds ago. We are working round-the-clock to ensure availability of additional units for these products and will do our level best to ensure that we minimise any cancellations.

Website Issues ​We realise that the shopping experience for many of you was frustrating due to errors and unavailability of the website at times. We had deployed nearly 5000 servers and had prepared for 20 times the traffic growth - but the volume of traffic at different times of the day was much higher than this. We are continuing to significantly scale up all our back end systems so that we do a much, much better job next time.

Everything that we have achieved at Flipkart is purely on the basis of our customer's trust and faith. This is why we come to work each day and continue to remain extremely passionate about building the best possible customer experience for Indian consumers. We failed to live up to this promise yesterday and would like to apologise once again to every single customer for our failure.

Thank you.

Sachin and Binny
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