How Analytics and Hybrid Cloud could have saved Flipkart ‘Big Billion Monday’

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By Zia Askari

As Flipkart, one of the biggest online commerce success stories from India – targeted its user base to shop online and become a part of its “Big Billion Day” celebrations – the site was not able to handle the traffic and went down for a while on October 6th, 2014.

In such a scenario, implication of Analytics could have helped the online commerce giant to generate better predictability patterns and gain better control over “out of stock” instances, while incorporating hybrid cloud infrastructure could have given it the much needed business agility by utilizing additional computing, storage resources and maintaining its website availability to its users.

Hybrid Cloud can provide a retail enterprise such as Flipkart, better managed business agility to utilize, private as well as public cloud infrastructure so that the website experience is seamless for the end user, especially when there is huge traffic on special occasions such as Diwali or Christmas time.

On the other hand, Flipkart users received this apology on October 7th from Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, the duo who have co-founded this venture. “We did not live up to the promises we made and for that we are really and truly sorry. 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,” they explained.

Further on, according to the apology letter, an unprecedented 1.5 million people shopped at Flipkart on Monday, 6th October. 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.

“We realise that the shopping experience 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,” the apology letter continued.

Assocham Predicted Rise in Online Shopping

On the other hand, it is important to note that Assocham had already predicted that the festive season is set to trigger huge rise in online shopping up by almost 350%. However, this prediction did little good, in the case of Flipkart.

Online shopping may increase by 350% during Diwali as against the jump of 200% in August-September as a result shopping malls have started feeling jittery as the footfalls in malls is likely to go down by 50-55%, revealed the ASSOCHAM survey.

ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr. D S Rawat said, “whole new audience is connected 24×7 through their smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices which is leading to a gradual evolution of e-commerce into mobile commerce”. Assocham Plays Down Flipkart Failure
Playing down the Flipkart incident, Assocham has said that the Flipkart incident resulting in inconvenience to enthusiastic customers on the Diwali offer should be taken at the most as one-off case and let it not be used as a ploy or an ammunition to subject the fledgling and a hugely promising e-commerce space to regulation over and above the rules of the game which are applicable to normal business, the ASSOCHAM said.

“After the promoters of the company have expressed regrets and have assured customers to address the technical issues that may not have been expected to crop up, the matter should rest here. To suspect a mala fide on the part of Flipkart or to paint the entire e-commerce business with a brush of doubts will be wrong. If at all any regulatory issue is involved, let it be dealt within the existing laws concerning interests of the consumers,” ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said in a statement.

Conclusion

There is no doubt about the power of eCommerce and greater prominence of websites such as Flipkart, however, end user experience and interest needs to be kept in mind and most importantly available technology that provides ‘cost-effective’ scale and end user behavioral predictability, needs to be closely knitted in their backend so that such incidents be avoided in the near future.


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