How to enjoy greater sales from the Diwali shopping season

9 min read
Brian Pereira

India, with its diverse cultures, has many festivals that run throughout the year. The October to December period has a string of festivals celebrated across the country, the biggest one being Diwali. As a small business owner, how do you compete with the eCommerce giants during the lucrative sales season? In this post, we’ll discuss ways you can enjoy greater sales during the Diwali shopping season.

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4 ways to increase sales

Diwali is the top shopping season of the year, one that nearly everyone looks forward to. Here are four ways to make the most of the excitement.

  1. Sell top brands.

  2. Personalisation.

  3. Value for money.

  4. Make an unbelievable offer.

Before we detail our suggestions, let us first address who shops online in India. Then keep reading for ways to prepare your website for the season, as well as tips for selling groceries and handicrafts.

Who shops online?

In order to sell more in any season, you must first understand who is most likely to buy from you. Every merchant who sells goods online wants to know who are the ones buying their goods, and how much time do they spend shopping online. Other demographics such as location, browser, device and income group are also sought.

A recent survey found that 72 percent of working millennials shop online.

Diwali Shopping Millennial Man
Millennials are leading the move to primarily online shopping.
Photo: Timothy Choy on Unsplash

The next biggest segment is housewives — 63 percent shop online, while 29 percent shop in a mall. Not far behind is a segment that includes student/unemployed/freshers. Among this group, 58 percent shop online and 21 percent shop in a mall.

The biggest shoppers (across all segments) for both online and offline, are those with a monthly income above Rs 50,000. That is followed by those earning between Rs 20,000 and 50,000.

Tips for reaching millennials and housewives

So now we know who does the lion’s share of online shopping: working millennials and housewives. Here are some tips to reach out to both segments in your Diwali shopping campaigns.

1. Sell top brands

Millennials are highly brand-conscious. So make sure your site plays up the top brands you offer and give good discounts on these branded products.

I notice that some eCommerce sites have separate landing pages devoted to specific brands. For instance, a consumer electronics company such as Bose or Sony or JBL might want to have a dedicated page and link on your eCommerce website. The benefit to the brand-conscious shopper is that it’s easy to view all their options in one place.

2. Personalisation

Millennials want a degree of exclusivity in products. For instance, a shopper might want a name or quote or certain pattern imprinted on a MacBook protective case.

The more options you can offer, the more appealing your products will be to millennials.

Personalisation is about having a unique identity and standing out. It portrays intelligence and class of an individual. Ask your vendors what degree of personalization can they offer for their products sold on your website.

3. Value for money

Millennials are a working class and they want to see full value for every Rupee spent. You have to convey that you are offering a lot of value — and that does not mean discounting alone.

There are many ways of providing value, for example:

  • Free shipping.
  • Next day/guaranteed delivery dates.
  • Free returns.
  • Local pickup.
  • Insurance for expensive products.
  • Free screen replacements for mobile phones.

In India, cash-back schemes and easy EMI (Equated Monthly Installment) payments are highly popular with online shoppers. You can partner with bank and credit card companies to offer these schemes.

4. Make an unbelievable offer

Women are never in a hurry to buy. They will look for the same product in at least three different places and make notes. They weigh the pros and cons of each option before deciding. So go ahead and make an unbelievable offer. Ask them to refer the product to others, and incentivize them for doing so.

How to create discounts and offers

There are a couple of ways to offer discounts and special pricing. The trick is to get the shopper to buy more to get a higher discount. At the same time, you want to ensure that your margins are not impacted (learn how discount pricing works here).

Diwali Shopping Lights
Diwali is a perfect time to offer discounts and special deals, as shoppers are looking for them.
Photo: Animesh Basnet on Unsplash

Here are some popular options:

Buy one get one free: This works very well in India. In fact, I have seen retail showrooms announcing ‘Buy two shirts get three more free.’

Gift coupons and promotional codes: Reward customers with coupons and promo codes that they can redeem for savings on future purchases.

Discounts from credit cards or banks: Work out a deal with a bank. For instance, if you shop with your State Bank of India card on you get a 10 percent discount. And if you use an HDFC Bank or Citibank card on Amazon India, there are cash back rewards.

Premium membership: You can also create special offers and discount schemes through a premium membership program on your site. This is where members pay a fee to get offers and discounts not available to non-members.

Zero percent processing fee and interest-free EMI: These schemes are popular in India, especially among the working class. Work out special payment schedules with finance companies such as Bajaj Finance to reduce the interest and do away with the initial processing fees.

Happy hours: Offer extra savings during a fixed time of the day. For instance, you could announce a midnight to dawn sale over the weekend and offer 22 percent discount on select items.

Use convincing slogans that build trust to announce these offers, such as ‘Here’s Rs 300 on us, but only if you shop at midnight.’

Prepare your shopping website for the festive sales

Now that you are aware of who shops online and how to tempt them with customized offers, you should also be preparing your website for peak Diwali shopping sales and a spike in transactions during the festive season. Here are some things to address:

Festive look

Give your web pages a festive look. That means you’ll need to add new banner ads, links to the special offers and decorate your site just like you would decorate your home for a festival. Be sure to keep the designs consistent with all the other marketing collateral, such as the any mailers you will be sending — or the ads that will appear in newspapers.

Related: 7 places to find royalty free images

Add new sections

You might need to add new pages for special festive offers and new products being launched during Diwali. Some vendors launch new models of their products during Diwali.

Scale up infrastructure

Visits to eCommerce sites peak during Diwali and other festive seasons, especially if the site announces a special sale day in advance. So be sure to inform your hosting provider that you’ll likely need to increase resources such as compute, storage and bandwidth.

As the number of visitors and transactions on your website increases, the speed of your website slows down.

It can be a frustrating experience for visitors to wait for pages to appear on their screens. They might get impatient and abandon their shopping plans on your site. So you don’t want that to happen.

Optimize the checkout

It’s crucial to make the checkout experience easy and smooth. If it’s not, visitors will abandon their carts and leave your eCommerce site without purchasing. Show the steps and the progress, allowing one to go back and add more items to the cart at any stage, or to remove items from the cart.

Pro tip: It’s a good idea to have a guest checkout option, so that first-time visitors to your site are not forced to create an account before making a purchase. This is a proven way to increase sales.

Stock up your inventory

Make sure you have enough quantities of products in your inventory. Go through transaction histories and you will be able to predict which products are in demand. Stock more of those items.

There is a nice article to read here that offers more on how you should prepare your site for the festive shopping season.

Tips for selling groceries and handicrafts

Diwali Shopping Millennial Shoppers
There is rising interest in handicrafts, art and ethnic wear in India.
Photo: Jyotirmoy Gupta on Unsplash

New categories like groceries and handicrafts are becoming popular. In fact, the spirit of entrepreneurship is thriving in India’s tier-two and tier-three towns, with more entrepreneurs selling handicrafts, art and ethnic wear online. So websites selling these items are mushrooming.

Amazon India is diversifying into groceries, and that is a strong indicator of the trend.

Groceries have a short shelf life, so you need to take care when selling these items on your site. You also have to win the customer’s trust, so:

  • Make sure you have enough distribution centres that are not too far off from residential areas.
  • Ensure that items remain fresh and well-preserved. Temperature and moisture regulation is essential — both in storage and also while the groceries are in transit to the customer.
  • Keep a close eye on the inventory, to make sure groceries are not stocked in your warehouse or distribution centre for too long.
  • Be prepared to take back items customers might not be satisfied with, or offer free replacements for damaged groceries.

Handicrafts are delicate items and could get damaged during delivery. So make sure these are packed well. Take care to wrap glass items in bubble wrap. Look out for sharp edges in metallic frames and pointy tips in rods. Moisture can also ruin handicraft items, so do put in pouches of silica gel to absorb moisture.

Increase Diwali shopping this season

Online retailers anticipate bumper Diwali shopping sales again this year. They are preparing their inventory, lining up new marketing campaigns and thinking about offering bigger discounts. All this is good news for Indian consumers, who look forward to these sales and make their shopping lists in advance.

This is also an excellent opportunity for ambitious businesspersons, as selling online can generate high sales volumes. The internet lets a business sell its goods across India and even across the world. By using the tips outlined here, you can position your business to join in the rewards of the season.

This Diwali shopping post was originally published on 20 November, 2018 and was updated on 15 October, 2019.

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