[Guest post contributed by Sudarshan Gangrade, head of analytics at Hoopos.com. Hoopos was one of the participating companies at the GOSF (Great Online Shopping Festival) and has great suggestions for Google India GOSF team.]
Whether GOSF was a success or a let-down depends on who you are talking to. GOSF might have got some flak for the quality of deals offered by some leading players, but they did manage to drive great traffic, and we did clock our best ever sales in terms of volume and value (by a large margin).
While Google was holding the platform together, the objective of the exercise was for the E-Commerce industry as a whole to come together and offer something that brought interest and focus to the online space. This would help drive the offline customers to try buying online.
While GOSF was successful to a large extent in garnering eyeballs and drawing converts to e-shopping, it did have a few slips too. We feel some of the concerns below, if addressed, could really take the GOSF to the next level in its next run.
1. Landing page never took off
There were multiple issues in the basic design of the landing page of gosf.in. The deals could have been more easily accessible (there was just a small tab on top), could have been more user-friendly with search functionality etc. Even the youtube masthead slot machine ad could have been better suited for driving traffic.
2. Quantity vs Quality
The filters given by Google had limited use. Take for example, a niche category like baby care products where you ended up having almost 18-20 players showing up, even though only a handful had baby products specific deals.
While having many options is good from the customer’s perspective (choice), it went overboard in terms of creating clutter, good deals getting missed out in the multiple diluted deals. For the players too, this reduced the share of traffic drastically, in turn reducing our scale of reach. With the Citibank initiative, we got a greater share of their traffic, which reflected in the huge numbers in spite of the smaller, yet more focused scale of the activity.
3. Good deals Vs wow deals
While there was a lot of hype surrounding this event, Google did not insist on partners working out exclusive deals for the day. Though it might have been difficult to enforce the same, putting pressure on partners might have helped them realise the importance of this event. From the partners perspective, we should have come together to give something that would have created a WOW!
4. Lack of offline marketing
Except radio, Google appears to have just focused on the existing online traffic for transactions. Somewhere that was a big opportunity lost, since some deals were exciting enough to have got many offline consumers to try this once online.
In comparison, we think the well laid-out, catchy print ads in the case of the Citibank offer, went a long way in spreading the communication and drawing new customers.
When we heard about GOSF, (and also the Citibank initiative earlier), we realised that even for a company of our scale, we could really leverage these initiatives in a big way. We went to our suppliers and spoke to the brands of exclusive products, trying to work out good deals and freebies for the day. While we were enthusiastic, brands were less so because of the lukewarm response that they had received from other ecommerce websites. This could be a reason why partner sites were forced to come up with generic deals at the last minute.
2. Not seeing it as an Industry branding initiative
Unfortunately partners were focused only on quantum of sales in the day. The event however was aimed to serve a bigger purpose of creating a platform to showcase ecommerce as an alternative to offline. And that was why putting the right deals was important, if nothing to get word of mouth publicity. Even a well laid out landing page where customers could easily see, understand and use the discounts available was sadly missing in most websites.
Having said all that, even niche players like us ended up benefiting tremendously in spite of some faux pas. This was in part due to the special landing page designed by us and the exclusive GOSF only deals created at a brand level. This reflected in the super-high conversion rates we got from GOSF traffic (one would think there would be a lot of noise there, but the quality of deals was an indication of the conversion we got).
We do have Google to thank for bringing this together and spending what they did to drive traffic. We as an industry ought to realise that such events go a long way in promoting the business of ecommerce and driving traffic. Here’s looking forward to a bigger and better GOSF 2.