Citibank plans 'Cyber Monday' like e-shopping sale in India

Citibank plans 'Cyber Monday' like e-shopping sale in India New Delhi: India may soon have its own version of 'Cyber Monday', when billion-dollar worth products are sold online at heavy discounts within a day, with Citibank planning a similar mega e-shopping sale this week in India.

Although restricted to Citibank's customers, it would provide discounts of up to 60 percent across various product categories on 17 well-known internet shopping platforms within a time frame of 24 hours on Wednesday, December 5 -- making it the country's first-ever 'Cyber Sunday' event.

First coined in 2005 as a marketing term by online retailers for the Monday coming after 'Black Friday', which itself is the name for Friday after Thanksgiving in the US, the 'Cyber Monday' has become a phenomenon over the years.

With rising popularity, the 'Cyber Mondays' have recorded billion-dollar sales during the past four years.

Announcing the launch of its own one-day online mega sale, Citibank said it is yet to decide whether it would follow the annual 'Cyber Monday' model when it comes to the frequency of the event and the dynamics of the Indian market might require it to be conducted at least twice a year.

Citibank said it aims to promote e-commerce by bringing together leading ecommerce players on one platform on the day through this event, named 'OMG! Sale'.

Although the December 5 event would be limited to its own credit and debit cardholders, Citibank India Chief Marketing Officer Sanjeev Kapur told PTI that other players might also replicate the model and Citi is also open to joining hands with other like-minded partners as well in this initiative.

"There would certainly be other players, either banks or other institutions who may want to replicate it. We will not be surprised if other players replicate the concept either wholly or in part.

"If we get like-minded professionals and entrepreneurs who are agnostic to the market and do not have any specific agenda other than growing the online b2c commerce market and would like to partner with us to strengthen this platform for our customers, we will certainly consider it with an open mind.

"Consequently, if a media partner or a large group approaches us to make this proposition even bigger, we would be very happy to evaluate it, as our intention is to grow this market and proliferate the online commerce value proposition within the industry and consumers alike," he said.

Asked about how much time it would take a culture similar to 'Cyber Monday' to develop in India, Kapur said that the growth could be much faster here as compared to the US and other Western markets, as has been the trend in adoption of other technology-related markets like mobile phones.

Muge Yuzuak, Managing Director & Head of Payments at Citibank India said that 2-3 years would be a good time line.

"I believe 2-3 years would be a good timeframe, maybe two years on the earlier side, keeping in mind the way things are changing. But 2-3 years timeframe would be the right thing to say. Also, it is a good thing if others replicate it to grow the market and competition is always welcome. Giving consumers choice, helps us strengthen our value proposition," she said.

Citibank said that the discounts on 'OMG! Sale' will average around 30 percent and extend up to 60 percent.

"Market research also indicates e-tailing in India is growing faster than any other Asia Pacific market with consumers becoming more discerning and demanding better deals. Encouraged by these early growth patterns, we believe market-first initiatives such as the 'OMG! Sale' will help promote e-tailing in India," Yuzuak said.

The event would allow Citi cardholders to buy products across electronics, apparel, high-end lifestyle, travel, baby care, gifts, wellness, home decoration and furniture.

Citi has tied up with 17 websites -- indiatimes.Com, ebay.In, snapdeal.Com, indiaplaza.Com, zoomin.Com, yebhi.Com, zovi.Com, excluzen.Com, highstreet labels.Com, goibibo.Com, babyoye.Com, firstcry.Com, hoopos.Com, indiangiftsportal.Com, goodlife.Com, pepperfry.Com and myntra.Com.

"We will be leveraging micro-blogging sites, mobile advertising and driving viral content on social platforms to engage with our digitally savvy customers," Kapur said.

"Based on the interest it generates, we intend to make it a periodic affair. We have not yet decided the frequency of the offer, but we expect it to definitely be a regular feature going forward," he said.

Asked whether it could an annual affair like Cyber Monday, he said Cyber Monday takes place annually because it is linked to one single 'Black Friday'.

"Since the concept is fairly nascent and new in our market, it may require us to hold it at least twice a year. Ideally, we would not want to restrict it to being an annual event at this early stage of development. Having said that, we intend to calendarise this event, so going forward the market and our customers know when to expect it during the year and hopefully look forward to some deep and meaningful discounts," he said.

On the time-frame for a culture similar to Cyber Monday to develop in India, Kapur said that most of the technology-related trends in emerging markets have always jump-started and have not exactly gone the way of the western markets.

He further said that the initiative was not just about growing the bank's sales.

"It is about building a new culture. We have been a pioneer in bringing new products, new value propositions to our customers. We want them to experience a whole new world of e-commerce where they also get great value. If we are able to multiply our sales in the process, then it would be an added advantage, but it is not the most important driver for us at this point in time, "he added.

Citi is one of the leading issuers of credit card in India with about 2.3 million cards currently in force. Citi accounts for 20 percent of total credit card spending in the country and the average spend on Citi cards is more than double the industry average.

PTI