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1.5M shopped on Flipkart's Big Billion Day sale; founders apologise to others for SNAFU

India's largest e-commerce company Flipkart, which received widespread criticism for crashing website, products being out of stock and puffed-up discounts being offered on its 'Big Billion Day' sale early this week, has tendered an apology to its customers for failing to live up to its promise. In a note on its website and emails to registered users, Flipkart co-founders Sachin and Binny Bansal acknowledged that the firm was not adequately prepared for the mega sale event and didn't source enough products and deals in advance to cater to the consumers' requirements.

They even admitted that the pricing of several products got changed to their non-discounted rates for a few hours, implicitly acknowledging that the prices of some items were inflated and discounted back as noticed by several consumers.

The full version of the communication reads:

Dear Customer,

Yesterday (October 6) 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

 â€‹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 5,000 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

Flipkart claims that it got a billion hits during the course of the day, and achieved its 24-hour sales target of $100 million in gross merchandise value (GMV) in just 10 hours on the Big Billion Day sale.

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