With Amazon launching its India operations, the heat is turned up in the eCommerce space. Amazon had been testing waters through Junglee, so this was quite an expected event. The customers seem to be welcoming the overlords of eCommerce, perhaps eCommerce stores too, albeit less enthusiastically. There is a sudden burst of activity across the bigger players.
We, at DataWeave, collect data across a large number of product categories, including books, on a daily basis. So, we decided to do some analysis once Amazon got into business with books.
We collected data for the top 5000 books from across 10 different eCommerce stores. We looked at analyzing things like: who is giving more discounts, what is the discount “sweet spot” for each major player, what are the popular categories, etc. We noticed some interesting things.
Discount Distributions across Online Stores
The below visualization shows the discount distribution for the top 5000 books across 6 eCommerce portals that sell books in India. We have divided the discounts being offered into 8 buckets. Along with the discount distribution, the visualization also depicts the “sweet spots” each of the online book sellers wants to be in with respect to the discounts being offered on books. The first graphic above shows discount distribution when we don’t consider shipping charges. The second one shows the same when we add shipping charges to the selling price of each book and compute the effective discount.
Some interesting analysis that can be derived out of these visualizations is
One thing that comes out clearly is that shipping charges make a huge impact. When we don’t consider shipping charges, it appears that Flipkart is going aggressive with discounts with a significant portion of the donut covered by the 20–40% range.
But add shipping charges to this, and the donuts (in the second graphic) look very different. This is because Amazon does not charge shipping charges as of now. You will in fact notice that there are a lot of books on Flipkart for which you won’t get any discount once you pay the shipping charges.
Amazon prices a considerable chunk of its books in the 30-40% discount band (second graphic). None of the other sellers have this many books in the 30-40% band. Looks like they are going quite aggressive on customer acquisition by topping off the heavy discounts with free shipping (for now).
Very few books are being offered at no discounts by Amazon. But other sellers like Flipkart, BookAdda, Crossword offer considerable number of books at no discount. In fact, significant portion of these books fall below their minimum order value for free shipping. So, there is a good chance of the shipping charges offsetting the discounts. So, unless you are buying a bunch of books at once, you might end up paying more than the price of the books!
Sweet spots of these sellers when it comes to discounts being offered are:
- Amazon: between 10-40% discount range spread uniformly
Flipkart: between 0-30% discount range spread uniformly
HomeShop18: between 0-30% discount range. But more concentrated on the 10-20% discount range.
BookAdda: about half of them are offered at no discounts. And they have a steep shipping charge (Rs. 60 for orders below Rs.399/-). Good for them, not so much for the customers.
Infibeam: between a 10-30% discount range with more concentration on the 20-30% discount range.
Crossword: Between a 0-10% discount range spread uniformly.
The above visualizations show the below metric: for how many of the top 5000 books is each store the cheapest. Again, if we don’t consider shipping charges, Flipkart still leads the pack. But Amazon again scores high once we include shipping charges. It also does not help the stores charging for shipping that the prices of most of the popular books fall below the stores’ minimum order value for free shipping. Notice how Infibeam fares better when shipping charges are considered than before — this is because Infibeam’s minimum order value (INR 250) as well as shipping charges (INR 30) are well below Flipkart and the others.
Flipkart is probably still selling books at a rapid rate (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=988881816109), but if you are buying a bestseller or a new release, you are better off doing so on either Amazon or HomeShop18. About 70% of Flipkart’s popular books (across categories) are priced below their minimum order value for free shipping. The figures are similar for BookAdda and Crossword.
Amazon and HomeShop18 (along with eBay) do not charge for shipping as of now for orders of any value. Of course, free shipping does apply if you buy multiple books at a time on Flipkart and other stores. But till the time Amazon and others introduce shipping charges, we are likely to see a dip in Flipkart and Infibeam’s book sales.[Edit Note: This post was published on the Dataweave blog.]