Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart’s Flipkart are locking horns this Diwali season as both online retail giants fight for a bigger share in India’s $1 trillion retail markets.

This is a unique Diwali shopping season from previous years, coming off from two pandemic outbreaks and pushing India’s quarantined, shopping-hungry millions to enjoy the steep discounts on diverse products, from smartphones to sports equipment to appliances, and food. It also marks the first year that online sales are expected to start skyrocketing as Forrester Research estimates transactions to break 42% to $9.2 billion this season. 

Mobile Marketing Association projects the number of online shoppers to reach about half a billion by 2030. Whichever retail giant emerges in 2021’s Diwali season could reign supreme in the long term.

To serve the deluge of customers, the two companies are scrambling to augment their workforce in warehouses and delivery hubs. Flipkart alone hired 115,000 personnel this sales season, a huge jump from 70,000 in 2020 and 50,000 in 2019. Other radical methods to boost human resources, such as the all-women cohorts, are creating new career doors for the gender. These fundamentals-strengthening measures could bode well for Flipkart as it prepares for its initial public offer, considered one of India’s largest.

The two retail giants could be in for some seriously cutthroat competition in the face of government support for local businesses. Add to this, members of the Confederation of All India Traders are threatening to protest if protective policies are not established.

Despite these potential obstacles, Amazon and Flipkart expect to break records as they accept new sellers and offer jaw-dropping discounts, and as consumers grow more at ease with online shopping. This year, Amazon reports that it approved 60% more sellers in 2020 and recorded a 65% uptick in orders. Flipkart said new sellers grew 55% from last year during its recent Big Billion Days and delivered more than 200,000 iPhone 12 devices.

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