Started in 2012, Google Online Shopping Festival (GOSF) was an Internet-based yearly shopping festival conducted by Google. It was in a way the Indian equivalent of Cyber Monday and Black Friday. The platform was launched by Google to encourage more Indian consumers (especially first-time buyers) shop online, besides serving an opportunity for the smaller or lesser-known Indian e-commerce players to reach out to a wider audience or find new customers across the country. The strategy worked and the number of Indian consumers online rose from 8 million in 2012 to 50 million in 2015, according to Google India.
The event started in 2012 and was usually conducted within the first two weeks of December. Back then, there were no other online shopping festivals for Indian consumers. The 2012 event was a one day event. The second and third GOSF sales were on for three days.
Though GOSF participants had to truncate their profit margins or perhaps even sell products at a loss, the festival helped them connect with the Indian audience and establish trust within them, helping them increase their consumer base. In fact, most firms saw a major jump in their daily sales by over 350 percent during GOSF. The number of retailers joining the festival was increasing every year. The first year saw 90 participants; the second and third year had 240 and 550 retailers onboard, respectively.
2012 GOSF Disappointments
The first GOSF event may have done well for Google and the participating firms, but it miffed most consumers. According to buyers, the promised deals were not to be found. The GOSF site crashed within a few seconds post the sale going online. And once the tech issues were rectified, most of the deals for grabs were not eye-popping. Flipkart’s Big Billion Day sale faced similar issues during its inaugural year. Google India took note of the issues and ensured a much smoother experience in the subsequent events.
GOSF shut its doors indefinitely in 2014. The annual event was discontinued, thanks to the growing popularity of similar sales festivals hosted by Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon such as the Big Billion Day sale. Along with the big Indian e-commerce giants, several other online retailers started doling out discount deals almost on a daily basis, further diluting the importance of GOSF. Moreover, there were also reports of several e-commerce firms not interested in GOSF due to the high participation costs. A GOSF partner had to shell out at a minimum of $2 million on expenses relating to social media, Google Display Network and online videos.
Google India reacted to this stating it expected this massive growth of the Indian e-commerce market and therefore never planned GOSF to be a long-term plan.