Festival sale: Amazon 'War Room' buzz as it makes the first move

‘Amazonians’ brainstorm at a meeting at the World Trade Centre, Bengaluru | Photo: Amazon
It's almost 9.30 pm on Saturday. Manish Tiwary, VP Category Management for Amazon India, has returned jet lagged from a trip to the Seattle headquarters, but he’s all ears to a young team member who has walked up to him with a query.

In snug shoes, a pair of shorts and of course a t-shirt with Amazon’s ‘Great Indian Festival’ logo emblazoned on it, Tiwary, who’s responsible for ensuring every customer gets to buy without a hitch, is all set for the long night ahead.

But even after successfully running festive sales previous years, last minute jitters is something even Tiwary is not able to avoid. “There are things that can go wrong during the ‘spike’, which is at midnight when everyone would be logging in to buy. Pages might take longer to load, a payment gateway might not work smoothly, there are a lot of things that can go wrong, so we keep on double checking systems till the last moment,” he said.

World Trade Centre in Bengaluru, the headquarters of Amazon India, is buzzing with activity. An army of young 20 something coders, techies, donning ‘War room Warrior’ t-shirts stay glued to their laptop screens ensuring all systems are good before the launch of the ‘Great Indian Festival’ at midnight.  

There are as many as 10 war rooms on different floors of the WTC building, keeping a watchful eye on all verticals. More than 50 ‘Amazonians’ are manning each conference room with giant screens, giving second to second updates on sale, while white boards highlight the key numbers. The stamp of Great Indian  Festival is all over like an anthem. Meanwhile,  the leadership keeps flitting from one war room to another to ensure that nothing is out of place. 

Global eyes on the festive sale

So why call a festive sale a war? “Because, war like preparations go into it almost 12 months in advance to ensure that on D-day we give our best to customers,” Tiwary said. For Amazon Global, this sale holds utmost importance as it sets the stage for the ecommerce giant’s international festive calendar.

Not only in India, teams across the globe in Seattle, Singapore, Europe and some other countries are working in tandem to make a success of the ‘Great Indian Festival’. 

“Every year the mandate is to make the sale bigger and better,” said Kishore Thota, Director of Marketing & Customer Experience.

As the India sales set the tone for the season, the action would shift to the US and Europe next for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and New Year’s. 

Teams from other geographies are in constant touch with India and every few hours hold status check meetings to know about the progress.  

This year Thota and his team are keeping a special eye on how Amazon Hindi fares during the sale. The company over the last one year painstakingly worked to ensure that the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) work smoothly. They have now managed to convert into Hindi interface for almost 100 percent of the products available. Language is one of the most important plays for Amazon India to ensure that it reaches out to the next 100 million customers.

Slowdown? What slowdown?

Hours before the beginning of the sale,  Tiwary’s mobile phone keeps ringing with calls from CEOs of various companies, eager to know about the last minute preparations and trying to gauge what they should do to push the sales of their products.

While there is chatter around a slowdown, the number of new product launches, he claims, is at an all time high. Also the festive sale which was opened for ‘Prime Members’ at noon on Saturday showed more than positive response, he claims.  

“I have been in constant touch with sellers, they have not shown any signs of nervousness, in fact they have stocked up and ready for a mega sale. I keep speaking to brands, they are seeing bumper demand for new product launches. We have launched OnePlus television, the price of which is close to a lakh but its selling out. People want to spend if the selection, value proposition and the trust attached to the platform and the product is right,” adds Tiwary.

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