As “fictional discount” cases increased during Indonesia’s biggest retail holiday, it is time to reconsider HARBOLNAS’ position in the country’s e-commerce map
Beginning in 2012, in its early day Hari Belanja Online Nasional (HARBOLNAS, The National Online Shopping Day) took steady steps to become Indonesia’s answer to Single’s Day or Black Friday, when customers are treated with crazy discounts from both local and international online retail service providers.
It started off with only a few players who initiated the programme, until it grows into hundreds of players during this year’s event. All of them have the same agenda: to increase the number of transaction in their site within 24-hour in December 12. The idea is to acquire as many new users as possible by giving away discounts, hoping that the new users will be converted into loyal customers with a long lifetime spending.
But unfortunately, HARBOLNAS has changed.
The idea to convert as many offline users as possible has been defeated by the idea to gain as much profit as possible, no matter how they do it. It is certainly important to gain maximum profit, but lately e-commerce players have been using reckless ways to increase transactions. We all have heard about a diaper which costed a hundred million Rupiah (more than US$7,000), being discounted for up to 99 per cent so that it ended up costing almost like the normal price. Or “classic” methods such as selling an iPhone for only IDR99,000 (US$7.4), but reserve only 10 units available for sale, with the hope that customers will be hooked by other discounts for similar products.
Whatever the method that they are using, this phenomenon has become such a bore, and customers have grown tired of being cheated on by these flatteries. Not only that the public has grown tired of it, but it will also create a bad precedent for e-commerce players in general. Unclear discounts, misleading promotions, is this the portrait of the so-called high potential Indonesian e-commerce industry that we are so proud of? Customers have a rather consistent behaviour; when they are satisfied, they will remain quiet. When once they feel dissatisfied, they will start ranting on their social media pages. Like it or not, every complaint made by customers in the media for e-commerce services does not only ruin the image of a certain site, but it also ruin the whole ecosystem.
Believe it or not, my dear friends in the e-commerce sector, GMV is not everything. No matter what Oliver Samwer said back then. It is time for a change, and it is also time to start putting customers first. Conversion Rate (CR) and Lifetime Value (LTV) goes beyond GMV. Stop treating your customers as an enemy to defeat, and start treating them as a friend in need.
Do not let these incidents ruin the image of e-commerce industry in the eyes of the customers, thanks to several players which had scared them away. Let us reconsider again. Will next year’s HARBOLNAS be filled with fictional discounts again, or is it going to really focus on helping customers get the best products with the best services?
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