“You, too, Flipkart?” was the response of a disgruntled online shopper, who failed to grab a Moto G smartphone that made its debut in the Indian market through the e-tailer on Friday.

Flipkart tied up exclusively with phone-maker Motorola for the launch of Moto G in India, but the phone apparently went out of stock within just 10 minutes of its launch, leaving many shoppers unhappy.

Several of them accused Flipkart of creating a hype around the launch to attract more customers. A few felt that the company is still not well-prepared to handle the logistics involved in such mega launches.

Sachin Bansal, co-founder and CEO of Flipkart, however, said the high demand for the Moto G was “beyond our expectations”.

“We have sold out the 16 GB model within minutes of the launch and the 8 GB model is also doing phenomenally well. The traffic we see on our site after the launch has exceeded what we experienced during the Diwali sales,” he said.

“We have invested in bringing the Moto G to all our customers who have been waiting for it and are working with Motorola to make sure we can meet the demand.” .

Business Line spoke to several ecommerce players to understand the situation. Flipkart is likely the first Indian ecommerce company to do a web-first launch in the mobile category. Jabong.com does it quite often with global premium and luxury brands, but has never had its website coming crashing down as these are apparels and related products. However, most players felt these are initial teething problems and online companies will learn from their mistakes.

Manu Jain, ex-Managing Director, Jabong, said it is too early to compare the capabilities of Indian companies with their global counterparts. Citing an example of Chinese mobile maker Xiaomi, Jain said the company launches all its products exclusively online and that is wiped out within 2 minutes. Xiaomi makes competitively priced devices.

Apurv Bansal, an IIT-Delhi alumnus and founder of wishpicker.com, said the whole episode has been a win for Flipkart. Most people didn't know about Moto G being exclusively available on Flipkart until the controversy broke out. This might just have been a clever marketing ploy by Flipkart, he said.

“Even if it was an underestimation of demand, they have tackled it quite well. The product was back 'in stock' this morning, and twitter has been going crazy about it. It is a classic case of artificial scarcity.”

(This article was published on February 7, 2014)
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