The next time you try buying a smartphone in a flash sale, it may be worth seeing how you can harness their fast purchasing strategies
India’s techies are programming scripts that help tech-savvy users automatically create accounts and buy products on e-commerce websites during flash sales of hot selling smartphones.
Many brands like Xiaomi and LeEco are available only online with no significant offline sales outlets, and coveted phone models are typically sold out within seconds. Another Chinese phone maker Meizu is selling its phones through online flash sales in India.
“We have seen that such scripts make multiple accounts and book several phones together, while others get left out during the flash sale,” Madhavi Das, director of commerce at LeEco India tells Tech in Asia. The phone maker also launched its own online store Lemall in India this week.
“We along with our partners (which includes Flipkart) have developed solutions to block such scripts to let other users buy our phones,” she adds.
Typically, e-commerce stores allow a purchase of only one phone per order. But such scripts can help order the phone multiple times within few seconds.
LeEco sold 70,000 units of its flagship smartphone Le 1S in just two seconds on Flipkart in February this year in its first flash sale.
Its bigger competitor Xiaomi has also been holding flash sales online. Xiaomi is aware of the problem but not too worried.
“It’s a good problem to have. This only shows the hyper demand for our products in India,” said Jai Mani, product manager at Xiaomi in India. “We have to increase our supply to match demand,” he adds.
OnePlus is also likely to hold a flash sale on Amazon to launch its new OnePlus 3 phone this month.
Flash sale tricks
Due to the huge demand and short supply of popular smartphones, an ample number of websites have cropped up that help Indian buyers bypass the flash sale criterion of one phone per user account – but you need to know how to use them, and bring a certain level of technical sophistication.
Lay users, who try to do it all by hand, miss out. By the time most users add a product to the cart and checkout, the product is already sold out.
There are also apps such as Flash Sale Helper that connect with your Flipkart or Amazon account.
Companies like Flipkart have disabled logging into their app through Flash Sale Helper. Amazon, it seems, still allows login through the flash sale app.
The website flashsaletricks keeps a tab on all ongoing flash sales across major Indian commerce sites or Xiaomi’s own store, and prepares you a cart even before the sale begins.
How these tricks help gray trade
If you visit sites such as Olx and Quikr, you can find dozens of sellers re-selling Xiaomi, Meizu, and Micromax phones, which are otherwise sold out.
Tech in Asia found at least six sellers on those sites who were peddling Xiaomi phones at a premium in Delhi.
One vendor, Delhi-based Sonu Yadav, stocks dozens of newly packed phones which they sell at a 20 percent premium. Buyers who aren’t tech savvy end up buying from this market, as most of these phones are not available in offline stores.
Another vendor is Rajiv Jain, a chartered accountant by profession and techie by hobby. He says he has been doing business this way in the past two years.
“I have sold at least 1,000 such phones in past year alone,” he says. He charges $40 as premium on a Redmi Note 3 phone which costs just about $150.
Clearly, the Chinese mobile phone makers are not complaining in India, where their phones are getting off the online shelves within seconds.
Editing by Nadine Frieschlad and Meghna Rao
This post was originally published on Tech in Asia.