This Diwali, Boost Retail Sales with Digital and Artificial Intelligence

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By Anil Kaul, Co-Founder and CEO, Absolutdata

Diwali is the festival that celebrates the return of good times after the triumph of good over evil. For companies in India, Diwali is the go to profit festival.  It’s called the Big Indian Festive Season with eye-popping discounts on everything from apparels, accessories, footwear, consumer electronics, household appliances, furniture and even travel.

The reason behind this sudden push in the marketplace is very simple – consumers buy more during the festive period. And when increase in sales is certain then putting the best foot forward is only natural.

Learning from our experience, we have compiled a list of some ‘Must Do’s’ that will not just boost your sales but also help you win happy customers. And ‘happy customers’ means repeat business:

Leverage Social Listening: Social listening is the process of monitoring social media channels for mentions of your brand, competitors, product, and any other ideas or themes that are relevant to your business. The next step is analyzing that information for actionable insights. Those actions can range from engaging a happy customer to shifting your overall brand positioning strategy. It helps companies in:

  • Customer engagement and research: Social listening can give you important insight into what your customers expect from you, and how well you’re delivering on those expectations
  • Identify strategic wins or missteps in real time: Which of your posts are getting the highest engagement combined with the best social sentiment? If social sentiment about your brand abruptly changes one way or the other, you can dig into individual posts to get a sense of what you’ve done so very right—or wrong.
  • Discover how people perceive you in comparison to your competitors: Since you’ll be listening not only to what people are saying about you on social media, but also what they’re saying about your competitors, you’ll get important insights about where you fit in the customer perceptions of your industry. You’ll also get important real-time intelligence about what your competitors are up to, so you can determine how to respond to new threats and opportunities
  • Uncover pain points in your industry that you can be the first to address: By monitoring important keywords related to your industry, you can start to uncover conversations people are having about products, services, and features that aren’t working for them.
  • Find leads that you can develop into relationships for social selling: Those same people might also be leads that you can nurture into relationships for social selling.
  • Identify influencers and advocates: Having a general picture of the social sphere for your industry will give you a sense of who the important influencers are in the industry. These are important people to connect with, as they can have, not surprisingly, a significant amount of influence over how their followers and fans feel about you—or your competitors.

Creative Campaigns: Brands often use this season to promote their sales by coming up with the most creative and innovative ad campaigns. With the fierce competition, it is only natural for them to strive hard to gather the attention of their customers.

  • Offers with a Twist: While everyone else, including the big players, will be doing a ‘special festive sale’, you do the same. But, with a ‘twist’.  Yes – Think Different. Offer your usual discounts and some special ones for the chosen few. For e.g.: ‘This Diwali, we announce a special discount for all shoppers who have their birthdays on the same date’ OR ‘Additional 20% off for shoppers who have all the letters of our brand name in their name (like ‘MYNTRA’ offers the discount to ‘RhYdhiMA TaNdon’)’. This type of innovation combined with the festive offers will not only help you carve a niche for your brand but also increase the brand recall for the plain ‘quirkiness’.
  • Social Media Contests: Planning a grand social media contest is an absolute must. Brainstorm well on the contest ideas. The more creative the contest, the more promise it holds for your brand recall and image. For e.g. you can define a person – male, early thirties, married, has a kid, is fond of gadgets and sports. Budget – Rs. 2000 to Rs. 3500. The participants have to sift through your online store to find a perfect gift for him. The answer that wins maximum votes (Likes, RTs) becomes the winner. 
  • Surprise gift with each purchase: Pack-in a special surprise in each delivery you make this festive season. This could be an additional/ exclusive discount voucher for the next purchase or even a small ‘Thank You’ gift like a funky keychain.

Leverage Predictive Analytics or Artificial Intelligence: In some ways Diwali is similar to the Black Friday /Cyber Monday discounts in North America after the Thanksgiving weekend. What is not similar between best practices in predictive analytics adopted by global companies and the marketing practices adopted by players in India.

  • Predictive Analytics for predictive discounting based on consumer clickstream behavior, historical behavior, social media data appends, rather than reactive behavior of following competitors. Here analytics can help in creating a proactive approach for recommendations based on statistical association analysis, time spent  on website , cookie behavior , mode of accessing website, than just give a flat discount. Imagine this. If Ratan Tata wanted to go to FlipKart and get a mobile phone he would get the same search interface and the same discount as a college student from Mumbai. Can we use analytics for better personalization?
  • Artificial Intelligence for better catalog management than create a clutter of products for overwhelming users with a very shoddy user experience. This should ideally be done on an ongoing basis, but on Diwali we Indians clean our houses to look good, why can’t we clean our websites to look clean. After all as per Mythology, goddess Laxmi chooses to enter places which are shining with cleanliness and zero junk. Which ecommerce company will have the best interface , with least junk results in search – that is the company for Laxmi to favor
  • Better campaign analytics for emails, phones and other channels for outreach marketing. The campaign analytics should help with early warning signs as well as create triggers for spotting interesting clusters of customer behaviour to click, convert and pay. Which channel should the customer be incentivized in what way? If the commerce data science team has been integrated in both letter and spirit of the company operations, the customers should see a UniChannel regardless of where they are coming from in terms of interface

anil kaul

Having a happy Diwali is a serious business that needs deep data analysis and if companies in India adopt global data science practices it can only lead to win-win scenarios for customers and corporations as well as the stakeholders in the logistics and delivery supply chain.

About Anil Kaul, Co-Founder and CEO of AbsolutData

Anil has over 22 years of experience in advanced analytics, market research, and management consulting. He is very passionate about analytics and leveraging technology to improve business decision-making. Prior to founding Absolutdata, Anil worked at McKinsey & Co. and Personify. He is also on the board of Edutopia, an innovative start-up in the language learning space.

An in-demand writer and speaker, Anil has published articles in McKinsey Quarterly, Marketing Science, Journal of Marketing Research and International Journal of Research. He was recently listed among the ‘10 Most Influential Analytics Leaders in India’ by Analytics Magazine India and has been quoted as a “Game Changer” in Research World. Anil has spoken at many industry conferences and top business schools, including Dartmouth, Berkeley, Cornell, Yale, Columbia and New York University. Anil holds a Ph.D. and a Master of Marketing degree, both from Cornell University.

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