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Flipkart Taking Over The Indian E-Commerce, One Category At A Time?

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I am a fan of e-commerce but one look at e-commerce in India and there are more negatives than positives. Infrastructure issues apart customer service/satisfaction is one aspect where most Indian e-commerce ventures continue to be below average.

Enter Flipkart, the then online bookseller and i thought that the Indian E-commerce sector might just have hope. A user friendly web interface, heavy discounts, prompt delivery and to top it all a super prompt customer service is what Flipkart stood for and it made the company stand out among its peers.

I have personally used Flipkart for all my book purchases despite the fact that online bookstores could still learn a lot from offline bookstores. However, Flipkart was not ready to rest on its laurels and settle with the title of an awesome online bookseller. The company has been a darling of PE’s and VC’s raising millions in multiple funding rounds. The company made good of the funding and diversified into new categories starting with Movie & Game DVD’s. Electronic Gadgets came next and going by the discounted prices, I have no doubt that Flipkart is doing brisk business across all categories.

Now, Just when you thought Flipkart has diversified enough and they are selling pretty much all the hot products with the potential to sell online, it has spread its wings wider.

Yes, Flipkart has launched a new category ‘Personal and Health Care’. To a certain extent, current product range is largely electronics but I am sure they will introduce more products soon.

However, the idea of the post is not to discuss the history and success of Flipkart but to see why Flipkart has reached where it is today despite operating it in a market that is considered unfriendly for e-commerce even today.

  • Flipkart probably offers the deepest discounts across product categories. I remember Arun telling that he found the Nexus S cheapest at Flipkart and he was wondering how Flipkart managed it. In a price conscious market like India, deep discount is sure sure mantra and Flipkart has gotten it spot on!

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  • Flipkart has invested heavily in getting their supply chain right. I don’t have the exact sources but I remember the Flipkart twitter account telling me that they have bought courier services at a few locations to ensure timely delivery. Now that might be a non-core area to invest in but from a customer standpoint it is pure genius. Timely delivery means a happy customer and having a courier service in-house makes their supply chain seamless
  • Flipkart has a mad focus on customer satisfaction/support. They have consistently raised my expectations when it comes to online buying and those one-off instances of a mishap, they have been very prompt with an alternative solution
  • More than anything, the company’s vision and strategy has been future looking. From keeping the branding open and not typecasting itself as an online bookseller to advertising on TV (unlikely for Indian e-commerce ventures), the company seems to have its pulse on the market and is still adventurous enough to tread unknown waters
  • All this has been even when Flipkart like others suffers from pathetic state of e-commerce infrastructure in India. According to this post on Medianama, Flipkart CEO mentioned that their conversion rates stood at mid-single digits. Imagine the company’s performance if the payment gateways were more efficient

With another category, Flipkart is slowly but surely establishing itself as “THE E-Commerce” site in India or as people say "Amazon of India". I wish other e-commerce ventures take a cue from their success and strive for a better customer experience.

However, as Flipkart expands it will face significant challenges in maintaining the service standards it has set for itself. The overall e-commerce ecosystem is also turning better with the likes of Infibeam etc. doing rather well. The journey to reach the zenith of Indian E-commerce will no doubt be tough for Flipkart but the way they are expanding, they look the most likely to win the e-commerce battle in India.

What are your thoughts on Flipkart’s consistent growth and expansion in the last few years? Do you think the company has what it takes to reach the likes of Amazon in the future

  1. manan pandya says

    Every business survives purely for bottomlines.

    Anyone can come in a business – sell products are less than market prices and get popular. But that won’t pay for TV commercials. That won’t pay salaries. Look at what happened to Kishore Biyani at the end of the day.

    If a customer is cost conscious – then loyalty and stickiness can be questioned.

    Business is not about how much revenue you can bring. It’s about how much profit you can make by doing what you do. Flipkart is burning through cash everyday (no official numbers, but i’ve heard rumors estimating it at 15-18 lakhs a day).

    Unless Flipkart makes money on each transaction it does – it is a failing enterprise. It is beyond a startup stage where it can keep burning money without much thought.

    I love Flipkart – and would like to see it make the transition to being a profitable enterprise. Just because I would like to see beyond a few months.

  2. Ronit says

    Flipkart still isn’t making a profit and were it not for millions of VC dollars, they would really be struggling. I guess their growth is good for online shopping India operators like http://www.bhaap.com

  3. BISHNUPAD says

    JUST CHECK THE PRICE OF BOOKS IN FLIPKART AND HOMESHOP18 THEN ULL FIND THE DIFFERENCE.THE DIFF IS HELL AND HEAVEN(HS18)

  4. kannan says

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    Watch this interesting video…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F6PWti24x0&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  5. Kayathri Kumari says

    Here is a life changing motivational book… ONE BOOK FOR LIFE SUCCESS —> Do not miss to read it. It changed the lives of millions..
    website — > http://www.onebookforlifesuccess.com.

  6. Jeevan Rama says

    interesting real-time and totally personalized ecommerce platform… we don't have to waste any time on sites. it's just aswesome and real-time…MyDeals247.

  7. Nishant Agrawal says

    They customer support is excellent. Hardly like an 'Indian' company. Lets see what happens in the Indian e-commerce bubble burst. I've heard a lot about their revenues, and valuation. No one talks about their bottom line.

  8. anju says

    Have you ever come across this interesting eCommerce site?… it’s just aswesome and real-time…MyDeals247.com
    Check this video —> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9olj1uJ_k7I

  9. Anju Cvr says

    Have you ever come across this interesting eCommerce site? it's just aswesome and real-time…MyDeals247.com.
    Check this video —> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9olj1uJ_k7I.

  10. Filpkart Coupons says

    Hello Das. you said that flipkart is not delivered products in our regions. Can you list out those regions. Just I want to know those regions. I want to try get the coupons from flipkart. Thanks you.

  11. S Das says

    I am very sorry to say that flipkart.com is not delivering any products in our regions. While other websites are sending the same items in my place. They should take some steps immediately before its too late. It may take some time but they should include our place for shipping also.
    Thanks

  12. Vaibhav Kandpal says

    Considering the discounts Flipkart offers I am a bit paranoid can anyone help me out.. I mean I want to buy some books online and stores like atta mc graw hill oxford etc.. give on mrp while flipkart offers at very low prices so does it compromises the book's genuinty?

  13. Dr. Amit Johari says

    Galaxy PRO is available for 8k on letsbuy.com if u use discount coupon along with JABRA BT headset. U search and u can find better deal. its not that flipkart is cheap. BUT BUT , i m waiting for it to be delivered to me and its already 3 days. How is the delivery service of FLIPKART

  14. Aashish Gupta says

    Though Flipkart does seem to be generating a lot of buzz right now, I’m a bit skeptical about their future. The biggest reason being that Amazon is going to make an entry into India and with their kind of marketing muscle and pricing power, they can easily dominate the market.

    Flipkart is expanding into all sorts of categories for precisely the same reason … capture as much of the market as possible before Amazon arrives. But as the ecommerce market matures, its going to be harder and harder for them to brave competition from both big players like Amazon and smaller niche players who face
    fairly low entry barriers.

    With Amazon’s entry, these entry barriers will get even lower, as with their marketplace features pretty much anyone can start selling their stuff on Amazon. And remember, where Flipkart’s founders learnt their “customer focus” from? Amazon!

    Couple of other things to note:
    For one, Flipkart doesn’t really offer the best prices on most things, but they have managed to create this perception by offering the best prices on a lot of popular items. Even for books, a comparison engine like indiabookstore.net reveals cheaper prices being offered by others. Customers are getting smarter about how they search for deals.

    Second, a lot of the newer e-commerce ventures like uread.com, yellowleg.com, etc. offer a great customer experience and equally low prices. And being focused on the single category they sell, they’re able to connect a lot better with their customers. For example, if you’re an avid reader you’ll see a lot more relevant updates if you follow uread on twitter and if you’re a travel enthusiast, yellowleg.com has a great community of facebook. In the world of “social shopping”, this can be an edge that niche players have over an uber-store.

  15. jai rathore says

    i agree….. i was looking for a documentary on maharaja gaj singh & found it available only on 2-3 indian sites & was surprised with the price Flipkart was offering ….that too with freeee shipping….hope to get better prices on cameras too :))

    1. Ankit Agarwal says

      Jai, these guys are awesome with discounts especially when it comes to books. I am not sure about cameras but i guess they still manage to do it at less than market prices

  16. Zaki Ansari says

    What I can tell right away is that Flipkart is also investing very well in its PR efforts ;-).

  17. Zaki Ansari says

    What I can tell right away is that Flipkart is also investing very well in its PR efforts ;-).

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Zaki :) are you trying to suggest that Ankit Agarwal is on flipkart's PR team :D.

    2. Ankit Agarwal says

      If you mean earned PR, their service does it for them. Be rest assured that i am in no way related to Flipkart and have no vested interest in promoting them :D

    3. Arun Prabhudesai says

      But I am sure Ankit Agarwal will not mind if @flipkart offers him some discount for this post :) lol

  18. Arun Prabhudesai says

    Ankit…Excellent POst….other than my recent experience with Flipkart, they have been a lighthouse ecommerce site of India… I just hope that as they become bigger, they maintain the level of service that people have come to expect from them…

    1. Ankit Agarwal says

      I almost wanted to mention that they have had some kinks in the past but gave them the benefit of doubt given that they have redefined excellent service levels for the most part. ofcourse, maintaining that challenge is going to be an herculean task as they expand further

  19. Sriram Vadlamani says

    Great post Ankit.

    On a different note, what Flipkart can’t sell is train tickets. And that’s where India’s eCommerce is sitting.

    1. Ankit Agarwal says

      Agreed Sriram. Train tickets is where the indian e-commerce currently lies but then i am not sure if diversifying there would make sense for Flipkart. On the other hand, as the e-commerce market matures, these guys are positioned to rake in the moolah. More than their first mover advantage, i love their strategic vision and it shows in everything they do

  20. Pradeep says

    very good post. Flipcart really rocks and offer great price on all products

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