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Flipkart’s Massive Offline Retail Push: Launches 20 ‘Experience Zones’ Across 10 Cities; Enables ‘Click and Collect’ Feature For Customers

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Flipkart logo office

In one of the biggest offline expansion ever performed by an Indian ecommerce portal (if we leave aside Chumbak), Flipkart has launched 20 ‘experience zones’ across 10 cities in India. These zones would enable their customers to ‘touch and feel’ the products after ordering them online.

The most valuable aspect of these ‘experience zones’ is that, customers can directly pick their orders from these outlets, thereby saving time for themselves and saving resources for Flipkart.

A win-win situation for all.

In a pilot project, Flipkart witnessed 80% of their deliveries being picked up from these outlets in the last 6 months.

Neeraj Aggarwal, Sr. Director – Delivery Operations, Flipkart, said while announcing this new initiative, “The significance of these experience zones is to catapult customer convenience, while bringing in positive impact on scale and reach in supply chain expansion.”

As per Neeraj, Flipkart delivery boys are often restricted from entering a gated community, IT parks and educational institutions, which delay the delivery and hamper the end-user’s overall experience. These experience zones will certainly assist such customers who are not able to receive their orders due to such reasons.

In a statement, Flipkart said, “Flipkart’s alternate delivery model will allow customers to walk into their nearest experience centre and collect their shipments at their convenient time.”

The cities where these ‘experience zones’ have been launched are: Bangalore , Mysore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Vellore, Gurgaon, Vadodara, Surat.

If we think long term, then these ‘experience zones’ can be a major leveraging factor for Flipkart’s rural expansion. By March, 2016, they are planning to launch 100 such zones across the country, with special emphasis on Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities.

Considering that orders from non-urban locations are increasing every day, this seems a good strategic step to build brand loyalty and to enable the customer with more choices. In future, these outlets will host a number of services such as spot trials, reverse pick-ups, instant returns, cash on returns, and exclusive product demos.

Yesterday, we had reported that Flipkart is emulating Amazon by entering into hyperlocal niche for speedy delivery of their orders.

But Flipkart Cant Sell Offline

Interestingly, due to strict FDI rules, Flipkart won’t be able to sell any product from these offline outlets.

Current FDI norms prohibit any firm with foreign ownership or stake indulge in B2C retail; hence only those customers who have ordered online can visit these zones to touch and feel the product and subsequently pick them up.

Eye on IPO Launch?

Flipkart is an online marketplace, and this reverse osmosis type process from online to offline may raise few eyebrows. Afterall, if one needs to visit one of these ‘experience zones’ in order to touch and feel the product, then why not the nearest shopping mall be preferred, instead of Flipkart?

There can be several reasons for this new offline push by Flipkart, but one of them can be their IPO plans. We had earlier reported that Flipkart is planning a $5 billion IPO via Wall Street in the next 18 months, and any traditional investor will vouch that having an offline presence builds credibility and trust.

By the time the IPO is finalized, Flipkart will have hundreds of such outlets, thereby forming a hybrid model of online + offline ecommerce. Certainly not a bad strategy, especially when it comes to the orthodox practices of the stock market.

Will you choose these ‘experience zones’ to pick Flipkart orders & touch and feel the products or plain shipping by delivery boys will work? Do share your opinion by commenting right here!

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