Flipkart: Making e-commerce click with an Indian flavour

22 Sep,2011

Sachin Bansal is the CEO and Co-founder of Flipkart and oversees all the customer facing activities of the company ranging from technology to marketing. He is also in charge of Flipkart’s corporate divisions which include the finance and legal departments. A graduated from IIT-Delhi with a degree in Computer Engineering, he joined Amazon.com in India in the year 2006. He left the company to set up Flipkart in 2007, and talks to Tuhina Anand about current developments and future plans.

Q: With plans of Amazon firming up in India, how do you think this will affect Flipkart, considering the might of Amazon?

E-commerce in India is at a very nascent stage. The industry is evolving and the growth will escalate with the entrance of serious players like Amazon. Such a development should boost the momentum that the e-commerce market is now witnessing. We do not see this impacting Flipkart’s plans to a great extent. We have met all the benchmarks that we had set for ourselves and will continue to do so in the near future.

Q: Do you think that India is a different market and even a behemoth like Amazon can’t succeed unless it understands Indian sensibilities like Flipkart has, especially with its COD option which even FashionandYou has adopted to?

Amazon has the advantage of being an established brand name. However, the challenges posed by the market in India are unique – from supply-chain and logistics to warehousing and payments. Any company which is starting operations in this country will have to invest time and resources to overcome challenges that most other companies operating in this space have already faced

Q: There has been a lot of speculation on Flipkart looking for PE/VC funding. What is your response to it?

We are not commenting on any speculation with respect to our funding.

Q: What are some of the portfolio expansion in terms of selling that one should expect from Flipkart in the next few months?

We have recently added categories like healthcare and personal products as well as home appliances. We will complete the entire gamut of electronics first and will then look at other categories. We will continue to add more products / selection to our existing categories as well. For example, we have recently added tablets, desktops and peripherals like printers and scanners to our computers category.

Q: Any plans of partnering with Indian e-book reader companies to offer on Flipkart?

We are keeping a close watch on this market and also studying similar models abroad. We will definitely give this space serious consideration when we see that the opportunity is right in India.

 

Q: What would you say has been the reason for Flipkart’s success?

We were confident of the space and the model we were operating in.  We continued to focus on delivering a positive customer experience by ensuring convenience and a hassle-free shopping experience at every customer engagement point, and this translated into strong word-of-mouth promotion for us.

Our obsession with customer experience, coupled with offers, EMI options as well as setting up our own delivery network to take care of last mile delivery bottlenecks, has worked in our favour and made it easier for customers to trust us.

What started off as a modest venture has gone on to becoming one of India’s leading online shopping destinations with 2,500 employees across the country. We are present across ten product categories – movies, music, games, mobiles and accessories, computers, gaming consoles, MP3 players and iPods, personal and healthcare products and home appliances – and are still growing. In books alone we have nearly 11.5 million titles, making us the largest online book retailer in India.

We now have a registered user base of 1 million customers and are currently selling 22,000 items a day, clocking daily sales of Rs 1.5 crore.

Q: Recently, the brand has been active in advertising, especially with the new TVC; what really prompted this move at this point of time? How are these TVCs being supported offline?

While most consumers in Flipkart’s core target group understand the benefits of online shopping, such as selection, price and convenience, many are held back by apprehensions associated with online purchase of physical goods. These range from shipment of faulty products, delayed or lost shipments and the reluctance to divulge credit card details online.

The campaign, which talks of some of our path-breaking initiatives like payment on delivery, product warranty and 30-day replacement policy, seeks to address these concerns and bring those shopping offline into the online space.

Our national campaign on TV and print is being supported by other mediums like OOH and radio. These will be used to expand reach in markets that already have high e-commerce penetration like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.

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