Flipkart: The Indian “Amazon” or The “Amazon Killer”!

by Aman on October 29, 2011

Flipkart: The Indian AmazonOk I’m going to be clear from the beginning on one thing. I’m in love with Flipkart! And this post is going to be all praises for it. And it might seem to be a promotional post, so kindly bear! You see, I’m a self-confessed Internet junkie and anything remotely related to e-commerce gets my heartbeat racing the way yours does when you read Savita Bhabhi!


I’ve been following the likes of Amazon ever since I learnt to spell it, so the wait for the online retail giant to enter India has been a long and lonely one for me. And just when all hope seemed lost for Middle Earth and me, along came this little-known internet startup with a funny name called Flipkart.com! And the best part was that they started off selling books.

Now I’m a die-hard book-a-holic and my girlfriend often complains that I have the look of a love-lost teenager whenever I come within 3 miles of any bookstore. Book lovers like me dream of P.G. Woodhouse every 2 weeks and the time spent idling in the tiny, cramped lanes of Crossword, pondering over rows and rows of books gives me a high no drug can. But I’m also an Indian at heart and like all true-blooded Indians; I feel it’s my birthright to get the cheapest price! Actually I demand it!

So imagine my delight a year ago when after roaming for an hour at Crossword and Landmark, I went home and ordered 3 books from Flipkart and saved myself 700 friggin bucks! Yes, it was a huge gamble a year back with everyone wary about shopping online but I figured what-the-hell, “Risk toh Spiderman ko bhi lena padta hai!” And since then, there’s been no looking back. You see, a great first time experience is absolutely essential for online shopping. It’s like having great sex; once experienced, nothing compares to it!

What Went Right for Flipkart!

Flipkart FoundersThere were a lot of factors that worked well for Flipkart. The first and foremost was that we Indians were discarding our stone-age ways and beginning to shop online. You can have a product that looks like Emma Watson, acts like Johnny Depp, plays like Wayne Rooney, sings like Coldplay and writes like me but if people aren’t ready to shop online, then you’ll end up in Corporate America with a jobless sign around your neck!

Another thing the two entrepreneurs, Sachin and Binny Bansal, did right was that they started off with books – a low capital investment and a fast turn-around time. But the best thing they did was that they understood that too be successful in India, you need to be the God of Distribution. Kotler can talk about the 4 P’s of marketing till Rakhi Sawant learns to say “Jejus” correctly but in India, it’s amazing Logistics that prove to be the game-changer. And that’s exactly what the folks at Flipkart have done! And combine that with the cheapest prices on almost every product, it’s truly revolutionizing e-tail in India!

Consider the following stats and you’ll see what I’m trying to convey through this post:

  • Flipkart sells 1.5 lakh books a month. That’s 3.5 books a minute!
  • In 2009, it had a topline of 20 crore. By March 2012, that’s expected to touch 500 crore!
  • It has over 1 million registered users!
  • It ships over 20000 items every day. More than half of those are books!
  • It’s the 1st Indian Internet Company to be valued at $1 Billion!

The Impending Entry of Amazon

Amazon LogoWhile Flipkart may have got a first-mover advantage, it’ll only be a fool who counts out Amazon. The world’s largest online retailer may have been a bit slow to get off the ship but they’ve made their intention clear of wanting the biggest slice of the Indian pie.

And Flipkart know this all too well! Over the last year or so, they’ve expanded into a lot more categories, trying to capture more and more consumers and gone on an advertising blitzkrieg because they know that once Amazon starts operations here, it’s going be to one fierce battle. To get a perspective of how much Amazon is a threat to Flipkart, take a look at the below figures.

Amazon Vs Flipkart

Currently, Flipkart gets over 0.5 million unique visitors every month from India. Now if that’s impressive, check out the other fact. Amazon, on the other hand, gets 0.75 million unique visitors every month from India. And this is when they’ve not even started operations here! That’s what should be worrying Flipkart. Amazon is known for its legendary customer service and although it won’t be a cakewalk for them here (hell, we Indians are sure hard to please); knowing the US giant, they’ll be up for the challenge.

The Outcome of this Battle

Well, since all of you flock to this blog to catch a glimpse of my intelligence, I’m putting my two million cents worth of thought as to the outcome of this battle. As I see it, unlike Ra.One, this movie can have 3 possible endings.

  1. Amazon buys out Flipkart – Now Amazon has been known to adopt this strategy in other markets where it’s come in and bought off the closest competitors. And I have a very sneaky feeling, this is the reason for the 1 billion valuation of Flipkart. The Bansal friends are smart enough to know what they’re doing and who wouldn’t want to retire by 30!
  2. To Each his Own – There have been instances in Brazil and Japan where the local players have managed to hold their own against Amazon. That very well might just happen here with Flipkart expanding rapidly into new categories.
  3. Desi Power Rules the Roost – It can also be that Flipkart manages to hold off the advances of Amazon and the desi junta gives a thumbs up to the desi venture and the royal finger to the firangs just the way we do it to Himesssssssh Bhai every time he pretends to act!

No matter what happens, these are real exciting times for online shopping in India. We are already seeing a slew of online startups take shape with Yebhi, Inkfruit, Quickr etc. Although I don’t want to comment on them, I personally feel most of these sites won’t be around for a long time. No amount of money blown up on banner ads can make up for poor service and original products and I’ve already heard shock experiences about these other sites from so many of my friends.

Flipkart LogoSo till then folks, I’m happy sticking with Flipkart. And who knows, even when Amazon comes knocking, I’ll still go with Flipkart if it continues giving me value that I, the consumer, want. Happy Shopping!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

goutam jotwani March 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm

O pappe! dil khush karditta tune, seriously loved the article it was indeed very help full thanku

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Aman March 27, 2012 at 8:26 am

Hi Goutam,

Glad I could be of some help 🙂

Reply

Babita Farshwall October 22, 2012 at 8:53 am

Hi Aman,

Quiet an interesting write-up. Full of eye opening facts. Keep up the good work!

TC.

Reply

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