FlipKart , a Bangalore-based online retail bookstore has been repeatedly referred to as “India’s answer to Amazon”. This very comparison was the reason that I chose to start the Headstart ‘Startup Stories’ section with this company. In March 2009, Business Today named Flipkart as one of India’s ten hottest startups. The company is currently growing by nearly 25 per cent a month and has projected revenues of over Rs 25 crore for the fiscal 2009-10. The site attracts 5 million user views per month.The numbers clearly indicate that something is being done well here.
Two IITD graduates – Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal, started Flipkart in 2007. The company has around 80 employees today. “We noticed that most online e-commerce players in India didn’t get even the basics right. Customers were not getting what they ordered, in the time that they were promised. Our customers can trust us. We provide them satisfaction and unmatched usability”, says Binny. Narrowing the domain to books ensured the absence of “touch and feel” for shopping and also a quick go to market strategy – an example of good market research.
Last month, Flipkart received an undisclosed amount of funding from Accel Partners and Invited Subrata Mitra from Accel onto its board. In Subrata’s words – “they have the right combination of being great internet founders; having proper handle on both the supply and distribution sides associated with their primary line of business; and utmost diligence in maintaining competitive pricing together with great customer satisfaction.”
Some of the other companies that are doing well in the online books market for India are Amazon, Pustak, IndiaPlaza, Landmark, FirstandSecond, Strands and InfiBeam. The online stores score over physical stores in terms of the number of titles they can stock and in convenience. Why would anyone drive through the crazy city traffic, only to buy a book at a price higher than that available from the comfort of the couch? The following figure shows the comparative analysis of the page views on some of the above sites in the last three months (courtesy: alexa). The chart shows Flipkart and Infibeam as close competitors for the top slot in the online book market. It would be good to have the next post on Infibeam and find what they are doing right.
Flipkart.com combines an intuitive user interface with excellent customer service, competitive prices, vast variety of titles and a free and efficient delivery system. The entire site is accessible using a single search bar. Sections like ‘Top Authors’ and ‘Recently Sold on Flipkart’ put the available intelligence to good use. Flipkart has built an advantage over its competitors based on its SEO. Flipkart can be found on 130 keyword searches on search engines. However, the factor that sets Flipkart apart is it’s reliable, fast and free of cost delivery. Here are a few customer reviews that we came across:
bsandeep: online books: I use flipkart. No nonsense, reliable & pretty good.
FlipKart’s current model is based on partnership with local book vendors who keep updating the inventory. The process is being automated for efficiency. There are around 3.5 million books in its database. Flipkart is rigorously working to make its coverage as wide as possible. It operates two distribution centers in Delhi and Bangalore and targets three more centers, one each in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata by the end of this fiscal. Flipkart also plans to explore further in book retail to include regional language books and to improve services delivery. Some users have experienced trouble accessing the site lately and a there is a focus on scaling the backend. Flipkart works with popular open source products such as Ubuntu, Mysql, Apache and PHP and is proud to be a part of the open source movement. The company is actively looking to hire talented people in operations, supply chain, marketing, sales and technology at all levels.
Cofounder, Headstart Network Foundation