Shopping in India has changed a lot over the years and people are shopping online like never before. One of the key reasons for making online shopping so reliable & convenient in India is the emergence of e-commerce giant Flipkart. The mega online shopping store was introduced to the industry 8 years ago and online shopping has revolutionised the e-commerce and instilled faith in great customer service since then. Flipkart is now arguably the country’s largest and most exciting e-commerce company.
Success stories around the world always follow the roads rarely taken by any and have struggle around and strong determination at the heart of the tale. Flipkart is no exception.
They quit their jobs at Amazon, Bangalore, pooled together 4 lakhs from their savings and headed out to chase their dream. Today Flipkart generates over 1.5 crore of deals per day.
Rewinding 8 years from now, working out of a two-bedroom apartment in the city’s upscale Koramangala suburb, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal were just another couple of geeks nurturing their own big idea. Both the IITians had the idea to launch an online bookstore tailored to unique needs of Indian customer. They quit their jobs at Amazon, Bangalore, pooled together 4 lakhs from their savings and headed out to chase their dream. Today Flipkart generates over 1.5 crore of deals per day.
”In order to make sure that our targeting was right, we would give bookmarks to only those who were coming out with books in hands; the people who have made purchases.”
“In the beginning it was a two-man show. We did everything ourselves” says Sachin Bansal. Binny and he spent the second half of 2007 writing code for the site, picking up books from local book shops, dealing with customers’ queries and what not. Instead of blowing money on online and printed advertisements, they used to stand outside Gangaram Book stores on Church Street and hand over Flipkart bookmarks and pamphlets to the people coming out of the shop. Sachin had said in an interview, ”In order to make sure that our targeting was right, we would give bookmarks to only those who were coming out with books in hands; the people who have made purchases.” Despite many difficulties in the initial stages of getting the book vendors to tie up and permissions for the credit card payment gateway, the company later expanded and started selling electronic goods and lifestyle products.
From previous experience in Amazon and studying current e-commerce customer behaviour they observed some loopholes in the implementation of their big idea and tried to fix them. They observed that not just companies were unable to satisfy the customers due to delayed deliveries, also the cost to customer was increasing. Moreover, Indian consumers may be shopping more online, but the vast majority still prefers to touch and feel a product before paying for it.
Innovators Sachin and Binny came up with the concept of ‘Cash on Delivery’ and payment by card on delivery. This was done to soothe the grievances of all those souls who had given up on online shopping owing to bad shopping experiences. People just couldn't trust the online services. But with COD, they started to put their faith into it. What adds to the customer experience is the option to return if a customer does not like a product. If not for anything, Sachin and Binny Bansal can make it to the history books for this alone.
Another problem was the supply chain system. If the goods are not delivered on time then it results in decrement of customer count by a large margin. This problem was tackled by launching their own supply chain management system. The company can thus ensure that customers receive their purchases within the promised time on paying no extra money. It also helps streamline payments.
Flipkart was the most ridiculous thing he had ever done.
Some other major challenges faced by the founders was to get tie-ups with major book-vendors and to get approval for the credit card payment gateway. Astonishingly today, Flipkart has almost each and every book vendor/publisher on board and even its own payment gateway, Payzippy.
Sachin would say, Flipkart was the most ridiculous thing he had ever done. With a small capital of 4 lakhs rupees, their business idea of online book store has revolutionised business across India – a society not very popular for books. The company was set to raise funds of around 5000 crore in the year 2015 which is huge for a 7 year old company. Flipkart has acquired a stature comparable to the major players like P&G and Tata Global Beverages.
From handing bookmarks to handling a multi-billion dollar company, Flipkart's journey is no less than the saga of a typical Bollywood film having all those moments of a crisis, nail-biting finish, race against time and a victorious finale. Setting all the odds aside Flipkart has efficiently made it through the Indian e-commerce industry and inspired many young entrepreneurs to start working on their dreams.