Founded by former Amazon employees Sachin and Binny Bansal in 2007, Flipkart has quickly gone on to become the first billion dollar Internet company in India, and now expects sales to increase ten times in the next financial year, according to a Businessweek report.
Flipkart’s sales for the year ended in March 2011 were approximately $10 million and, with two-thirds of the 2011–2012 financial year already behind it, is confident that the combination of rising Internet usage and increasing confidence in online spending will allow it to increase its sales tenfold.
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The base of Internet users in India has multiplied almost 10 to 11 times in the last six years. People in India are now also more comfortable shopping online than they were before.
India currently has over 100 million Internet users, which leaves a lot of untapped potential for e-commerce websites in the country, even though it is a pretty small figure in comparison to its gigantic population. Last we heard, the number of Internet-savvy shoppers in the country was on the rise, with 17 million already onboard by August this year.
Flipkart started off hawking just books, but has since expanded its offerings to cover a wide range of electronics, including cameras, computers, game consoles, home appliances, music players, mobile phones and televisions. It also sells a clutch of games, health care items, movies, music, stationery and TV shows.
The Bangalore-based company, which ships about 30,000 items per day, plans to add even more categories to its arsenal in the coming months and invest in logistics and technology. Flipkart already has some of the fastest shipping times in the country, as evidenced by customers who regularly take to Twitter to voice their approval.
It also offers a cash-on-delivery option with a small surcharge for several Indian cities, which allows customers to pay for items in cash once they are delivered. To round up the package, it offers a 30-day return policy that is uncommon not just among Indian commerce websites, but physical retail stores as well.
Finally, the company is notable for simply being creative, cute and friendly. Although it has little to do with its operations, Flipkart’s funny TV ad campaigns and their active customer support on Twitter and elsewhere has made them a favourite among India’s online population.
However, it is not all sunshine and daisies in the world of e-commerce for Flipkart, which fails to compete on price with other websites in India, especially when it comes to books. No matter how good Amazon may be in every other department, its offering some of the lowest prices in the industry is what makes it the de facto winner in the e-commerce space globally.
Speaking of which, the American company has its sights set on India and is reportedly entering the e-commerce market here early next year. It is also investing $100 million into the expansion of its backend operations in the country. Despite Flipkart’s clear first mover advantage and beloved status among India’s online shoppers, going up against Amazon is going to be the biggest hurdle it will have faced thus far.