Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Flipkart - a review

I've been a loyal customer of Flipkart for a long time now, before I decided to check out Infibeam as well. One use proved why Flipkart is a lot better service than the other. I was doing this as part of an assignment. I thought I might as well post it here, and start a series where I can review various services that I use. 
_____________________________, an Indian Internet Start-up offers a whole gamut of products ranging from books to personal health care products, and recently even microwaves and washing machines. Flipkart has managed to differentiate itself from the clutter of websites offering similar products through its discounted rates, reliable shipping, high variety and brilliant customer service, which leads to customer retention and loyalty. 

What they do right

1.      User Interface: Flipkart has a wonderfully simple user interface that allows loads quickly, and offers a ‘lite’ version for slower internet speeds too, rather than the flash heavy interfaces of other e-Commerce websites, that improves the customer experience on the website.

2.      Cash on Delivery, EMI, 30 day guarantee: The varied payment schemes provided by the site like Cash on Delivery, EMIs and the 30 day guarantee scheme for products go a long way in countering the general tendency of the Indian Consumer to shop in traditional shops than online. 

3.      Payment Interface: Rather than going in for the confusing CCAvenue payment gateway that most e-Commerce websites opt for, Flipkart has a much more reliable Axis Bank Payment Gateway that is easier to use. 

4.      Variety: The most important thing for a book store is the variety. A consumer who finds a rare title is definitely bound to return back to the website for further orders, and Flipkart with their variety have gone a long way in ensuring this. 

5.      Deliveries and packaging: Flipkart is renowned for its prompt deliveries within the promised deadline, and most of the time delivers earlier than promised. It is this customer focused approach that has helped Flipkart keep their noses ahead of the competition. 

6.      Customer Service: Flipkart’s business model is based on repeat purchases and retaining customers and has built a highly responsive customer service team that responds to all queries within 24 hours. Their active presence on Social Networking sites and ensuring timely deliveries, with a smile, go a long way in ensuring success of their business model.

The Downside

1.      Search feature: The search feature on the website allows only a basic search, and not an advanced option that allows you to search by author name or ISBN etc. This proves to be a hassle when the name of the book is a common name. 

2.      Categorizing: Though Flipkart has a visible ‘category’ wise catalogue for their books, it becomes pretty apparent that most of their titles are not properly catalogued. Buying in book shops generally happens when the customer spots the book in a particular category and gets interested in it, despite not having known the book previously. Flipkart’s poor cataloguing eliminates the opportunity of such buys.

Scope for future development

1.      International Shipping: A logical step ahead is to move into the sphere of international shipping – initially with Srilanka and Bangladesh, and start competing with their big brother, Amazon. 

2.      Widening of Range in some product categories: There is an obvious scope for improvement in the product variety in some of the newly launched product ranges. 

3.      Customised products and Gifts: One area where, a competing company scores over Flipkart is their customised gifts through PicSquare. Though Flipkart offers an option of a gift wrap and a personal message for a nominal charge, the service is not quite apparent for first time users. Customized products and gifts is another area where there is scope for future development. 

4.      Same-day-Shipping: Flipkart could have different versions of their website based on the location of the customer that offer different shipping times for their products. Some of the bigger cities could soon be equipped with same-day shipping considering that Flipkart has a strong in-house logistics service. 

5.      Product Pages: Flipkart could look at having better product pages for individual items. Some items like a Cell phone or a camera or a Microwave oven would be better projected with a 360 degree image viewer. This would offer a more intuitive view for the consumers than the photographs that are on display now. Flipkart could also look to develop their product pages in a better manner than they are right now, with lesser unnecessary data being displayed. 
6.      Customised Delivery Dates: As an extension to the gifting service, Flipkart could look at offering customer chosen delivery dates for the same, beyond a threshold date that Flipkart can provide. 

On the whole, Flipkart, through its methodical approach of expansion of product categories, rather than starting off as a Jack of all trades is slowly emerging as the Amazon of the Indian e-Commerce arena. With a strong logistics and customer focused approach, Flipkart is slowly taking steps into becoming a giant in the e-Commerce space. Future scope for development includes wider range of products and international shipping etc. 

On same lines, Shop N Network - An IIM-A Start up by a couple of seniors from TN. Highly reliable delivery and service. Good and unique range of products. 

Note: Photocredits: Flipkart, Infibeam,  Amazon and Shop n Network. 
Flipkart, Infibeam, Amazon and Shop n Network are registered trademarks of their respective owners.

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