Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Flipkart : The book store at your door

Corporate Brand :

Brand Analysis Count : 430

Flipkart is an Indian online bookstore modeled around Amazon . The site was started by two IIT graduates Mr Binny Bansal and Mr Sachin Bansal. The site became operational in 2007. Within a short span of time, Flipkart has created a lot of buzz among the book lovers.

I am a book lover and my job as an academician demands that I read a lot of books. I came to know about flipkart quite accidentally. I used to buy books from another famous e-commerce site where I was a loyal customer with a gold level book club membership.

Marketers know that it is very difficult to poach loyal customers from a competitor. Lot of factors cause customers to stick to a familiar brand. Inertia, trust , averse to risk are some of the factors that prompt customers to stick with their old way of doing things. I was also of that type.

One friend suggested me to check out flipkart and and when I did, it split my loyalty instantly. One of the main USP of flipkart is the ease of use. Unlike other e-commerce site, flipkart is very very easy to use. Searching books was very easy and the site was also minimalistic. During that time, my earlier bookstore revamped its interface and it became very difficult to search books in that site which prompted me to look for alternatives. The simple interface of flipkart and their fast delivery also inspired my colleague ( who is a voracious reader) to switch to this site.

In services marketing theory , often we teach that " high level of performance " is an attribute that can cause delight in customers. Flipkart is an example of a site that differentiate itself on its performance rather than low price.

According to reports, Flipkart 's USP is its simple interface, fast searching and free shipping. The owners have rightly identified the critical differentiating factors and their service delivery is also quite fast. According to the brand owners, the market for online bookstore is around Rs 25 crore out of the total market size of Rs 4000 crore ( source). Competition is slowly hotting up in this space also.

What is interesting about flipkart is that the brand does not rely on above the line promotions. Rather, the brand depends on SEO and word of mouth publicity to drive customer traffic to the site.

Not all things are perfect for this brand. I still buy from my old store after comparing prices. The lack of a loyalty program is a big minus for an e-commerce site like flipkart. I feel that bookstores' cashcow will be the loyal customers rather than unique visitors.

For a startup, flipkart has really succeeded in getting basics correct. The brand has the potential to lure or poach customers from other similar competitors because it can deliver its promise faster. But when the customer base grows, it is a challenge for the brand owners to keep the high level of performance intact.

Kudos for the flipkart team.