Sunday, July 11, 2010

Brand Update : Flipkart - From Bookstore to Store

Regular readers of Marketing Practice know that I am not a big fan of Brand Extensions. I always feel uneasy when a brand moves from its defined space to a broader field of play . Flipkart has done just that. From a simple , clutter free online bookstore, the brand has now become an online store selling not only books but mobiles, music videos and gift vouchers.

Reflecting the change in the business strategy, the tagline of Flipkart has also changed from " The bookstore at your door " to " The store at your door ".

Flipkart within a short span of time was able to quickly gain consumer interest because of the simple interface , better pricing and quick service. Customers like me who found other sites like Indiaplaza too cluttered began to look at Flipkart as a serious alternative. In my opinion, Flipkart was a classic example of a brand which offered a simple highly focussed solution for the customer.

Not any more !

Flipkart now is not a bookstore. It is now an online store just like any other online stores. The only differentiating factor is that it retains the simple interface.

The change in the business model of Flipkart will have a serious impact on the brand itself. The brand was built as an online bookstore and now has diluted its core positioning . Now what is the difference between Flipkart, Indiaplaza, Infibeam, tradus and numerous online stores that retails everything from books to innerwears.

While in the books' retailing Flipkart has demonstrated its strength in getting the best price and ensuring fast delivery, will it be able to do that in other categories like mobilephones ? The business logic behind Flipkart to get into other categories is to get more revenue, the question is whether it could demonstrate its success in other categories aswell.
There can be many reasons behind this move :
  • Book margins may be underpressure and does not make business sense to concentrate on books alone because of price/margin/competitive pressure.
  • Wanted to emulate the business model of Amazon which successfully moved from books to other categories
  • Investor pressure to deliver more returns.
  • Other categories offered lucrative opportunities.
  • Want to cash in the brand equity.
  • Founders want to build scale and exit ?
Does it not make sense for Flipkart to concentrate on books alone and become the best/largest/most profitable online bookstore in the country ? I assume that the founders may be under pressure to grow very fast and give more returns to the " angels " who have invested in the venture ( its my assumption !).

I am not going to predict the future of Flipkart as an ordinary store. But in a branding point of view, Flipkart will be diluting its current stature as a highly efficient online bookstore. Thus leaving its exclusive space to potential competitors.
I wish that the brand replicate its success in the current ' diluted ' avatar.

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