The homegrown e-tailer expects to see increased value-conscious buying compared to previous years during the six-day-long sale period, but has upped its game to drive engagement and the trust of new shoppers at a time when it is locked in a battle with rival Amazon and new entrant Reliance Industries’ Jio Mart.
Four top executives of the Walmart-owned company — including senior vice presidents Amitesh Jha, Jeyandran Venugopal and Rajneesh Kumar – told ET in a joint interview that they expect small towns to dominate growth.
“In the last 6 months, due to Covid-19 lot of users for the first time actually started trying out ecommerce. We had to fundamentally innovate and rethink on how to make the platform even better to cater to the new needs of this next 200 million cohort,” said Venugopal, chief product and technology officer at Flipkart.
Since last year, Flipkart has launched in local languages including Tamil, Hindi and Kannada, and invested in voice and natural language technology to drive adoption. Sales could grow by as much as 50% to about $4 billion during the main sales days – which are dominated by Flipkart’s Big Billion Days and Amazon’s Great Indian Festival Sale, according to consultancy RedSeer’s estimates.
This period is expected to add 50 million new shoppers, according to the consulting firm’s forecast.
Gaming and video commerce focus
Social selling, gaming and video offering for customers looking to engage beyond shopping will be important levers this festive season.
“For customers new to the internet, gaming and videos are first touchpoints… having a presence in that space helps us connect with them, and over time it builds a level of affinity and stickiness to our platform,” Venugopal added.
However, consumer insights derived by the ecommerce company indicates that users are becoming more and more value conscious.
“More so, in these challenging times… We are trying to bring value through a wider and affordable selection, led by small local businesses,” said Rajneesh Kumar, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Flipkart.
Kumar added that forging ecosystem partnerships and working closely with local governments will be key to optimizing safe fulfilment amid the pandemic.
Agile supply chain
According to Amitesh Jha, SVP – eKart and marketplace, in the runup to BBD, Flipkart has added over 3.4 million square feet of space across supply chain assets, onboarded 50,000 kiranas (corner stores) for deliveries, partnered with about 60 brands to ship goods faster, and doubled its seller base.
The company launched a new initiative, BrandAdvantage, which allows sellers that have bought inventory from brands to keep it stored in the brand’s own warehouses across the country instead of a centralized seller location.
“This helps the overall value chain performance by reducing non-value-added movements, faster time to market, and improved sell-through for new product lines for brands,” said Jha.
Focus on SMBs
In a bid to get more sellers from small towns online, Jagjeet Harode, senior director, marketplace, at Flipkart, said the etailer was working with a slew of first-time small businesses to help them launch and scale online.
“We are running programs to help businesses with working capital, enable them to launch more categories where the demand is higher and handhold with account management,” said Harode. The focus of onboarding SMEs is consistent across all marketplaces.
Last week, Amazon India said this festive season, more than a third of the participating businesses were first-time online sellers, with the overall seller base on the platform increasing to 650,000 from 550,000 in the last 10 months. This Diwali, Reliance is also expected to trigger a price war, with JioMart expanding its presence beyond groceries to foray into fashion, smartphones, and consumer electronics.
Harode told ET that Flipkart too continues to be bullish about these categories. Personalization is another key lever for Flipkart to drive sales from existing customers.
“We have scaled up our personalization algorithms… to understand a customer’s brand sensitivity, brand preferences, the price sensitivity, category affinities to give them the best-optimized experience,” Venugopal said.