Flipkart.Com - the Success Saga

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Things are easier said than Done! To realize our dreams and that also in such a grand manner is really a tough task. The founders of Flipkart have probably conquered their dreams with the amazing success of Flipkart. Flipkart is something which has really opened up the Indian e-commerce market and that also in a big way.

Flipkart was co-founded by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal in Oct 2007. Both are graduates from IIT-Delhi and have prior work experience in Amazon.com They both were solid coders and wanted to open a portal that compared different e-commerce websites, but there were hardly any such sites in India and they decided to give birth to their own e-commerce venture - Flipkart.com

Thus was born Flipkart in Oct 2007 with an initial investment of 4 lac (co-founders savings). It was never going to be easy since India has had bad past experiences with e-commerce trading. It was not an easy segment to break into, people were very particular in paying money for something which they had not seen and received. The trust was missing in the Indian customers. So what Flipkart had to do was to instill trust and faith in their customers. And they did exactly the same, will discuss more on how they did so later in the post.

Flipkart began with selling books, since books are easy to procure, target market which reads books is in abundance, books provide more margin, are easy to pack and deliver, do not get damaged in transit and most importantly books are not very expensive, so the amount of money a customer has to spend to try out one's service for one time is very minimal. Flipkart sold only books for the first two years. Flipkart started with the consignment model (procurement based on demand) i.e. they had ties with 2 distributors in Bangalore, whenever a customer ordered a book, they used to personally procure the book from the dealer, pack the book in their office and then courier the same. In the initial months the founder's personal cell numbers used to be the customer support numbers. So, in the start they tried their best to provide good service, focus on the website - easy to browse and order and hassle-free, and strove hard to resolve any customer issues. Since there were not any established players in the market, this allowed them a lot of space to grow, and they did in fact grew very rapidly.

Flipkart had a revenue of 4 crore in FY 2008 - 2009, 20 crore in FY 2009 - 2010, 75 crore in FY 2010 - 2011, and the revenue for FY 2011 - 2012 which ends on 31 Mar 2012 is expected to be 500 crore. This is indeed a massive growth. The company targets revenues of 5000 crore by 2015.

The company started from 2 employees and now has around 4500 employees. Flipkart started with consignment model as discussed above, since most of the customer issues like delivery delays etc. result from procurement model, the company started opening its own warehouses as it started getting more investments. The company opened its first warehouse in Bangalore and later on opened warehouses in Delhi, Kolkatta and Mumbai. Today the company works with more than 500 suppliers. As on date more than 80% orders of Flipkart are handled via warehouses which helps in quick and efficient service.

A humble beginning from books, Flipkart now has a gamut of products ranging from: Cell phones, laptops, computers, cameras, games, music, audio players, TV's, healthcare products, washing machines etc. etc. Still, Flipkart derives around 50% of its revenue from selling books online. Flipkart is the Indian market leader in selling books both offline and online, it enjoys an online share of around 80%. The electronic items have a large number of players like Naaptol, Letsbuy, Indiaplaza, Tradus, Infibeam, Yebhi etc. The electronic market share is distributed among them in different unknown proportions.

India has around 13.5 crore internet users today where as the number of homes with Cable and Satellite (C&S) television is 10.5 crore. The expected...
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