Careers at Flipkart
Flipkart’s mission is to provide customers with a delightful experience.
Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal (no relation) graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi in 2005, both with degrees in Computer Science. The two served at different firms for a year before landing on the same team at Amazon. Eager to work for themselves, they brainstormed startup ideas. They considered creating a service that compared prices between different online Indian retailers. However, they realized that there weren’t enough sites to merit such an offering. As such, they moved in a different direction – deciding to launch an eCommerce site of their own.
The two convinced their respective parents to give them a $10,000 a month allowance to support their dream. They then worked feverishly for 18 months from their two-bedroom apartment to get it off the ground. In October 2007 they unveiled Flipkart, a website selling books. They waited day-after-day for a purchase. Ten days after launch, a consumer placed an order for a book about Microsoft by John Wood, giving them hope. They ramped up their marketing efforts, traveling across Bangalore to obtain orders from small distributors, and standing outside bookstores to hand company-branded bookmarks to customers who had just made a purchase.
The Bansals soon determined that books were not enough to turn a healthy profit, so they broadened out their offerings to other categories, such as apparel, electronics, and office supplies. Sales grew significantly after this change, and their strong performance attracted investors. The next few years saw many successful rounds of funding. In 2011 FlipKart raised $20 million in a round led by Tiger Global Management; in 2012, they raised $150 million in around led by Naspers. In 2014, it raised $700 million. The company’s good fortune also enabled it to grow through acquisitions. Its targets included social book tool WeRead, digital content platform Mime360, Bollywood news site Chakpak.com, electronics retailer Letsbuy.com, and mobile marketing firm Appiterate.
Even with all these changes, the biggest transformation Flipkart made was changing its business model. It originally acted as a direct seller of products; however, realizing an opportunity for more revenue, it became a marketplace where third-party merchants could sell their wares along with the company’s own goods. Flipkart is now one of the top retailers in India. In February 2016, investment firm Morgan Stanley estimated its value at $11 billion. Not bad for a humble startup.
Business model of Flipkart
Flipkart has a multi-sided business model, with two interdependent customer segments that are both needed in order to operate:
Suppliers: Manufacturers and retailers that make their merchandise available on the website.
Consumers: Individuals who visit the website and purchase available items.
Flipkart offers five primary value propositions: accessibility, convenience, price, risk reduction, and brand/status.
The company increases accessibility by making it possible for merchants who do not have a website to sell their products through its channel. This is particularly essential for many small retailers.
The company creates convenience for consumers by offering a wide variety of items (over 30 million products) in numerous categories (70+) from multiple vendors (over 85,000) in a centralized channel. It also provides flexibility by enabling buyers to pay using a variety of methods, including credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, and cash on delivery. For merchants, Flipkart offers convenience by guaranteeing payments (deposited directly) within 5-7 business days of processing an order.
The company offers consumers a lower price than they would receive from physical outlets because it has lower operating expenses. It does not have to worry about many overhead costs, allowing it to pass savings onto customers. It also implements frequent promotions such as “Deals of the Day.”
The company reduces risk by providing the “Flipkart Advantage.” This is a label given to certain merchants that confirms that their products have been checked for quality by Flipkart. The items are also supported by a 30-day replacement guarantee and a same-day delivery option. For vendors, it offers the Seller Protection Program, which protects firms from losses due to failed payments.
The company has established a strong brand due to its success, and bills itself as India’s leading online retailer. It has 75 million registered customers who make 10 million visits to its website daily. Further, it makes 8 million shipments a month to more than 1,000 cities.
Flipkart’s main channel is its website, through which it acquires both merchants and buyers. The company also promotes its offerings through its mobile app.
Flipkart’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service, automated nature for consumers. Customers utilize the website while having limited interaction with employees. The site has a “Help & FAQs” section with detailed answers to common questions. With merchants, Flipkart’s relationship is more of a personal assistance nature. The company offers a 24/7 customer service phone line for vendors. It also provides training that covers topics such as merchandising and order fulfillment.
Flipkart’s business model entails maintaining a robust platform between two parties: merchants and consumers. The platform includes its website and mobile app.
Flipkart maintains relationships with “eCommerce Service Providers”, third-party firms that offer the following services to suppliers:
Cataloging – The firms ensure sellers‘ product descriptions are clear and have pleasing photos.
Logistics – The firms offer order fulfilment through more than 120 pick-up hubs while using over 10,000 delivery employees.
Capital – Flipkart’s Growth Capital program features a network of partners who provide financial assistance to suppliers for their business needs. The funds are offered at competitive rates with a quick turnaround time.
Flipkart also maintains an affiliate program through which it tasks members with promoting the site on their platforms (websites, mobile apps, etc.). Traffic that results in purchases leads to a commission for the partners. Program members receive affiliate tools such as banners, widgets, and APIs for their sites. They also have access to real-time reports on customer referral traffic.
Flipkart’s main resource is its technology personnel who maintain and upgrade its website. Another important human resource is its service personnel who provide support to customers, as well as a 24/7 presence for sellers. There are important physical assets in the form of its state-of-the-art fulfillment centers, where products are stored. Lastly, as a start-up it has relied heavily on funding from investors, raising $3.15 billion from 16 companies as of July 2015.
Flipkart has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through significant automation and low-price value propositions. Its biggest cost driver is likely transaction expenses, a fixed cost, as it has many different types of fees. Other major drivers are in the areas of customer support and administration, both fixed costs.
Flipkart has three revenue streams:
Transaction Fees – The company charges a “marketplace fee” for all successfully completed orders. This fee includes the following sub-fees:
- Shipping Fee – Based on shipping location and product weight
- Fixed Closing Fee – A small transaction fee for closed orders
- Selling Commission – Represents a percentage of the sales price (varies by category and subcategory)
Sellers are charged a service tax that totals 14.5% of the marketplace fee.
Subscription Fees – The company operates “Flipkart First”, a promotional subscription program that costs Rs. 500 per year. Members receive the following benefits, among others:
- No minimum purchase price
- Free shipping on orders
- Discounted same-day delivery
- 24/7 customer service
- Exclusive product offers
Advertising Fees – The company charges fees to third-parties that want to advertise their offerings through its website and in its mobile app.
info: Binnyearned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). He previously served as Chief Operating Officer of Flipkart and as a Software Engineer at Sarnoff and Amazon.
info: Sachin earned a Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Engineering at IIT. He previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Flipkart, as a Senior Software Engineer at Amazon Web Services, and as an Associate at Techspan.
info: Sanjay earned a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Delhi. He previously served as the CFO of Tata Communications and Emaar MGF Land Limited. He has more than 19 years of experience in finance, real estate, and telecommunications.
info: Surojit earned a B.S. in Computer Science from IIT Kharagpur, an M.S. in Computer Science from SUNY Buffalo, and an MBA from MIT. He was formerly the global head of Mobile Search Advertising and AdSense for Search at Google.
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