Flipkart Steps Into Offline Selling World
Flipkart will now have an offline sales presence in what is being seen as a major move to reach out to those segments of the population that are not comfortable with the internet.
It is starting what it calls an assisted e-commerce model and, for now, this will be restricted to phones. Under this, customers can touch and feel the phone in designated stores, and the shopkeeper will help the not-sotech-savvy customers through order placement on the Flipkart app.
Customers can take the delivery at their home or at the same store. While the company will have such stores in big cities, it sees the bigger opportunity among customers in tier-3 and -4 towns. Currently, the Flipkart experience centres are available inside 30 outlets, across 19 cities, of the mobile retail chain Spice Hotspot.
The company intends to expand the programme rapidly and says it is in talks with eight to ten other offline mobile retail chains.
Mobiles contribute 65% of sales on Flipkart, according to a recent report by brokerage firm Nomura. During the recent Big Billion Days sales, Flipkart sold $200 million worth of mobile phones, out of its total sales of $300 million. “This is targeted mainly at places where online shopping is still catching up. Customers in tier-3 and tier-4 towns have heard about online shopping but are still circumspect,” Ankit Nagori, chief business officer at Flipkart, told TOI. Nagori said that once these customers got a taste of online, they would buy online the next time. “This is going to be a big customer conversion tool for us in the smartphone category,” he said.
The Flipkart experience centre is seen to be particularly important for brands like Motorola and Alcatel that retail only through Flipkart. A certain segment of customers like to see the physical phone before buying it, and that’s where experience centres help.
Flipkart is by no means a pioneer in assisted e-commerce. Multi-product e-commerce startups like Store-King, iPay and eDabba follow this model to cater to small towns.