When it comes to Online selling strategy, there have always been some golden rules that apply from customer acquisition to retention, and Flipkart knew that very well.
Flipkart has recently been the topic of discussion in the business world since its acquisition by Walmart for approximately $16 billion. Who could have imagined that a startup founded by two IIT grad could make it that big within a decade?
Flipkart was founded in late 2007 by two IIT grad & friends Sachin Bansal & Binny Bansal.
It was not even 5 years after its founding that the Giant Amazon started its expansion in India starting with Junglee.com, an online portal for comparing products online & later expanded to shopping as well.
With less than less than a couple years, many other e-commerce websites launched in India and Flipkart now had a number of rivals including the Giant (Amazon) itself.
But Of all surprise, Flipkart was able to retain the maximum market share before the acquisition.
What does that mean to your business?
Is it good to dream big?
What is those golden online selling strategy?
How to grow your business online in this competitive era?
So, Here is the kick. It doesn’t mean you should not start something if there is already one. In fact, you should be happy that there is sope in your niche since you have a competitor. And competitors matter the least if you do it right. This has already been proved by Flipkart who could disrupt the Indian e-commerce market despite the presence of e-commerce giant, Amazon.
With that much said, Let’s note down some major considerable points that Flipkart dominated throughout its existence and made it to the unicorn level:
Understanding your local audience is one of the most important factors of a startup success and Flipkart knew that well. Right from its launch, Flipkart was able to understand the requirement of Indian Customers. With the right approach towards product pricing & delivery, Flipkart started to gain popularity from the very beginning.
This led them to win trust over customers (who were little known about online shopping & all at that time). As a result, even the biggest player like Amazon found it difficult to capture the e-commerce market in India despite its immense financial backup, Brand & technology.
Technology is one of those things that can decide your company’s future. Remember Flipkart started in India when people were used to surfing internet in Kbps speed. Not many people had smartphones in their hand and very few of them had the idea of online shopping. Time changed & so did technology.
Smartphone started to be used extensively in the country and that gave a rise to Mobile website & application trend. Flipkart showed its flexibility with the web development trend and decided to go App only in 2015, and launched Flipkart Lite. This was one of the biggest decisions to be made on behalf of the company and of course that paid the most as well. Flipkart Lite proved to be the biggest success in their history.
Ever since Flipkart didn’t stop and continued to disrupt the e-commerce market in the country.
Right Marketing strategy at the right time
Flipkart evolved itself as a pioneer online shopping brand in a country where maximum people had no idea about e-Commerce and online payment at that time.
It was never easy to aware people about online shopping where people had very little or no trust in virtual shopping. It was right marketing strategy at the right time that led Flipkart’s success in the e-commerce battle in India.
With the tagline of “Flipkart matlab bilkul pakka”, they earned the trust of local customers and expanded their marketing approach digitally. It was the Digital marketing strategies that made them a huge success. You might have heard about the most famous Flipkart’s marketing strategy “Big Billon sale”.
With a vision of “ab har wish hogi puri”, Flipkart changed the course of shopping in India. They turned the hobby of the Indian customer and fascinated people with their sales, offers & coupons. As a result, People now were comfortable shopping for their favorite products online.
This was the biggest achievement for Flipkart. And now was the time to pitch the right thing at the right time. With a brilliant creative advertising & marketing, Flipkart made it possible to create themselves as one of the home brands in the Indian market. Word of Mouth Marketing and Audience targeted Tv commercials went on to become one of the greatest assets for the company.
Managed Advertising Budget
Flipkart was started with INR 4 lacs by Bansal partners. They went slowly & steadily, understood the audience & their requirements & fulfilled accordingly.
In 2009, it had revenue of around 3 crores and later got further fundings in 2010.
It was only in 2012 when Flipkart threw 24 sec commercials in the Tv. They exactly knew their financial budget, marketing plan & the right time for Tv commercials. Flipkart Kids advertisements have been one of the most creative till date. It has been appraised worldwide for its outstanding marketing plan & content.
By the time, Flipkart’s commercial was Aired on Tv, they had already gained pretty much Trust & loyalty from the customers. So, it was not a much difficult job for them to expand their reach and take large orders now. This was now time for an expansion.
It is thus always important to have a pre-planned marketing & advertising plan for a consistent growth. And Creativity is the must, in either case.
With a master marketing & Advertising plan, they managed to acquire customers. But it was their right approach for product quality, pricing & delivery that led to a customer satisfaction and ultimately winning trust over customers. This led them to win customer loyalty and a good word of mouth marketing.
Major Factors that led them to build trust were:
Price: The mission was to make online shopping accessible for both rich & middle-class people and Price of a product was very important for the company success. They collaborated with different product vendors which give them a freedom of having multiple products under different pricing. And they could now made things accessible for all middle-class people as well.
They generated a sense of assurance & reliability by incepting “Flipkart assured Seller” and this ultimately created trust among the buyers.
From the very first phase, Flipkart gave priority to both sellers & buyers. They collaborated with thousands of product vendors across the country and thus had multiple products availability.
If you could not find a book at a local vendor, you could get it on Flipkart. This was once the case in the Indian market. This created a brand awareness among the buyers. This helped Flipkart throughout its enitire journey. As a result, Buyers had now multiple choices to buy.
Expansions & Acquisitions
Flipkart’s success story is incomplete without its expansion, acquisitions & other Online selling strategies over time for its business growth.
Founded in 2007, Flipkart could only manage to ship 20 deliveries till the closing year with only 2 employees, which were their co-founders.
Opening their first office in Bangalore & providing 24/7 customer care service to its growing customer base in 2009, Flipkart was now able to gain some popularity & word of mouth marketing.
After getting a proper funding in 2009, they now went on to focus on managed delivery system and opening their own warehouses across the country. Providing Cash on Delivery (CoD) in the Indian market was a brave decision and obviously a worthy one. Later, they went onto launch Flipkart Lite with a vision to make Flipkart accessible to slow internet connection areas as well.
These were some of the important expansion plans of Flipkart that are a big example of flexibility when it comes to online business.
Someone has said it right, “If you find it difficult to compete, acquire them”. This was one of the perfect examples of online selling strategy that was implemented by Flipkart over the course of time.
Flipkart acquired WeRead, a social book discovery tool that would give help buyer make an informed decision about the book based on the recommendation. Since it started as an online bookstore, this was a smart move.
They also acquired Mine360, a digital content platform company in 2011 and Letsbuy.com, one of the pioneer e-commerce platform of that time in 2012. It was acquired by Flipkart in $25m.
Soon after in 2014, They acquired Myntra, which was one of the largest growing e-commerce platform in south India in INR 2,000 crore. This gave Flipkart a broader brand & presence with lower competition.
Events & Offers
Since Flipkart was started by Indian nationals, they knew what miracle could event discounts & offers bring to the business. They were quite competitive in pricing from the very beginning.
Since they took fewer commissions from the seller compared to competitor Amazon, that gave sellers a freedom to quote lesser price than others. This gave Flipkart a greater advantage and it is, therefore, customers could see more discounts & offer here.
On top of that Flipkart’s “Big Billion sales” has really been worth billions for them. All thanks to digital marketing & advertising with a faster delivery & brilliant customer satisfaction.
With 20 shipments in its founding year, it was never easy to tackle with the delivery issue. When it comes to Online selling strategy, delivery is one of the most important things and Flipkart knew that very well. At the starting phase, they made it easier for Indian buyers to buy a book online in quicker time at their doorsteps. Later they managed to open their own warehouses after expanding its categories.
This was a smart move from the company side And of course, Cash on the Delivery system introduced by Flipkart was a revolutionary one in the Indian market. This created a greater trust for them among Indian buyers which gave them a supremacy in the e-commerce battle in India.
In just a few years of its launch, Flipkart started their own logistics in 2009, which was called eKart and provided a faster home delivery across the country.
Flipkart has proved to be the biggest success in the Indian eCommerce market and it has been their combined effort of everything from technology to audience to marketing & advertising. It has been a decade journey and things have not always been easy for them either. But it was an overall a best example of passion, dedication, marketing, branding and a perfect online selling strategy that led to a huge success.
Message to startups
Online selling strategy has never been easy for startups in this competitive era. As you are in an online business, it is necessary to take care of all the aspects. However, there are certain things that you need to extra focus on.
- Focus on technology
- Focus on Audience
- Focus on marketing
- Focus on Customer Retention
So, These were some of the top online selling strategies that led to Flipkart’s success. What do you think is the most important aspect of your startup? Let us know your thoughts & suggestions in the comment below.