Author(s): Peter Bryer
Can the Amazon of India outmanoeuvre Amazon in India?
Indian e-commerce retailer Flipkart — a self-described "megastore with multi categories" — is powering forward, establishing itself as one of the most important electronics distribution channels in the country. A few days ago, Flipkart introduced its first own-brand tablet, the Digiflip Pro. Priced at 9,999 rupees ($165), the 3G Digiflip Pro is a seven-inch, dual-SIM, quad-core, voice-enabled Android device. Does that make it a really big smartphone? Yes, it does — multi-device ownership isn't very common in India, so consumers are looking for an all-rounder. Dual-SIM devices are always in demand in India, and Flipkart may have hit a sweet spot with their mega phone.
The Flipkart tablet connects to the retailer's e-book store, and comes with generous free content downloads to get users started. Flipkart's executives say they are building "an entire e-commerce ecosystem in India", and are using customer data to predict which services the market demands.
CCS Insight recently wrote about Xiaomi's plans to launch sales in India (see It's Still Early for Smartphones in India), and Flipkart has made a deal with Xiaomi to be the launch partner for Mi smartphones in the country. Xiaomi's decision to work with Flipkart will help it to better compete against popular local brands such as Micromax and Karbonn. Xiaomi is renowned for "flash sales" of its popular devices, in which handsets are sold by the tens of thousands in a matter of minutes (see Event Report: Mobile Asia Expo 2014). We believe that Xiaomi will employ the same innovative marketing tactics in its partnership with Flipkart, and that Xiaomi will establish itself as a top-five global smartphone brand in 2014 thanks in part to the Indian market.
These are pivotal times for Flipkart, as the company looks to compete against Indian and foreign retailers including Amazon, which is establishing itself in the country. Flipkart is still privately held, but has received substantial interest from investors who are helping to fund the company's revenue-before-profits strategy. Flipkart is establishing itself as one of the most important distribution channels in India for smart devices and content. For those looking to understand the booming Indian market, it's a company worth checking out.