Flipkart’s strong homegrown technology capabilities, extensive leadership in the consumer e-commerce segment, and its vast supply chain infrastructure helps kiranas and MSMEs reach across the country
The Flipkart Group is one of India’s leading digital commerce entities and includes group companies Flipkart, Myntra, Flipkart Health+, Flipkart Wholesale, and Cleartrip.
Started in 2007, Flipkart has enabled millions of consumers, sellers, merchants, and small businesses to be a part of India’s digital commerce revolution, with a registered customer base of more than 400 million, offering over 150 million products across 80+ categories. The brand’s efforts to democratise commerce in India, drive access and affordability, delight customers, has created lakhs of jobs in the ecosystem, and empowered generations of entrepreneurs and MSMEs.
Flipkart is known for pioneering services such as Cash on Delivery, No Cost EMI and easy returns – customer-centric innovations have made online shopping more accessible and affordable for millions of Indians.
In an exclusive interaction, Koteshwar L N, Business Head, Flipkart Wholesale talks about the brand journey, services, loyalty programs, changing consumer behaviour and day to day exciting offers.
Talk to us about the brand journey and the services provided. How has the business model changed in the post pandemic time?
Today, 75-80 per cent of all consumer goods are sold through small Kirana stores in India through a fragmented distribution channel. Through our home-grown technology, pan-India network, and robust supply chain, we aim to focus on meeting the needs of kiranas and ensuring business prosperity. Enabling one-stop access to an extensive selection of products, we provide them with data-driven insights and recommendations for relevant stock selection thereby, increasing customer retention and growth.
The pandemic propelled several kirana members to tap into newer business opportunities to ensure customer stickiness and continuity. At Flipkart Wholesale, we follow a 3-pronged approach: in-store where members can walk-in to avail of exciting offers and our wide selection of products; the e-commerce platform where the same array of products and services are available through our online channel; and the assisted format where our sales associates help members with their business needs.
Over the years, we have supported millions of small businesses through our home-grown technology and innovation to drive greater digital inclusion. We are committed to addressing the pain points of our members operating across India and delivering value to them.
How are you driving greater digitization for kiranas throughout the country? Throw light on the impact of digitalization on the industry from your brand perspective?
Flipkart Wholesale has been at the forefront in leveraging technology and innovation to solve challenges in B2B e-commerce transactions. To cater to the heterogeneous user base that we have and to solve for the language barrier, we have introduced innovative features such as ‘Voice Search’ on the app that uses commands in Hindi and English and enables members to transact easily on the platform. To drive higher adoption of e-commerce among walk-in members while enabling an easy shopping experience with faster checkouts, we introduced ‘Scan2buy’ for our members. Easy access to credit facilities is another roadblock that MSMEs are grappling with even till today. Flipkart Wholesale is working towards providing easy access to credit so that every kirana member can accelerate their business and bring in cost and operational efficiency. In-line with this effort, we have partnered with multiple leading fintech players to roll out credit solutions, such as Buy-Now-Pay-Later, to enable them to make larger purchases to scale their inventory, even if they don’t have that amount of cash on hand. Through such partnerships, we have been able to address the credit challenge of our 1.5 lakh members who can opt for entirely digital and instant credit.
Our core value proposition lies in offering a hassle-free shopping experience on the app and digitalizing businesses of small retailers. As a technology enabler, we will continue to create more innovations that will make digital commerce more inclusive, accessible, and convenient for existing as well as new members.
Elaborate on the Flipkart Wholesale’s commitment to delivering deeper value for customers/ members with a wide range and selection, loyalty programs, and unique benefits to provide a superior service experience. Has it changed under current circumstances?
Our focus has always been on offering value with convenience to our members. In order to nurture our customer relationships and make shopping more rewarding, we recently launched ‘E-Save Easy’, a first-of-its-kind exclusive and invite-only loyalty program where members are able to enjoy significant benefits over and above our everyday exciting offers.
Today, we work with several regional brands to help them scale their business and bring them at par with the national players. We have further intensified our efforts and focus on local brands to help them gain access to the pan-India marketplace and transcend their regional boundaries. The strong technology base and in-depth market knowledge upon which Flipkart Wholesale was built, enables a growth ecosystem where MSMEs get access to an efficient supply chain network, credit support and Kiranas benefit from access to a wide array of products, assured quality, speedy delivery and hassle-free returns. The market insights offered through the platform also helps our members make informed decisions on products that are in demand.
Throw light on the sustainable business model of the brand, focusing on the tech & innovation and investments in the supply chain?
All our efforts in product development are centered around one major pillar – convenience for our members. Hence, we consistently strive for making our proposition of ‘Business BanayeAasaan’ stronger for our Kirana partners through constant tech launches, innovations to the market, and using technology to solve member challenges. In order to deliver a superior shopping experience to our members, we rolled out a feature called ‘Scan 2 Buy’ where a member while sitting at his home/store can replenish SKUs without visiting wholesale stores with reduced steps for adding items in the cart. In addition, members who walk in our wholesale stores, this feature helps by reducing the waiting period and having a seamless customer journey experience. Within 10-days of its launch, we saw a 30% jump in e-commerce adoption by walk-in members.
Further, we observed that the usual search module in apps can be difficult as typing or spelling errors can be a bottleneck for kirana members while shopping. To this, we launched another tech-driven feature called ‘Voice Search’ in our apps wherein the customer can search for products in English and Hindi with simple commands, after which the app will show all relevant results similar to how the result will be if searched through typing.
Overall, our vision is to help MSMEs grow their brands with the right core value proposition as levers. Being part of the Flipkart group, it gives Flipkart Wholesale an edge as we are able to leverage Flipkart’s strong homegrown technology capabilities, extensive leadership in the consumer e-commerce segment, and its vast supply chain infrastructure to reach kiranas and MSMEs across the country. This helps us build a sustainable business (low-cost model in B2B) leading to sustainable growth. As we focus on delivering value and driving greater operational efficiencies, we are committed to digitally transform our kirana and MSME members by helping them grow faster and empowering them to scale in a sustainable manner.
How is Flipkart Wholesale driving higher adoption and enablement for kirana members through programs aimed at greater adoption of e-commerce in the B2B segment to drive more digital inclusion?
MSMEs and Kiranas form an integral part of the Indian economy. However, MSMEs continue to face challenges due to an outdated distribution model. Combining the expertise of Flipkart Group and Flipkart Wholesale, our aim is to transform the B2B ecosystem with technology and innovation. We leverage Flipkart’s strong homegrown technology capabilities, extensive leadership in the consumer e-commerce segment, and unique understanding of the industry in India to drive value for our members. Flipkart Wholesale also harnesses the Flipkart Group’s vast supply chain infrastructure to reach kiranas and MSMEs across the country. Given our deep merchandising experience, strong relationships with brands, proven expertise in servicing kiranas, and extensive experience of operating in the space, we are uniquely positioned to provide invaluable insights and on-ground expertise to further develop and nurture a model that puts the needs of kiranas and MSMEs at the center of Flipkart Wholesale’s business. Some of our flagship programs such as ‘VyapariDiwas’ and ‘MahaMunafa’ are directed towards accelerating adoption and enablement for the kiranas to further help them yield better profits and boosted sales.
Flipkart Wholesale’s role in providing opportunities for businesses and partners who are part of the platform’s B2B ecosystem to grow and prosper?
Our strong focus is on meeting the needs of kiranas and MSMEs by providing them with a wide selection at significant value, powered by technology to make their lives easier. Whether in grocery or general merchandise, these businesses will have one-stop access to an extensive selection of products with attractive schemes and incentives, supplemented with data-driven recommendations for stock selection, delivered through a fast and reliable network to drive greater efficiencies and better margins.
Our assisted and unassisted channels help with the business journey of our members, creating an increased ease of doing business. By unlocking the true potential of technology and innovation, Flipkart Wholesale today serves millions of MSMEs and Kiranas across India where they are able to benefit from the entire spectrum of benefits / features ranging from easy credit access, smart selection of products, simple and convenient order returns, several cost saving schemes, and an option to choose from an expansive range of products that they can trust.
Tell us about the marketing strategy highlighting the current situation?
While we are focusing on members visiting our wholesale stores and providing them with the best-in-class experience with fresh themes, round the year events, such as VyapariDiwas, Summer Mela, Monsoon Mela, and MahaMunafa Utsav. We are also aligned to digitize the customer journey for further ease. Hence, we have doubled down our efforts for the wholesale e-commerce – not only do we have an unassisted channel where our members can visit and shop on our app, but also an assisted channel where our sales associates visit our members’ stores, discuss about app usage, guide them on how to use the app, place orders and showcase the benefits of our membership. Similar to in-store, there is a continuous refresh of themes, deals, campaigns on the app, such as MahaBachat Weekend, Flipkart Wholesale Days to offer our members the best service possible.
Talk to us about the new consumer shopping behaviour? Which categories are witnessing the demand in sale and why?
We have witnessed a soaring demand for regional brands especially in categories like Refined Oils, Packaged Tea, Atta, etc. This is mainly seen in General Trade which contributes ~80 per cent of retail space and is also our core customer base. As a result, the consumers are looking for affordable alternatives resulting in an increased inclination towards regional brands with significant demand for essentials (staples & home care). Parallelly, the price sensitivity and convenience of having everything under one roof has led Modern Trade and E-com channels to grow significantly.