Koteshwar L N, Business Head, Flipkart Wholesale on the cash and carry retailer’s efforts to empower kiranas and MSME retailers in the country and make their lives easy
Flipkart is one of the biggest success stories of Indian e-commerce. Acquired by Walmart in 2018 for $16 billion in the world’s largest e-commerce deal, Flipkart today is a diversified group with Flipkart, Myntra, Flipkart Health+, Flipkart Wholesale, and Cleartrip under its umbrella.
In July 2020, Flipkart forayed into the wholesale business by launching Flipkart Wholesale, a new digital marketplace for the country’s mom-and-pop “kirana” grocery stores and other small retailers. As part of this launch, the Group also announced the acquisition of 100% interest in Wal-Mart India Private Limited, which operated the Best Price cash-and-carry business. Flipkart Wholesale sought to draw on the merchandising experience of the Walmart India team, its strong relationships with brands and its deep DNA of servicing kiranas—all accumulated in the 12 years of its existence in India. Since the launch of Flipkart Wholesale, a lot of water has passed under the bridge.
Koteshwar L N, Business Head, Flipkart Wholesale talks about the company’s journey, services, loyalty programs, and changing consumer behaviour in an exclusive interaction.
Tell us about your work with the Kirana stores in the country.
Today, 75-80 per cent of all consumer goods are sold through small Kirana stores in India through a fragmented distribution channel.
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.
We follow a 3-pronged approach: in-store, where members can avail 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 making technology adoption easy for small business owners who may not be digitally savvy or even proficient in English?
To cater to the heterogeneous user base that we have and to solve the language barrier, we have introduced innovative features such as ‘Voice Search’ on the app. This enables members to transact easily on the platform using voice commands in Hindi and English.
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.
With Scan2Buy, those ordering from our app can replenish SKUs without visiting wholesale stores with reduced steps for adding items to the cart. For our in-store members, this feature helps reduce the waiting period and have a seamless journey. Within 10 days of its launch, we saw a 30% jump in e-commerce adoption by walk-in members.
Easy access to credit facilities is a major roadblock that MSMEs are grappling with even today. 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. Through such partnerships, we have been able to address the credit challenges 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.
How do you offer value to your customers?
Our focus has always been on offering value with convenience to our members. 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 can enjoy significant benefits over and above our every day exciting offers.
How do you help regional brands?
We work with several regional brands to help them scale their business and bring them to par with 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 and credit support.
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 help our members make informed decisions on products that are in demand.
Does being a part of the Flipkart Group help?
Being part of the Flipkart group gives us an edge as we can leverage Flipkart’s strong homegrown technology capabilities, extensive leadership in the consumer e-commerce segment, and vast supply chain infrastructure to reach kiranas and MSMEs across the country. This helps us build a sustainable business (the low-cost model in B2B) leading to sustainable growth. We use the group’s unique understanding of the industry in India to drive value for our members.
Given our deep merchandising experience, strong relationships with brands, proven expertise in servicing kiranas, and extensive experience 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 centre of Flipkart Wholesale’s business.
Do shed some light on your marketing strategy.
For members visiting our wholesale stores, we provide 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. In addition to the unassisted channel where our members shop on our app, we also have an assisted channel where our sales associates visit our members’ stores, discuss app usage, guide them on how to use the app, place orders and showcase the benefits of our membership. Similar to in-store, we continuously offer themes, deals, and campaigns on the app, such as MahaBachat Weekend, and Flipkart Wholesale Days to offer our members the best service possible.
|Box: Brand Value
In-store Approach: Members can avail offers and Flipkart’s wide selection of products
E-commerce Platform: The same array of products and services are available through the online channel
Assisted Format: Sales associates help members with their business needs
More about Flipkart
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, and delight customers, have 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. These customer-centric innovations have made online shopping more accessible and affordable for millions of Indians.