This disruption by Flipkart virtually opened the e-commerce market in India. When Flipkart introduced cash-on-delivery (CoD), only 0.5 % of the population used credit cards. Most customers did not shop online as they did not own cards. CoD allowed consumers to buy goods and pay for them in cash after the product was delivered. This was an industry-defining innovation that made an immense impact upon the market. Today, over 60% of online purchases in India are paid in cash on delivery.
This was another disruption introduced by Flipkart to get new customers on board. Many customers did not shop online as they missed the touch-and-feel experience of a traditional shop and were unsure of the product that they were buying. Responding to this concern, Flipkart introduced a no-questions-asked return/replacement policy so that customers could return any product that they were not happy with. This easy return policy was not available in India in even offline retail and it contributed immensely to the growth of e-commerce.
Before 2014, brands traditionally launched their products offline and then included e-commerce as an additional distribution platform. In 2014, Flipkart changed the game completely. When Google-owned Motorola relaunched the brand in India in February 2014, it chose to go exclusively with Flipkart bypassing the traditional retail channel. In five months, Motorola sold one million smartphones, becoming among the fastest smartphone brands to reach the figure. Since then, dozens of brands have chosen to launch exclusively with Flipkart including Xiaomi, Lenovo, Le Eco, Vu Tv, etc.
In India, mobile network is patchy and most users have low-storage phones, which makes running resource-intensive mobile apps a bit of an inconvenience. In 2015, in order to encourage more customers to experience e-commerce, Flipkart introduced Flipkart Lite, a first-in-the-world product that combines the richness of a native app with the ease of use and lightweight nature of the web. Flipkart Lite loads faster and offers better experience for users in areas with patchy network. It also lets users access past searches, even if they are in poor network connectivity zones. This technology of progressive web apps has now inspired several companies, including Linkedin, to launch similar products.
Less than 1% of Indians have access to credit cards, and the traditional banking industry has been slow in addressing the need for small personal loans. Access to small-ticket loans for shopping needs is challenging and the process is often cumbersome for Indian consumers. Flipkart’s No Cost EMI entails zero processing fee, zero down payment and zero interest for customers. Unlike offline offerings, where customers have to make a down payment and pay a processing fee to avail interest-free schemes, Flipkart’s offering has no such hidden costs. This move by Flipkart made high value products like smartphones, TVs, refrigerators, etc. affordable to a large section of Indians.
Indians by nature are value-seeking customers. They want full value for their old goods. The concept of recycling is an age-old concept in India, which has had the tradition of kabadiwalas for centuries. Householders sell old newspapers and exchange old clothes for utensils. Taking a leaf out of this book, Flipkart introduced easy product exchange, wherein customers are given full value for their old goods which is immediately exchanged with a new product. The valuation of the product is done online and then it is exchanged when the new product is delivered, making the process seamless. Easy product exchange has not only fulfilled a unique Indian need, but also made new products more affordable for Indians.
Indians love to change their mobile phones. On an average, people switch to new phones within 12 to 14 months of their purchase, however, the market for refurbished goods is unorganised in India. To help their customers benefit and upgrade themselves to the latest technology within a short period of time, Flipkart launched the Assured Buyback guarantee. Under this offer, Flipkart promises to buy back a smartphone at an assured price, ensuring maximum return to the consumers.