India: Flipkart aims to recreate offline experience with themed stores

Visual from the Flipkart website, September 2015

Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce marketplace, is designing ways to create more themed stores for its shoppers by bundling products meant for weddings, travel, kids and sports activities, as it aims to make product discovery more personalized, encourage people to browse, and get more data on shoppers, a top executive said.

The stores that have been in a test-marketing phase for the past six months will gain more traction on the company’s mobile application towards the end of the year as the virtual retailer tries to replicate offline shopping experiences on its app, said Ankit Nagori, chief business officer at Flipkart Internet Pvt. Ltd.

The stores are an alternative tool for product discovery for the marketplace that is devising newer ways to interact with shoppers, according to Nagori.

“It’s like a big hypermart where different floors are meant for different categories. Rather than shoppers searching for different products, sections are given to a certain category. So we are doing that too, taking the offline experience online,” he added.

Consumers, he added, are used to shopping in a certain way offline and replicating the experience online is “where we are heading”.

The company has opened 10 such stores around kids, wedding, sports fitness, travel, home decor, and women’s fashion.

The move is also aimed at making product discovery easier.

Flipkart sells 30 million products across 70 categories. Nagori said that the stores could also become “default tools of discovery for certain categories as and when consumers adapt to it. Whatever requires visual representation will do well here”.

Such stores help increase visibility for these products and they can become particularly effective on the mobile app, which allows e-commerce companies to show products according to each user’s preference rather than the desktop’s one-size-fits-all kind of showcase.

Amazon India, for instance, has several store-in-stores on its app including ones for wedding products and gift cards. Nagori said Flipkart’s own approach to these special stores will be app- focused.

Analysts say this is a natural evolution for e-commerce.

“Just as modern trade has built specialized retail formats with departmental stores so will e-commerce,” said Ajay Kelkar, chief operating officer at Hansa Cequity, a marketing analytics company that is helping offline retailers move online. The idea is to encourage browsing.

The stores, added Kelkar, will be far more useful to generate clicks as opposed to actual sales realization.

“The biggest metric would be what percentage of shoppers are visiting these stores,” said Nagori. The stores are aiding the company’s attempt to mine personalized data far better where the “best case would be fully customized store for every individual who shops on Flipkart”.

Meanwhile, some retailers such as eyewear retailer Lenskart, and furniture and home furnishings store Pepperfry have opened stores in high streets that allow shoppers to interact with the brand.

Also Read: India: Flipkart, Snapdeal, Paytm plan hyperlocal push

Small Indian e-retailers face the heat as big rivals FlipKart, Snapdeal, Amazon expand

The article was first published on Livemint.com

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.