Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, Founders, Flipkart

Online Book store!

FlipKartThey say that books are man’s best friends but according to the present scenario bookstores are man’s best friends. Being online is a cherry on the top. YourStory brings to you an exciting new way to buy books online in India and thats Flipkart. Flipkart is a passionate and determined group of professionals that wish to create an excellent buying experience for you by leveraging the best of breed technology. Sachin Bansal and Binny bansal are the great brains behind this succesful venture. The duo describes their entrepreneurial yearning in a conversation with YourStory.

Please tell us something about Flipkart?

Flipkart.com is the largest online book store in India. Currently Flipkart has over 4 million titles listed; ranging across all categories such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Literature, Educational, Professional and Technical, Religion and Philosophy, Entertainment, etc.

Where did you get this idea from?

Idea itself is not new. The genesis of the thought to set up Flipkart came from the bad quality service provided by competitors. Our business opportunity was to do better than our competition in terms of ‘service’. Hence, our main mission was to focus on ‘customer service’.  As a start-up company with ambitions in the e-commerce domain, we had to choose a category that could facilitate getting started quickly. The low transaction size  helped induce customer trials. With our strong technology background, we could keep the initial costs low.

What is your target market?

The book market in India is pegged at Rs 10,000 crore of which 1% is being bought online. Flipkart has a market share of 20 – 25% out of the overall online sales. The online segment is growing at 50% year on year as online payments have become more secure. The family of book buyers on Flipkart is spread across the country, with registered buyers in every city and small town today. Currently speeding along at the rate of more than one book sold every minute, we have registered sales of more than five lakh books in the past two years and look forward to a promising future. In India, book readers across the country with internet access could use our services. Our services are also open to book buyers outside the country who can make purchases and have it delivered to their loved ones anywhere in the country.

Why “Flipkart” ?

Filpcark_SachinFilpcark_BinnyAn attractive neutral name is what we looked for. Good domain names were hard to get. We were looking at names that did not just speak of books alone, but one that could suit any category of products that we may add in future. Also, we wanted to have a catchy name with high recall potential. Flipkart could in simple terms mean ‘Flipping things into your Kart’

What sets you apart from other ventures like yours?

The process involved in online shopping for books has gone through drastic changes and is more secure right now. A customer could use our user-friendly web page to place an order, once the order is placed online – the book is taken off the online inventory. In case of unavailability – it will be purchased from a supplier. The Book will then get packed and couriered on the same day. Flipkart is currently tied up with around 12 courier service providers. We also use Indian Postal services to reach areas without courier providers.  Logistics play an important role in our business. Our key differentiators are Availability of variety of goods of various categories, online shopping experience on the site and post sales experience.

Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?

We saw a good opportunity in the market around e-commerce. Also, a regular job was not as challenging. The excitement and satisfaction that comes with building something of a long lasting value is addictive enough for us to continue this.

How has this journey been?

The journey was quite challenging. Getting customers, suppliers, etc to trust has been a challenge. We overcame it by persevering in the face of challenges. We started by identifying people who could trust us initially and slowly built upon our good business relations with them. We had assumed a lot of things, especially around marketing. When those assumptions turned out to be incorrect our business model had to be changed. We have changed directions multiple times and have taken each mistake as a learning experience.

What has been the growth trajectory of Flipkart?

We started off in 2007 by setting up three centers across India without funding. Six months ago, we reached number one status. We are also four times bigger than our nearest competitor. We started off small; today we have grown ten times over the last one year and aim to touch the Rs 100 crore mark by March 2011. We currently have hundred and twenty employees across three centres – New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. We have plans to expand to at least two other cities this year.

Where do you see Flipkart in the coming future?

We aim to reach the Rs. 100 crore mark and hope to expand our operations to many more cities, by 2011. We are planning to enter into sales of products such as DVDs, Electronic gadgets and mobile phones in the near future.

Tell us something about your achievements?

We have been featured in Business Today as one of the top 25 startups of 2009. We were also nominated for Ernst and Young award for the best entrepreneur of 2010. Apart from that we have been featured multiple times in startup news as well as mainstream news. Today, we are recognized as number one in the industry. As a testimony to the superior customer experience, the company has consistently recorded repeat purchase rates of more than 50%. We have also managed to get a registered buyer in every small town and city. We hope to constantly improve our service standards.

Any tips for the coming entrepreneurs?

Don’t start out alone, it helps to have a co-founder when things are not going your way.Perseverance and hard work is very important. The core of any business is to earn money. You have not done your job well until you find a stranger who is willing to open his/her wallet to give you money for the services/products that you a offering. The next step after that is to focus on scaling it up well.

YourStory wishes the duo all the luck and suucess for Flipkart.