Why Flipkart is more than just an ‘e-commerce’ company


In the last seven years of its dream run, Flipkart has achieved much beyond what Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal imagined in 2007. Whether it is $2.5 billion in funding raised from 16 investors in 11 rounds, the $12 billion valuation, or the 33,000 employee strength; the e-commerce giant has scaled in all spheres of the business. From achieving a $1B valuation in 2012 to being valued at almost $12B, the company’s exponential growth in the last two years has been an indication of the relentless efforts put by the team and the immense potential of Indian startups.

Since the beginning, there have been several occasions when the Bansals have paused and reflected upon their journey. After riding on the e-commerce wave, Flipkart is taking the next step and is now looking to be leading the data and mobile front.

In an engaging fireside chat, Binny Bansal shared Flipkart’s world class ambitions with Shradha Sharma, Founder of YourStory.com.

Reorganizing the structure

With the technology and resources available to work on massive data, Flipkart is looking to evolve as a market leader in data, mobile and platform. The company is already restructuring itself to proceed along this way. Binny says,

“More than 75% of our traffic is from mobile. We have over 30 million registered users clocking over 10 million visits per day. With these statistics we see it a natural move to focus on how to get the best of the data and leverage on mobile. We can also do a lot more justice to our sellers by enhancing our platform’s capabilities for them.”

Flipkart is seeing its future as:

  1. Mobile – Increase in number of users on mobile and the share of mobile traffic overall. Additional capabilities and experiences for the consumer on mobile.
  2. Data – Analyzing the data to enable more personalized shopping experience for the consumer, and evolve as a smarter platform with automated solutions to security and other glitches.
  3. Platform – Providing better control to the seller and making them more connected to the consumer. Also, working on the broader range so as to utilize the platform for effective usage.

The business aspect

Flipkart is currently targeting three broad domains –

  1. Commerce – the customer and seller side where the online shopping is taking place.
  2. Supply chain – the logistics, inventory and employee management to fulfill the commerce part.
  3. Advertisements – Because of its massive user base and access to their habits of buying, Flipkart has decided to foray into advertisement. They have also acquired Adequity recently.

Binny says,

Right now, sellers do not have their destiny in their control and there’s only so much they can do to get discovered by the prospective customers. Ads will help sellers and brands with the discovery among its targeted audience. Not only for Flipkart seller, but for outside people also it is equally useful given the great insights we have on our users.”

Onboarding the 33000 right Flipsters

If the growth and journey of Flipkart is a huge jigsaw puzzle, then the toughest part of solving this puzzle has been around hiring the right talent. Binny says,

“Times have changed. Today, the biggest recruiters in the premier institutes across the country aren’t consultancy or financial firms but the e-commerce companies. And we have to be bang on at this. Not only this, but hiring the senior level management with domain expertise is also crucial as we grow bigger. Even if it means getting the right people from Silicon Valley, we have done that.

Sachin and I invest a lot of time in this exercise. Sometimes we tend to miss this, but getting people off-board is equally important as on-boarding them. And this has to be done even faster as it affects the efficiency and processes more.”

The inflexion point of Indian startup ecosystem

Binny accepts that with the infusion of capital and increase in the number of startups in the country, we are approaching the inflexion point. He says,

“When you see relatives and friends interested in getting internships in startups, you know that we are touching that inflexion point where starting up is no more considered out of the world and an unacceptable thing. Today, entrepreneurs and businesses are disrupting in their own way.”

The drive and hunger

The fundamental driving force for Binny has been customer satisfaction. It was the case seven years ago and it holds true today as well. He says,

“We have remained hungry and ambitious right from the beginning. We wanted to be the best company in India and are now chasing the dream to become the best in the world.”

Behind every overnight success story there are sleepless nights, and in the process of crafting Flipkart’s story, Binny has kept awake many times. He says,

“Building the team and keeping them motivated and hungry keeps me awake.”

Like Flipkart, we would all like to believe that this moment just marks the humble entrance of Indian startups in the global arena of valuation and successes. And beyond the billions of dollars of valuation lies the value and experience they are bringing to the consumers. This is what defines a true world class ambition of a world class company.