Flipkart aims for the big bucks; launches private label for large appliances


Right after a fruitful festive season sale last month, e-commerce market leader Flipkart has launched its first in-house large appliances brand, MarQ. The first product to be launched in this category are microwave ovens, and Flipkart claims they will be priced 10-20 percent lower than products from other brands claiming similar product specifications.

Adarsh Menon, Vice President and Head of Private Labels at Flipkart, told YourStory that the next product launch will be TVs – in about ten days – and will be followed by washing machines, air conditioners, speakers etc. MarQ targets the value customer segment, over 70 percent of large appliance buyers on Flipkart. Large appliances are among the biggest contributors to GMV in retail.

At the Flipkart's manufacturer's warehouse in Shenzhen, China.

Made for India

Claiming that the brand will provide cutting-edge technology in products at affordable prices, Flipkart has tagged it ‘Better. Possible Today’.

Although MarQ products have been manufactured in China, Adarsh assures that they are made keeping in mind the specific needs of the Indian consumer. For instance, he says, India needs 25-litre models and 30-litre models with pre-cook menus.

“The basic product design will fit these needs, as the manufacturing factory (in China) has dieticians and nutrition engineers who focus on Indian food. They enforce it in the basic product design itself so that the final product is customised to the market.”

Adarsh Menon, Vice President and Head of Private Labels at Flipkart.

Additionally, being an online platform, Flipkart has leveraged the data on consumer interests and managed to keep the best prices for MarQ.

Adarsh explains, “The factories we work with are best in the field. Midea, for one, is the largest microwave oven manufacturer in the world. They have access to really deep customer insights and product knowledge, technology to manufacture, and scale as well. So the final product will have features that customers really value, and the scale benefits bring the prices down. Hence, we are able to deliver these products at really low costs.” 

Attention to detail

Flipkart claims that to ensure quality, all manufacturing units producing MarQ products undergo stringent multilevel quality checks with process audit and product performance tests at the factory as well as at independent and world-class testing agencies and live production audit etc.

In fact, every product goes through more than 100 tests (in some cases more than 200 tests) before it is cleared for sale. The microwave manufacturing facility has been credited ISO 9001: 2008, and all products have been tested comprehensively for voltage fluctuation, rust resistance and durability.

Impartial platform

Just like for other brands, MarQ can also be purchased with No Cost EMI and Product Exchange offers. Also, for the post-purchase customer experience, Flipkart offers free installation and warranty as well as service centres in close to 300 cities across the country. Adarsh says that about 1,000 new personnel have been introduced through Flipkart’s service partner Jeevees for the purpose.

“For large appliances, after-sale support is as important as pre-sales. Through Jeeves, we get people to explain the features of the product and then install it for you,” he added. Flipkart claims to be the largest retailer in large appliances; they believe that these factors will be differentiators against its online and offline competitors.  

With the entry of the private label, isn’t there a conflict of interest with other brands selling similar products on the platform?

Adarsh doesn't think so. “Good quality brands need not worry as there is a distinct positioning for brands in customers’ mind. We released our private label nine months ago; so far we have seen that the overall platform benefits from the private label,” he says.

Currently Flipkart has licensed only about 10 sellers to sell MarQ. Adarsh says this number will increase in course of time as the brand grows and more categories are launched.

Battle for the big money

Flipkart’s private label push is a key piece in its strategy to grow profitably. Flipkart’s arch rival Amazon has been globally successful in its private label efforts – Amazon Basics in fashion, Amazon Happy Belly in food, and Amazon Echo in electronics to name a few.

Private labels are meant to plug gaps that it has identified through data. Under the umbrella brand of Flipkart Smartbuy, it has launched 32 categories in home, electronics, and fashion.

Flipkart launched its private label in furniture (Perfect Homes)10 days before its flagship festive sales event Big Billion Days, which was held between September 21 and 24. It claims that Perfect Homes was the second largest furniture brand sold on Flipkart during this BBD.

If Flipkart manages to give a better customer experience – which was their low point till some time ago – they are set for a successful home run. Well-trained technicians, quick and free installation, and after-sales support can be the differentiators for customers to choose Flipkart over other options in this big ticket category.



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