Ever heard of Online shopping? Well, of course, you have. That’s exactly what everybody does these days. It makes buying things so much easier, not to mention the massive discounts!
From clothing apparel to electronics and home appliances, from books to groceries and whatnot. Everything is now just one click away from you and it is delivered right to your doorstep.
Talking about online shopping, does Flipkart ring a bell?
I’m sure it does. Flipkart is one of the biggest e-commerce websites in India that offers an ocean of products from smartphones, cosmetics, books, electronics, groceries, and whatnot. It makes buying and selling, easier, quicker, and more efficient. It offers multiple discounts on different occasions to glue the customers to the platform.
But, do you know how Flipkart earns money? How does it earn millions of dollars by just connecting sellers to buyers? Don’t you wanna know how it does that? I think you do. So, Let’s dive into the revenue model of Flipkart.
But before doing so, let’s take a look at some facts.
FACTS ABOUT FLIPKART
- Flipkart was founded in October 2007 by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, alumni of the IIT, Delhi, and former Amazon employees.
- As of March 2017, Flipkart held a 39.5% market share of India’s e-commerce industry.
- Flipkart offers more than 44 million products on its platform across 80 different cories.
- Flipkart initially started out by selling out books, but as the platform grew in popularity it expanded its product categories into fashion, home essentials, electronics, groceries, and lifestyle products.
- Flipkart owns the fashion e-commerce giant Myntra and the UPI payments platform PhonePe.
This initial review of these statistics will help you comprehend the true size of Flipkart and its command over the market. With operations spread across every thread of the spectrum, the numbers in its revenue aren’t particularly small. The annual sales of Flipkart are more than the net valuation of most of the unicorn startups in the country. So unless you have to bake a cake, let’s take a look at how Flipkart crunches those numbers on its balance sheet.
REVENUE MODEL OF FLIPKART
The revenue model of Flipkart is mostly focused on advertisement based and intermediaries commission. However, there are other few revenue model of Flipkart which plays an important role for the giant e-commerce. Some of the most important revenue models of Flipkart are as follows.
You might have come across a lot of ads while surfing through the Flipkart app and website. These ads are paid advertisements provided by different companies or sellers to be displayed on the home page of Flipkart, before or after the payment gateway, or somewhere at the corner while searching for different products. These are mostly promotional ads for the products sold by these brands. These advertisers thus, pay Flipkart to display these ads for a certain period. This method of affiliation is a good way to monetize ad space on their website and comprises a huge percentage of the revenue model of Flipkart.
App and Website Revenue
The Flipkart app has more than 50 million downloads and the website also has millions of visitors every month. Hence, Flipkart monetizes the high amount of engagement on their app and website through Adsense revenue and earns a lot of money from the attention they garner through their platforms.
The intermediary commission is the central pillar of the revenue model of Flipkart. Flipkart initially started as an intermediary between sellers and customers. It allows different sellers to sell their products through Flipkart. On the other hand, it allows the customers to find all their necessities in one place.
The commission charged by Flipkart varies depending upon the type of product and its sales. Ideally, it charges a 5-20% commission excluding taxes and/or discount.
Flipkart has several subsidiaries from where it earns money. This is a great addition to the revenue model of Flipkart. In layman’s terms, Flipkart has acquired the business in a variety of different sectors. It’s a great way to diversify the business portfolio and reduce the risks linked with the business. Because as they say “You don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
Some of the famous subsidiaries of Flipkart are Myntra and Jabong (both of which are online clothing marketplaces), and PhonePe(which is a UPI Payments App ). The others include Upstream Commerce, DSYN Technologies, AdIQuity Technologies, Ugenie, Jeeves Consumer Services Pvt Ltd, Mallers, Inc.
Flipkart charges a certain amount of delivery fee from the customers differing according to their locations. It sometimes might even charge higher for immediate delivery services. This is also included in the revenue model of Flipkart.
Apart from electronics, books, etc. Flipkart has recently launched a new category into its services for groceries. This service allows delivery of day-to-day groceries from vendors, retail stores, supermarkets, etc. who wish to partner with Flipkart. Again, Flipkart here earns through its commissions from these sellers. Flipkart is expanding in the grocery service with a little grip but may wind up as revenue model of Flipkart.
Flipkart does act as an intermediary but it also provides pick-up and delivery services for both the sellers and customers. It does not only charge the customers a convenience fee but also, charges the sellers for the timely and safe delivery of the products.
In the fiscal year 2021, Flipkart Private Limited reported revenue of approximately 433 billion Indian rupees. Furthermore, the e-commerce player’s revenue increased by 25% compared to the previous year.
Here’s a graph that depicts the soaring revenues of Flipkart from 2014 to 2021
Flipkart vs Amazon- The Battle for Dominance
Since its inception, Flipkart had held the crown of the biggest e-commerce brand in the country. Flipkart was making huge amounts of money and beating revenue expectations every quarter. A flurry of investments flew into the company and made its presence known across the world adding to its existing dominance. But things began to change after Amazon decided to dip its toes in Indian waters after losing to the Alibaba group in China.
In July 2014, Jeff Bezos, founder and the then CEO of Amazon announced $2 billion for Amazon’s entry into the Indian Retail space.
This came as a shock to the world and Flipkart alike because Amazon was never known for cowering out of the competition and demolishing them with capital alone. But it seems the loss in China against Alibaba rubbed Jeff Bezos in the wrong way and he didn’t want to lose anymore.
However, Flipkart wasn’t a pin in the haystack, it was the haystack itself. It wasn’t going to be an easy battle, Flipkart was huge in India (It still is…) and it wouldn’t give away its throne without a fight.
Amazon started its aggressive marketing campaign to attract customers to its platform and also began offering exclusive discounts and offers on its platform. And it worked pretty well for them. Because on the first day after going live in India, Amazon received more than 10,000 orders and that number has been growing ever since.
Anyways, its rigorous cash burn and aggressive marketing strategies of Amazon were highly effective and in less than 3 years of setting foot in the Indian markets, Amazon was going toe to toe against the biggest e-commerce company in the country(Flipkart).
But Flipkart was still ahead in terms of sales and revenue, but they were stressed about the monumental success of Amazon in India and the pace at which it was grabbing market share from other e-commerce platforms like Snapdeal which was one of the three biggest e-commerce platforms in the country.
Flipkart also started burning cash like Amazon and boosted its marketing campaign with exclusive offers and discounts just like Amazon did and the battle was on! But Amazon had done its research, it was one step ahead of Flipkart.
They knew that consumers in India loved the variety, they wanted bang for the buck, and they wanted variety. And Amazon was offering them that on a silver plate. In Aug 2016, Flipkart had 40 million products in its inventory; while Amazon had more than 65 million. Flipkart was anxious, they wanted to turn the tide of this battle.
But Binny Bansal, the founder and then CEO of Flipkart made a grave mistake in the heat of battle. He observed that Amazon was more focussed on its website and less on its mobile app. But he had an opposing view, he believed that mobile apps were the future of e-commerce and more than 90% of the consumers would shift to the mobile app.
Therefore, in 2015 Binny Bansal announced that Flipkart was going all in with the app and Flipkart would completely transition on the app and Flipkart was also trying to shift abruptly to a marketplace model, where tens of thousands of third-party sellers would sell to customers from its then largely inventory model.
These two changes turned out to be catastrophic for Flipkart. Although Flipkart did not agree with his view and refused to pull back from the website, with Binny Bansal on the helm, his view was reflected in the operations of the company and this mistake cost them the battle.
Amazon kept on strengthening its website and acquiring more and more customers while steadily catching up to Flipkart’s sales numbers and for the first time, Amazon came on top of the sales battle in August 2016, Flipkart did a little under Rs 2000 crore in sales that month, while Amazon did a little over Rs 2000 crore.
Although revenues accumulated across all subsidiaries of Flipkart helped Flipkart make more money than Amazon, it has lost the battle in the e-commerce sector, and Flipkart did not have the money or the resources left to prolong this battle. And Amazon did not back down from its throats, it wanted to make the prospect of war seem meaningless for Flipkart and Jeff Bezos did just that.
He announces another $3 billion investment in Amazon India’s operations taking the total investment above $5 billion to cement their position in the Indian e-commerce sector. The crown was taken from Flipkart and Amazon came on top.
But just once everybody thought this battle was over, another MNC with deep pockets came to the rescue of Flipkart. Global retail giant Walmart announced in 2018 that they were buying a 77% controlling stake in Flipkart for $16 billion. And this gave Flipkart exactly what they needed to be back in the battle, an infinite marketing budget, a pool of resources, and the support of the Walton family to go up against the richest man in the world at the time.
The battle continued from that point on and continues for the time being, with Flipkart having the upper edge at the moment. Flipkart decided to do some major changes in the company. Some important ones are listed below-
- In February 2022, Flipkart launched the “sell back program” to enable trade in smartphones.
- In January 2022, Flipkart announced an expansion in its grocery services and will offer services to 1,800 Indian cities.
- Flipkart, India’s e-commerce powerhouse, announced in July 2021 that it has raised US$ 3.6 billion in new funding from various sources including sovereign funds, private equities, and Walmart (parent company).
- In June 2021, Flipkart added a new fulfillment center (FC) in Dankuni, West Bengal. The FC is spread over 2.2 lakh sq. ft. and has the potential to create ~3,500 direct jobs.
- In May 2021, Flipkart strengthened its grocery infrastructure to cater to customer safety and demand across India. In this quarter, it is planning to further expand its fulfillment center capacity for grocery by over 8 lakh square feet across Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Coimbatore, and Hyderabad.
- In May 2021, Flipkart announced that it is in talks with sovereign funds, private equity majors, and other investors to raise US$ 2 billion at a valuation of US$ 30 billion.
- April 2021, Flipkart announced a commercial alliance with Adani Group to improve the company’s logistics and data center capabilities and create about 2,500 direct jobs.
- In April 2021, Flipkart announced the acquisition of Cleartrip, an online travel technology firm. Flipkart announced to purchase of 100% shareholding of Cleartrip as the company expands its investments to broaden its digital commerce offerings for customers.
These changes helped Flipkart get back in the game and give Amazon a run for their money. As of now, Flipkart is faring pretty well in this power struggle, and in July 2020, Walmart led a $1.2 billion financing round in the Indian e-commerce firm to increase its majority stake of 77% to more than 82%. Which will strengthen its position even more.
The most powerful company in India, the revenue model of Flipkart is extremely effective in the Indian market. Flipkart completely revolutionized Indian consumers and built a 62 billion dollar e-commerce economy by changing buying habits and disrupting the offline markets. People now prefer to buy things online because they have a lot of variety, exclusive discounts, and amazing offers all in one place, and the best part about it is that products get delivered to your doorsteps. Flipkart has seen its highs and lows in the last 15 years but has been victorious in the end!