Online marketplace Flipkart reportedly plans to open offline stores in small Indian cities.
The online-to-offline move on Flipkart’s part comes as an initiative to promote assisted ecommerce, thereby attracting more customers, according to a sources close to the development. With this plan, “Flipkart is seeking to double its current user base at a time when the broader Indian ecommerce market faces stagnation,” the source added.
Commenting on the development, Ravi Garikipati, Chief Engineer, Flipkart told LiveMint, “Basically we want to have some sort of a connect with the offline world as well—this is one of our upcoming initiatives, but it’s not something that’s out there yet. As we are looking ahead and trying to grow the market and win over the next 3-5 years, there are a few things we need to do.”
The proposed offline stores will be set up in the remote parts of the country and will enable Indian users to access Flipkart products, even with a limited access to the internet.
“A lot of folks are still comfortable going to the offline world and doing their (shopping). We’ve also seen in some pockets that while people spend some time on their commerce apps, they still feel comfortable going offline and getting the touch-and-feel experience and talking to local vendors. So, we are working on this whole concept called assisted commerce, it’s just a concept at this point,” he added.
As per an official statement, Amazon India has also entered into a partnership with StoreKing, which has a presence in more than 10,000 rural outlets across south India. StoreKing offers more than 1,000 products via its tablets installed at retail outlets and kirana (grocery) stores in rural areas. It also provides product information and shopping services in regional languages.