Flipkart bets on large appliances to power next stage of growth

Flipkart started selling large appliances again in early 2014, nearly a year after it was forced to withdraw these products because of customer complaints about late deliveries and poor quality of products. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Flipkart started selling large appliances again in early 2014, nearly a year after it was forced to withdraw these products because of customer complaints about late deliveries and poor quality of products. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Bengaluru: India’s largest e-commerce firm Flipkart Ltd is banking on sales of high-priced products such as television sets, refrigerators and air conditioners to help the company maintain its sales growth trajectory this year.

Flipkart started selling large appliances again in early 2014, nearly a year after it was forced to withdraw these products because of customer complaints about late deliveries and poor quality of products. The company has set up a separate logistics network for the category.

Since early 2014, when it launched sales of TVs in Bengaluru, the company has added washing machines, air conditioners, microwave ovens and other products, and now sells these items to customers in some 6,000 pin codes across India.

In the Diwali quarter ended December, Flipkart sold nearly 500,000 units of large appliances, including 250,000 TV sets, said Amit Bansal, business head of appliances at Flipkart. This accounted for roughly a fourth of all TVs sold in India in that period, he said. The company expects to increase sales of large appliances by three times this year, compared with 2015.

“Over the next two years, (large appliances) is going to be one category that’s going to drive revenue growth for Flipkart. This category is built on customer service. The biggest lever we’re going to use is bringing down the cost of ownership, whether it’s offering high-end technology at disruptive prices or offering the kind of financial arrangements nobody has seen before,” Bansal said.

After the company’s bumper Big Billion Day sales week, some of the biggest consumer electronics brands, which were earlier hostile to all online retailers, entered talks to start selling on Flipkart, he said, but declined to name the brands.

In the past 18 months, many consumer electronics brands such as Sony, Videocon, Lenovo, Dell and Canon had warned shoppers against purchasing products on e-commerce marketplaces. However, as e-commerce became popular with consumers, brands are coming around to the reality that they can’t afford to be absent online.

“Diwali really shook up the market. It helped make brands realize that e-commerce is not just another channel, it could be the channel to growth. There is a shift happening in the mindset of brands. And we want to be the platinum partner of choice for global brands. Over the past few months, we’ve had discussions with a handful of global brands (that aren’t selling online) and things are moving in the right direction,” Bansal said.

For Flipkart, large appliances will be a key battlefront with arch-rivals Amazon India (Amazon Seller Services Pvt. Ltd) and Snapdeal (Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd). The average price in this category is more than 10 times that of other products.

“Consumer durables is a very interesting category for online and vice versa,” said Harminder Sahni, managing director at Wazir Advisors. “It’s standardized and branded so trust is not an issue and it’s crowded so consumers will want to compare products which e-commerce offers. This category will be important for Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal. Not only is it a high-ticket category, it is also not evolved online. While the three companies offer these products, no one has really cracked it. Customer experience is still not always great. So whoever is able to provide that will emerge as the winner.”

Sales of consumer durables in India are expected to touch nearly $21 billion by 2020, according to a July 2015 report by Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association and EY, a consultancy.

Large appliances is a nascent product category. The two biggest online product categories so far, smartphones and fashion, are already intensely competitive. E-commerce companies haven’t yet focused on sales of large appliances partly because it is particularly challenging to deliver these products quickly, consistently and in a viable manner. For instance, getting a 6-ft-high refrigerator or an air conditioner to a customer is far tougher than delivering a smartphone or a pair of jeans.

Bengaluru-based Flipkart, which is valued at $15 billion, is leading the growth of large appliances among e-commerce firms. Its dedicated logistics network for this category helps the company deliver a majority of orders for large appliances in roughly three days. It claims to deliver some 97% of orders within the time it promised customers.

Apart from setting up a separate supply chain network for this business, Flipkart is getting brands to launch TVs, washing machines and refrigerators exclusively for its customers. Some products from brands such as Vu, BPL, Sansui and Whirlpool are available only on Flipkart.

The company also bought a large stake in Jeeves Consumer Services Pvt. Ltd, which provides after sales service for large home appliances and electronics, in November 2014. Jeeves provides installation, maintenance, repairs, product guarantees and after sales services on TVs, washing machines and other products.

“The biggest piece in large appliances that defines customer experience is how well you deliver the product and how well and quickly you can instal the products. With Jeeves we’re able to give a spot-on delivery time and a spot-on installation time to customers. Earlier, the installation turnaround time was 72 hours after delivery for TVs. Now, one in five TVs sold on Flipkart is installed at the same time,” Bansal said.

[“source-Livemint”]

Make in India brand campaigners launch Motherland Joint Ventures

In a natural extension of its main brand, Motherland will also be involved in culture-related projects such as publishing, film, art and music. Photo: PTI

In a natural extension of its main brand, Motherland will also be involved in culture-related projects such as publishing, film, art and music. Photo: PTI

Mumbai: V. Sunil and Mohit Dhar Jayal, the men behind the fabulous campaigns for brands such as Make in India, Incredible India! Indigo and Royal Enfield have called it a day at Wieden + Kennedy, the American advertising agency they helped set up in India nine years ago. The duo, along with Rahul Bhatia, the promoter for InterGlobe Aviation Ltd (Indigo Airlines), have launched Motherland Joint Ventures Pvt. Ltd.

Motherland, an initiative which started out as a beautifully produced magazine covering Indian pop culture during the duo’s stint at W+K India, will now broaden its scope to operate in lifestyle-related product categories, including consumer products and urban regeneration projects, the first of which is already underway in Jodhpur.

Under this, the company is looking to restore some old havelis to make them into boutique hotels and retail spaces, as well as restore public spaces such as the step well. “The idea is to create spaces, and promote tourism, culture and shopping for people to enjoy. Unfortunately, like everything else in our country nothing is packaged well. So our endeavor will be to package, design and present to the world, what India has to offer,” said Sunil, director, Motherland.

In a natural extension of its main brand, Motherland will also be involved in culture-related projects such as publishing, film, art and music. The product line, which is also an integral part of this initiative, is currently in the development phase. “So, it could be anything from a toy plane to an actual plane, to even cities. Our job is to bring best in class practices from all over the world to participate and help execute projects,” said Sunil.

Between them, Motherland’s founders represent a good mix of business acumen and branding expertise: Sunil and Jayal, the former executive creative director and managing director, respectively, at W+K India, helped build India’s most successful global brands, we travel and hospitality industry such as InterGlobe Enterprises. The team will be joined by Bejul Somaia, managing director of Lightspeed India Partners, who will come on board as an advisor.

Motherland’s mission is to create globally competitive brands of Indian origin by collaborating with like-minded organisations and individuals in the pursuit of profit and social progress.

[“source-Livemint”]

Google Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P Launched in India: Price, Availability Details

Google Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P Launched in India: Price, Availability Details

Google has launched its latest Nexus smartphones – the LG Nexus 5X and Huawei Nexus 6P – in India. The company announced that both the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P smartphones will be available for pre-orders starting 2pm IST on Tuesday, and will go on sale from October 21. The Nexus 5X 16GB will be exclusively retailed online by Amazon India, while the Nexus 6P will be exclusive to Flipkart. Both smartphones can also be purchased via offline retailers such as The Mobile Store, Sangeetha Mobiles, and Croma, among others.

(Also see: Nexus 5X vs. Nexus 6P)

As confirmed previously, the Nexus 5X is priced at Rs. 31,900 for the 16GB internal storage variant, while the 32GB variant will come at Rs. 35,900. The Nexus 6P is priced at Rs. 39,999 for the 32GB internal storage variant, and Rs. 42,999 for the 64GB variant. Those who pre-order the Nexus 5X will get a Bluetooth headset worth Rs. 2,500 free, screen replacement worth Rs. 6,500 free, and Rs. 3,500 cashback for HDFC Bank credit card users.

(Also see: Nexus 5X full specifications)

Those who pre-order the Nexus 6P will get a Chromecast dongle worth Rs. 2,999 via Flipkart, or a Bluetooth speaker worth Rs. 2,495 via offline retailers, free. The company is touting EMI offers on all major credit cards, plus 100 percent cashback of interest charges, apart from an Airtel 4G ‘double data for six months’ offer.

(Also see: Nexus 6P full specifications)

Google, which launched the phones on September 29 in San Francisco, said that the new devices would come with Type-C USB, Nexus Imprint fingerprint sensor, and run the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS.

(Also see: Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P Signal a Return to Form for Google)

The Nexus 6P is the first full-metal Nexus smartphone, built out of aluminium, and features a 5.7-inch QHD (1440×2560 pixel) display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4; a 12.3-megapixel rear camera with 4K and slow-motion (240fps) video recording, apart from an f/2.0 aperture; 8-megapixel front-facing camera with HDR+ and a f/2.4 aperture; a 2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 v2.1 SoC; 3GB of LPDD4 RAM, a 3450mAh battery with Quick Charge support providing up to 7 hours of charge in 10 minutes, and dual front-ported speakers. It will be available in Aluminium, and Graphite colour variants.

The Nexus 5X on the other hand features a 5.2-inch full-HD (1080×1920 pixel) display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3; a 1.8GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 SoC; 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM; a 12.3-megapixel rear camera with 4K and slow-motion (120fps) video recording, apart from an f/2.0 aperture, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera with HDR+ and a f/2.0 aperture. It features a 2700mAh battery, with Quick Charge support providing up to 3.8 hours of charge in 10 minutes. It will be available in Carbon Black, Quartz White, and Ice Blue.

Speaking at the launch David Shapiro, Global Director of Chrome and Android Marketing at Google said, “India is now the fastest growing smartphone market in the world, and it’s exciting to launch our newest Nexus phones here. We’re looking forward to the Nexus 5X and 6P delivering premium experiences for Indian users, demonstrating what is possible when innovative hardware, thoughtful design, and the latest Android software all come together.”

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Huawei Google Nexus 6P

Huawei Google Nexus 6P

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Read detailed Huawei Google Nexus 6P review
LG Google Nexus 5X

LG Google Nexus 5X

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  • Design

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  • Good
  • Pure Android 6.0
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Good camera
  • Good overall performance
  • Bad
  • Limited storage
  • Expensive
  • USB Type-C adapters required
  • Ditches wireless charging
Read detailed LG Google Nexus 5X review
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[“Source-Gadgets”]

Ola, Uber launch bike taxi services in Bengaluru

Photo: Hemant Mishra/MintPhoto: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Bengaluru: Ride hailing services Ola and Uber on Thursday announced the launch of their respective bike taxi services in Bengaluru, a move that will mark their presence in almost every possible land commute option.

Uber Inc., the world’s most valuable start-up and Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd), now offer between themselves an array of services; point-to-point drop, ride sharing, carpooling, autorickshaws and now bike taxis, which is likely to establish their grip over short-distance trips at a lower price point.

UberMOTO, the bike taxi service, will have a base fare of Rs.15, the company said in a statement. Uber will charge Rs.3 per km apart from Rs.1 for every minute of the ride time. Ola will charge Rs.2 for every km apart from Rs.1 per minute ride time charge, on a base fare of Rs.30.

According to industry experts, bike taxis may help both Ola and Uber add significantly to their consumer base, by virtue of the cheaper price points. But, a new service at a cheaper rate will lead to additional cash burn for these companies, as they will have to spend more on incentives for the riders and consumers. According to multiple industry executives, both Ola and Uber are losing money on every booking, which implies that if demand for bike taxis surges, so do their expenses.

“They will continue to work on their margins and financials but they can’t choose to not do this. For a very short distance, bike taxis are very efficient,” said Abhishek Goyal, founder of Tracxn, a start-up tracker.

Ola and Uber’s entry into the segment might put a host of fledgling start-ups under pressure. Ola and Uber have a significantly big existing user base to cultivate, hence they may not need to spend heavily to market the new service, unlike others, which might struggle to find a space in the consumer’s smartphone.

According to data provided by Tracxn, a start-up tracker, there are at least 20 bike taxi start-ups in India. Only Noida-based Now, Gurgaon-based Bikxie and local rivals Baxi and M-Taxi have raised institutional funding. Bengaluru, where Ola and Uber have launched the bike taxi services, is home to at least seven such start-ups: Mu Ride, Pilot, Streetryderr, Rapido, HeadLYT, Hey Bob and Pillionaire.

Industry experts say bike taxi service providers, including Ola and Uber, may face multiple challenges, right from creating demand to maintaining a steady supply of riders. For instance, companies may struggle to ensure a steady supply, because a multitude of riders are currently engaged as delivery personnel with e-commerce companies and hyperlocal delivery start-ups among others.

Ola and Uber may have a better chance to woo a certain section of the riders with hefty incentives to begin with, but matching that spending may be a challenge for smaller start-ups.

According to executives of several bike taxi start-ups, riders essentially come from delivery start-ups or even BPO employees looking for a quick buck on a part-time basis.

Incidentally, both Ola and Uber had earlier added autorickshaws to expand their bouquet of offerings. While Uber discontinued uberAUTO in December last year, Ola continues to expand the category. However, Ola’s interest in autorickshaw’s had taken a toll on niche autorickshaw aggregators across the country, who were struggling to retain drivers in the wake of lucrative incentives offered by Ola, Mint reported on 23 July 2015.

However, bike taxi start-ups are not deterred as they contend that bike taxi is a new category for which a market has to be created.

“The last mile or the shorter distance commute is going to be very different from point-to-point commute,” said Rana Vishal Singh, co-founder of HeadLYT.

In India, bike taxis may face regulatory hurdles as none of the states, barring Haryana and Goa, acknowledge them as a commercial passenger transport service provider.

Both Ola and Uber have claimed that they do not need any specific permit to run bike taxis. Ramegowda, commissioner for road transport Karnataka, however, said that any form of vehicle usage for commercial purposes requires a permit from the relevant authority.

In Delhi and Gurgaon, bike taxis suffer from the lack of parking places. Mohit Sharma, co-founder of Bikxie said policemen in Gurgaon do not allow bike taxi riders to park, especially around the metro stations, a key pickup point.

“Initially, we also had the issue of cops chasing us on the road. But, we have now taken a parking slot near IFFCO Chowk. Most of our fleet is operating out of here,” Sharma said. “Riders come back to this parking lot, which is used as a hub, while waiting for new rides.”

Globally, bike taxis have found significant traction in Southeast Asia. Companies such as Singapore-headquartered GrabTaxi and Indonesia’s Go-Jek are a few big companies in this segment.

 [“source-Livemint”]