With a war chest of $360 mn and a growing customer base, home grown ecommerce company #flipkart is now looking to stay one step ahead of competition. Although the company says that its strategy is dictated by customers and not competition, rivals like Amazon are trying to lure customers away. Notwithstanding the pressure to turn profitable, the battle for customers, is one which Flipkart can’t afford to lose. In this interview, Sachin Bansal, the co-founder & CEO of Flipkart talks about it’s plans to open up different parts of the e-commerce platform for third parties and its increasing focus on mobile as India becomes increasingly mobile. Edited Excerpts.
What are some of the milestones for Flipkart last year?
Everyone was skeptical if we’d be able to sell fashion merchandise on our website. But we’re making good progress. When we started last year, it was very small for us but now we are very close to the industry leader.
The company is now very well capitalized and we are able to take a very long term view. So we don’t have to make tradeoffs that we’d have otherwise made. For instance, now if we need to invest a large amount in technology for the next 3 years, we will do that. Earlier, we would have thought lets invest for one year and see how it goes.
We also opened our platform for sellers. Right now there are about 1000 sellers. We want to have lakhs of them.
NextBigWhat for Flipkart in 2014?
We will focus on #payzippy, our payments platform, e-books and our mobile experience. Category expansion is also on our minds. In 2-3 years, we will become largely an m-commerce company. We will also have a larger range of products. (Read: Flipkart’s Mobile Strategy)
On the technology front, we will open up different parts of our platform for sellers. PayZippy was an example of it. For instance, we could think of inventory management or accounting for sellers. Our supply chain solutions will also become available for 3rd party sellers.
We will also look at using the data we generate to create a competitive advantage. Automation of certain functions is also on our minds. (Read: Engineering the Flipkart Story)
Will you acquire companies to grow? Or will you build on your own.
Given enough time we can build it ourselves. But time is critical. It all depends on the team, the product and cultural fit.
What are some of the regulatory challenges you face?
We’d love to see a uniform tax code across states. There should be one way to look at taxes.
You were looking at $1 bn in Gross Merchandise Value by 2015, how far have you come?
We are more than half way through. Hopefully, we will reach that target much sooner.
Sachin Bansal at UnPluggd