Maligned Rip-offs of Successful Businesses and Why We Need Them!

Mr. Copy-writer
Mr. Copy-writer

I like using Flipkart. They have a decent collection of books and they offer quality service. Their checkout system is efficient and customer service is pretty good. So good, that I’ve had to only ever use it once so far. Yet at times, I see people complain about how Flipkart is a rip-off of Amazon. I totally agree with the rip-off part. What I don’t get is the complaining.

I’m nowhere near as good as I need to be in order to analyse businesses. However, I think I have sufficient reason to opine that rip-offs are completely alright. Agreed, there may be barely any innovation, differences in products, services and operation, yet I still believe that if you pull of a good marketing strategy, or choose the right set of customers to sell your product to, or even name your product appropriately, you’re doing good. Innovation is brilliant. Competition is brilliant because it drives innovation. Rip-offs are good because it means competition.

I’ll take Flipkart as an example. Because I’m familiar with it and so are others.

Flipkart, supposedly, copycatted everything from Amazon. From the UI through to what it does/offers blah blah. Umm.. people (haters), how else do you run e-commerce? Amazon tried and tested their UI for a millenia to finally perfect it. It made a lot of sense. Perhaps they got it from analytics, or maybe from behavioral consultants or maybe just plain experience. Flipkart didn’t want to spend the time or money to discover that the Amazon UI works. They just replicated it, and decided to improve on from there. It’s simple. Someone sets the precedent, others follow. Do you follow? And then their working model. I mean seriously, how can you be radically different from another e-commerce company. Note, I’m not talking about internal functioning. I’m not privy to such information and not many are. And it has no relation to the discussion at hand.

Flipkart did innovate however, in their own little way. They adopted Amazon to the Indian business and consumer ecosystem. They didn’t like being charged like a Bangalore rickshaw by the courier companies and decided to build their own delivery model. That in turn will be copied by other Indian e-commerce companies. Which is a good thing.

Rip-offs exist for many reasons. Maybe there is a huge f**king market that hasn’t been tapped (was Amazon in India??), maybe whoever was in the market wasn’t doing a good enough job, maybe they were doing a good enough job but someone felt they could do more than that, or maybe the rival product/service was overpriced. Rip-offs exist. I can’t see any way they destroy the marketplace. In fact, they make it more competitive and consumer-friendly.

What’s your take?

[PS: The catalyst for this article was reading this. I had heard of the transaction between Zendesk CEO and Freshdesk].

[Guest article contributed by Justin Alva/Reproduced from his blog. Image credit:wikipedia]

Forum Discussion: What should you do in case you see a me-too-copy-cat company within weeks

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