Amazon’s decision to go global has been—for the most part—inevitable. After firmly establishing its position as the largest online retailer in the US, the company set its sight east of the Atlantic. In a span of roughly two decades, Amazon captured most of the European eCommerce industry market share while creating thousands of jobs and generating billions in revenue.The next logical frontier became India—home to 1.3 billion people (read: shoppers). However, the presence of local retail powerhouse Flipkart made replicating the same success as back in the US and EU a serious challenge.Today, both giants are neck and neck with around 31% market share each. If you’re deciding to enter into the realm of online selling in India, choosing the right platform can be a tough decision.
In this post, you will learn how both platforms compare in terms of seller-friendliness and providing opportunities for growth going forward.
Although the rivalry between Walmart-owned Flipkart and Amazon is usually viewed via the lens of local vs. international, the challenges both face are quite similar. Primarily, the targeting of local and small-time shops and markets known as ‘kiranas’. Retail giants understand that the future of their business relies on empowering local sellers while also digitizing the merchant payment system.
In other words, both Amazon and Flipkart recognize that making the selling process easier is the key to winning over new sellers and outdoing the competition. For sellers, the Flipkart vs. Amazon debate boils down to two things:
Is Amazon expected to take the lead or Flipkart?
The pandemic boosted sales and accelerated growth for online marketplaces across the globe. The Indian eCommerce market nearly doubled between 2017 to late 2020 with Amazon and Flipkart enjoying most of the spoils. But what does the future hold? Is one retail platform expected to supersede the other?
Going by the statistics, it appears Amazon.in is on a track to dominate the nationwide eCommerce scene as it has done in so many countries prior. Out of the sale of $3 billion worth of Indian-made goods Amazon facilitated since its inception, $1 billion were in 2020 alone.
Not only that, but according to one recent survey commissioned by the Bank of America, 71% of respondents preferred using Amazon over Flipkart’s meager 22%. The way forward seems clear: Amazon is the platform of choice for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to scale into the big businesses of tomorrow.
Another important consideration in the Amazon vs Flipkart debate is the selling experience offered by both platforms.
The harder the account registration process, the more likely it is for sellers to get deterred and demotivated. In terms of documentation, both Amazon and Flipkart have similar requirements—GSTIN (Goods and Services Tax Identification Number), bank account details, PAN (Permanent Account Number) Card, etc.
Flipkart, however, has a more stringent account verification process. It includes uploading a cancelled cheque along with verifying a payment sent by Flipkart directly to your bank account. Once Flipkart deems your documents as genuine, you must then await a confirmation email before your seller account goes live.
The Seller Central account registration process for Amazon India is considerably smoother. Amazon has a relatively lax document verification process which makes it possible to create an account and begin selling the very same day.
Note: For both Flipkart and Amazon, sellers must have at least one unique product on offer before they can reach out to buyers.
Similar to the account registration process, creating product listings on Flipkart is more time-consuming as compared to Amazon. After filling in the required details, a QC or Quality Control procedure is used to determine whether product listings match set standards.
Until you receive a response from Flipkart, your listing will remain inactive and be classified as a draft (similar to how listings are temporarily suppressed on Amazon).
On Amazon, there is no need to have products inspected by a QC team. Instead, your listing will go live the moment you have inventory available to sell.
Of course, Amazon has its own Product listing guidelines sellers are expected to adhere to. Unlike Flipkart though, the process of vetting product detail pages is fully automated.
Flipkart and Amazon both have their fulfillment centers scattered across major cities in India. The main differentiating factor between the two is that on Amazon, new sellers can store their inventory in FBA fulfillment centers from day one.
On the flip side (no pun intended), new sellers must first build up a sales history with one or more products. Even then, enrolling in the Flipkart inventory storage program is possible only via direct invitation. With Amazon, there’s none of that.
The customer shipping process is arguably one of the weightiest considerations in the Amazon versus Flipkart conversation. How does each side fare?
Flipkart has its own logistics support system called eKart whereas Amazon relies on Easy-ship as its courier service of choice. Unfortunately, Flipkart does not allow its sellers the option of self-fulfillment. In places where eKart does not operate, the barriers to online selling appear insurmountable.
Amazon sellers have the option of engaging in self-fulfillment or FBM if Easyship is unavailable in their region. If all else fails, you can also use India Post to ship products to your customers.
Sponsored advertising is the primary method of marketing products to customers. It’s an important tool that helps bring in much-needed sales and visibility especially during the first few days of selling. You can run sponsored Ads on both platforms. The only difference here is that on Flipkart, you must deposit money into your ‘Flipkart wallet’ first in order to run ads.
Amazon follows a credit-based system and does not require sellers to add an amount to their account. Instead, the cost of running ads is deducted from your earnings. That being said, you must possess the buy box to be able to run sponsored ads. In this regard, Flipkart sellers have a slight edge over their Amazon counterparts.
Brand approval refers to the ease with which you can start selling under a unique brand name/logo. Flipkart has numerous product categories that are open to all sellers but some categories require a brand approval letter and a few others that require a registered trademark.
Sellers that operate on both platforms consider Flipkart to have stricter brand approval criteria as compared to Amazon. A clear upside of such policies is the reduced number of counterfeit items and IP infringement cases. The downside is that it requires more effort on behalf of new sellers to set up their online business.
Amazon also has several category and sub-category approval processes in place. However, unlike Flipkart, the option of UPC (Universal Product Code) and GTIN (Global Trade Item Number)-based approvals also exist. This greatly reduces the time it takes to start selling to customers.
Let’s address a few commonly asked questions related to Flipkart and Amazon India
Amazon and Flipkart are two different online retailers. Flipkart was founded in 2007 and was acquired by US-based Walmart in 2018 whereas Amazon officially started operations in India back in 2013. Today, both Flipkart and Amazon.in are the two largest online marketplaces in India.
Flipkart does not have any plans of buying Amazon. Both are direct competitors in the Indian eCommerce sphere and are looking to establish themselves as the number one online marketplace in the country.
Both are pretty close in terms of market share. However, if you take into account Flipkart-owned fashion websites like Jabong and Myntra, then it controls around 38% of the market share as opposed to Amazon’s 31.2%.
It’s safe to conclude that you will have an easier time selling on Amazon India as opposed to Flipkart. This is not to say that selling on Flipkart is a bad choice—it has:
Once you establish a foothold on Amazon India, the chance to open up shop on Flipkart will always be there. Now, the only thing left is to find profitable products and target the right audience.
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