Online booksellers in India, Flipkart leading the way

Flipkart is an ecommerce website which sells books in India. It was setup in Sept 2007 and it has over 400,000 titles with a whopping 5 million monthly uniques, and a new round of cash from Accel in the bank.

If you are an avid book reader there is a good chance that you have heard about or bought some book from Flipkart. I have used a few of the other websites and without any doubt Flipkart is the best in this league of booksellers.

Why is Flipkart the best?

The most important feature for the websites in this business is ‘Search’. It should be quick and accurate.This is one of the reasons why Flipkart is so successful in comparison with other book sellers. Except for Flipkart and TheStorez all the other websites fail in this vital area, as they either take long time to return search results or have some connection problems in due time. Once I search my book, the next thing is ‘how easy it is to read the description, previews and buy the book?’. Even here Flipkart scores above all the other websites with easily noticeable links like ‘Add to Cart’ and a single click to the check-out page. Also, Flipkart integrated Google Books preview which facilitates you to read a few pages from the book.

The Indian Consumers: Earn their trust

Understandably, the Indian Consumer is not very comfortable in buying online, not even a handkerchief. The Indian Consumer is very cautious about spending money online due to a mix of reasons like

1. Lack of Trust:

If a person is cheated in an online buying, he spreads a message saying ‘Don’t buy online’, which affects your business too even though the problem is with your competitor.

Most of the websites throw ‘Server Error’, ‘Application Error’ and all sorts of application problems without a proper message. This not only irritates the customer but he loses the trust on your website and might never come again. If you don’t serve your customers well, somebody else will.

2. Pricing:

With many competitors and the second-hand book stalls which always have the best-sellers outside, pricing is a very vital aspect in this business. Be honest with your pricing, don’t change the price too much in the process of check-out. It makes the customer feel that you are not honest and he immediately loses trust on the website.

3. Unkept Promises:

Most websites boast of money back guarantees and exchange facilities which are not properly implemented.

4. Payment Mechanism:

A small survey done by me among a group of 14 people taught me that people like to buy small when they buy online. Some of the first timers told me that they don’t mind buying online if the book is cheap, but the problem is some of the websites ask for a minimum bill of hundred rupees and don’t ship free. This is where we can target the first-timers and gain their trust and emotional value.

5. Wrong User Interface:

I observe that most of the websites display a category of books like photography, fiction etc… I don’t know the rationale behind this but this is going to be easy for your customers. Most people easily remember titles,  and authors and this why you should present them with titles, authors, and categories with an excellent ‘Search’.

6. What You Show Is Not What You Deliver:

Most of the websites sell duplicate products and the customer has no way to go back. Almost all of my friends have complained about this at some point or the other. However, in the books business there is very less to be deceived, unless you get a pirated copy or the wrong title.

Marketing Strategy:

Have Customer Care Centers:

Take the case of the Crossword store at the end of the street. The advantage these stores have is they serve as customer care centers, in case if the customer has some problems while using their free home delivery, or phone a book facilities. This is not something the esellers have which makes it more difficult to gain the trust of the customer. So, you should be really good at your delivery service and make the customer say ‘Vow!!’, and one such example is Zappos.

Use of Viral Marketing:

Reduce the cost of some low price best-sellers and use the social networks like Facebook to promote your offers. This is a golden oppurtunity for you to prove that you deliver the promises and gain the customers’ trust. Also, gifts and group accounts can lead to some traffic when implemented in the right season.

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3 thoughts on “Online booksellers in India, Flipkart leading the way

  1. What flipkart has done in the area of book selling is indeed remarkable. They have revolutionalised the industry. I came across another interesting website though. It’s called http://www.indiareads.com

    They too have a bookstore, but I think their main attraction is their book rental services. They have a good search and very comprehensive and exhaustive book information. And you are right about viral marketing. I have noticed how everybody seems to be facebooking these days. These Library guys, Indiareads – they also have facebook groups and pages.

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