Flipkart plans to sell white goods, furniture [India Business] [Times of India]
(Times of India Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) MUMBAI: India's largest e-commerce player, Flipkart, will start selling big-ticket items like furniture, large-sized white goods and electronics products along with introducing a private label for apparel, co-founder Sachin Bansal told TOI during an exclusive chat. The Bangalore-based company, hailed as the poster boy of Indian e-commerce due to its meteoric rise since it began operations in 2007 and billion-dollar valuation, may acquire an existing player to grow its offerings. Flipkart started off as an online bookstore but has diversified into many categories including apparel and baby products, besides many others, mirroring the growth trajectory of the world's largest internet retailer - Amazon. The online market for home furnishing and furniture is competitive in India with the likes of Urban Ladder, Rocket Internet-backed FabFurnish, Pepperfry and Zansaar already in the fray. Bansal told TOI the online retailer wants to create depth in existing categories while introducing newer ones as it targets a billion-dollar turnover by 2015. "Teams are working on the launch and are looking at both the options of growing organically or inorganically. Currently, there are many big-ticket categories including furniture and white goods like refrigerators and washing machines that we do not sell. This year, we are hopefully going to close in on these gaps," said Bansal, who co-founded Flipkart along with Binny Bansal, both IIT-Delhi alumni. The furniture market in India is estimated at $8-10 billion and will see the entry of the Swedish homeware giant IKEA soon. "When Flipkart gets into a category, it means there is a big potential in it. They will move the needle and will help create awareness for furniture-buying online. For us, specifically, since we source most of our products internationally, their entry won't impact us much," said Jawad Ayaz, co-founder of the Bangalore-based Zansaar, which is funded by Accel Partners and Tiger Global. Having introduced apparel a year back, Flipkart is already giving a run for money to Myntra, the biggest fashion e-commerce player in the country. "The difference between the range of products available online and offline is still pretty incremental in India compared to what it is like in China and the US. Therefore, we need to do much more work. Internet is a category in which you make money when you have the scale and a critical mass," Bansal said when asked about when the online retailer would turn around and clock profits. "At present, it's about our ability to scale up as quickly as we can - that is the bigger constraint than the market. We want to be the leader in each of the e-commerce categories," he said. While revenue for Flipkart has grown five times from Rs 281 crore to Rs 1,180 crore for the financial year ended March 2013, losses stood at Rs 281.7 crore compared to Rs.109.9 crore in the previous financial year, according to documents filed by the online retailer with the Registrar of Companies. The e-tailer is also sharpening its mobile strategy. Bansal said almost 20% of Flipkart's sales now come from mobile shopping, which was negligible till last year. In October last year, Flipkart announced it had got on board a new set of investors, including Morgan Stanley, helping it to clinch the largest-ever funding for any internet business in India when it closed a $360-million fund-raise. The deal valued the consumer internet firm at $1.6 billion.
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