The Flipkart experience zones will allow customers to walk into their nearest experience center and collect their shipments at their convenient time.
The move resolves the biggest impediment to the further expansion of online commerce or online retail — the inability of the customer to actually get a feel of the device before buying it.
This is a particularly big problem when buying items such as TVs, jewelry and audio systems, which have to be seen and experienced to be evaluated.
The online retailer plans to expand the number of experience zones to 100 by March 2016.
Unavailability of customers during delivery and restricted entry of delivery boys into IT parks, gated communities & educational institutions are some of the key reasons that lead to customer dissatisfaction with the delivery process, Flipkart said.
“The significance of these experience zones is to catapult customer convenience, while bringing in positive impact on scale and reach in supply chain expansion.”
It must be kept in mind that Flipkart sellers may not be able to actually ‘sell’ the items from its physical store, as the government has banned anyone with significant foreign ownership from selling stuff in India.
As a result, it may only act as a delivery and experience center.
Commenting on the initiative, Neeraj Aggarwal, Sr. Director – Delivery Operations, Flipkart, said “Getting logistics right is extremely crucial for e-commerce companies. Our efforts are focused on expanding our delivery network, without compromising on the customer service levels and expectation. We believe this model is a resolution to customer unavailability issues, as it offers consumers a choice to adjust the delivery time & location according to their convenience. It also provides a solution to restrictions for e-commerce entry into tech parks/ gated communities/ universities.”
Neeraj further added, “We also plan to offer several value added services at these experience zones to enhance customer engagement. Services like instant returns, spot trials, open box deliveries and exclusive product demos will also be rolled-out in the near future.”
Launched in conjuction with Flipkart’s dedicated logistics partner, Ekart, this model aims to carve out a competitive edge in the ecommerce logistics domain. The pilot project received an overwhelming response from customers with more than 80% of shipments picked up through the stores, over a period of 6 months.
These Experience Zones are currently present across: Bangalore | Mysore | Ahmedabad | Delhi | Kolkata | Pune | Vellore | Gurgaon | Vadodora | SuratExperience zones will also form a key element of Flipkart’s rural expansion strategy. Flipkart plans to expand their reach into Tier 4 towns and rural areas by making the entire town serviceable from a pick-up center, a reliable alternative to door delivery in small towns.
Flipkart is India’s leading ecommerce marketplace offering more than 30 million products cross 70+ categories including Books, Media, Consumer Electronics and Lifestyle.