E-commerce portal Flipkart has expanded its product portfolio, adding two new categories: Personal & Health, and Home Appliances. With this, Flipkart has graduated from being a vanilla, online book seller to a big e-commerce portal, on the lines of international stores like Amazon and BestBuy.
While the Personal & Health Care category features products like hair straighteners, dryers, shavers, trimmers, epilators, digital thermometers, BP monitors, nebulizers, and massagers from brands such as Panasonic, Dr. Morepen, Philips, and Braun, among others; the Home Appliances section features mixers, grinders, electric kettles, irons, and coffee makers from brands like Inalsa, Morphy Richards and Bajaj.
The company had earlier raised $20 million from existing investor Tiger Global, for ramping up supply chain capacity, technology up-gradation and to expand its marketing initiatives. Last year, it had raised $10 million from Tiger Global, and had expanded its product portfolio to offer movies, music, games, mobile handsets and electronics
Expect A Battle
Earlier in the day, we reported that Homeshop18 has acquired online books retailer, CoinJoos, to consolidate its presence in the online book store segment. Flipkart on the other hand is making inroads into the home appliances segment, thus entering HomeShop18’s territory. Expect an e-commerce between these two major players. So far, HomeShop18 and its competitor Star CJ, have an edge over others, since they can do detailed product demos on their dedicated Home Shopping channels.
Not The Same As Selling Books
Retailing home appliances is not the same as retailing books, since customers prefer detailed demonstrations, and opt for physical stores; customers often research products online, but buy them offline.
However, offering competitive prices might make them switch. When e-commerce ventures started selling electronics, especially mobile phones, a lot of nay sayers dismissed the whole idea, since everybody thought that these products require a ‘touch and feel’ experience.
However, Flipkart and its peers managed to gain traction in that space by offering lower prices and pre-book deals, although we do not know how the particular product segment is doing, in terms of total sales and profits.
If Flipkart manages to offer lower prices than physical stores, perhaps we could see more people researching online, experiencing offline and ordering online.
Additionally, Flipkart could also consider creating demo videos online, for some of these products, and perhaps even entering TV by buying airtime.