E-commerce major Flipkart is contemplating to go for partnership with local stores offering its customers a "touch and feel" experience, at least for some products, as online commerce continues to be minuscule in the overall Indian retail industry. The move comes close on the heels of Reliance planning grocery foray taking local kirana stores onboard. Walmart-owned Flipkart has already established a delivery model using local kirana stores and onboarded some 27,000 stores across 700 cities.
Now, Flipkart proposes to have authorised "buy zones" where a customer can walk in and check a product but he or she has to order it online, a company official said on Thursday.
"Our pilot project was successful in Hyderabad with mobiles where we partnered with local kirana stores for a touch and feel experience. But the order has to be taken online from a kiosk installed there," Flipkart chief corporate affairs officer Rajneesh Kumar said.
Now, the e-commerce major plans to expand this localised partnerships in other parts of the country, he said. Flipkart and Amazon now faces the heat of the Competition Commission of India's probe against them for alleged malpractices including deep discounting and tie-up with preferred sellers.
"Online market accounts for only 3 percent of the total retail market in the country," Kumar said.
In fashion, tie-ups with local tailors had offered huge benefit to e-commerce company in a sharp reduction in the number of returns.
In the mobile category, pure online brands had moved to offline brick and mortar stores to expand its base and protect their margins.
On Thursday, Flipkart organised a workshop for MSMEs in Kolkata, a part of a series of programmes to help the enterprises leverage e-commerce to grow their business.
Kumar said the move will help deepen base of products on the marketplace platform.