Ananya Pathak
Interviews

"Pandemic has given new meaning to hyperlocal model in e-comm”: Sandeep Karwa on Flipkart Quick

We interviewed Flipkart’s vice president about 'Flipkart Quick', the recently launched 90-minute grocery delivery service by the brand.

Flipkart, the leading e-commerce service which was founded in October 2007, recently introduced a hyperlocal service called ‘Flipkart Quick’. With this service, the brand aims to deliver a handpicked assortment of 2,000-plus products, including grocery, fresh dairy, meat, mobiles, electronics accessories, stationery items and home accessories, to the consumers in the first phase.

The service is currently available on the Flipkart app in select locations of Bengaluru. The customers can choose to get their order delivered within 90 minutes of placing their order, or they can book a two-hour delivery slot.

The products will be delivered between 6 a.m. and midnight, at a fee of Rs 29. The service is aimed at tapping new consumers by widening the accessibility of products and ensuring quick delivery.

We spoke to Flipkart’s vice president Sandeep Karwa to find out more about the service.

Sandeep Karwa
Sandeep Karwa

With over 16 years of industry experience, Karwa joined Flipkart as a senior manager in May 2012. Having worked in various managerial roles at the Bengaluru-based brand in the last eight years, he currently leads innovation and new bets as the VP. In his prior stints, he has worked with The MobileStore, ICICI Lombard, Cognizant and Atos Syntel.

Edited excerpts:

Where will Flipkart get the grocery from - its own warehouses, or local (kirana) stores?

Flipkart Quick has been introduced with the aim to provide consumers with a wide assortment of quality products in a fast, efficient and reliable manner. To enable this, we will be leveraging our tech capabilities and supply chain infrastructure.

Flipkart hubs will bring together the access and might of the neighbourhood stores to cater to the daily needs of the consumers. We will be working with our existing and fresh seller partners to source the products, and they will be fulfilled through Flipkart hubs, which are in close proximity to our consumers’ location.

How are you building the infrastructure for it?

With Flipkart Quick, we are looking to further modernise consumers' daily shopping experience in terms of product accessibility, availability and affordability. All these are riding on wide selection, top quality of products and an all new location mapping technology framework. Since the hyperlocal delivery model will further widen our accessibility and has an assurance of quicker deliveries, we will be able to tap into a new set of consumers.

Our Flipkart stores (dark stores, no walk-ins) will bring together the access and might of neighbourhood stores and kiranas to cater to the daily needs of the consumers. In the first stage, we are launching in Bengaluru. We also have plans to work with kiranas, retail chains and speciality stores in the next year. These partnerships will further increase the selection of offerings for our consumers.

What geographical areas are you covering in the first phase?

The initial rollout has begun in select locations of Bengaluru, including Whitefield, Panathur, HSR Layout, BTM Layout, KR Puram and Indiranagar.

In the COVID environment, what gives you the confidence that you've got it right, especially when established players exist in the market?

The pandemic has given rise to a complete new meaning to the hyperlocal model in e-commerce. Perhaps, a category that many thought was mere convenience, is now a long-term essential service.

Hyperlocal capabilities can be described simply as building connections between locally available products and consumers in a particular area. This is a great model for India as households of all sizes are already used to their neighborhood stores.

In fact, Indian families are so comfortable with what we call the ‘hyperlocal context’, that there is a tendency to develop deep, familial ties with vendors, shopkeepers and service providers - now with the convenience of e-commerce.

Hyperlocal category has led to a significant change in consumer psyche and expectations. With the advent of e-commerce and digitisation, modern families are not attached to the old kiranas anymore. They prefer to shop from large format stores and supermarkets.

But India is a land built on nationalism, bonds and emotional relationships between communities. If we were to predict how the next few years would pan out, especially post-pandemic, the dependency on your own community, neighbourhood will continue to be heightened.

Being a homegrown e-commerce marketplace, Flipkart has a deep understanding of the needs of Indian consumers. We have studied the market demands very intently, and have the advantage of analysing the trends and responding to it in the most efficient way.

Our hyperlocal service is backed by in depth market research, analysis of demand and consumer behaviour. As mentioned before, Flipkart Quick is built on Flipkart’s robust supply chain capabilities and technological innovations to address the evolving needs of the consumers.

Who is your target audience?

There has been a steady rise in online buyers, along with a transformation in consumption patterns and spending habits of consumers. A preference for on-demand delivery is also being witnessed.

Riding on wide selection, top-class quality and a new location mapping technology framework, Flipkart Quick aims to tap new consumers by widening the accessibility of products, as well as make the offering available to Flipkart’s loyal base of customers.

Do you see unbranded shops as a competition?

As stated before, our hyperlocal model has the potential of encouraging both local entrepreneurship as well as enabling new business strategies and partnerships. Flipkart Quick will also ensure that last mile delivery is fulfilled in a safe and sanitised manner, while enabling avenues for offline stores to run safely.

It is a very big market that holds a strong potential for growth and deeper market penetration. We are constantly looking at new and innovative avenues for local partnerships that will not only help us serve our consumers better, but also empower the local and smaller players in the ecosystem. Our collaboration with kiranas, resellers and general trade stores are testament to our efforts in that direction.

Flipkart Quick is backed by in depth market research, analysis of demand and consumer behaviour, and is built to widen accessibility and cater to the varied needs of the consumer. We have leveraged our technology capabilities and robust supply chain to present a hyperlocal solution that can offer an unmatched shopping experience to our consumers.