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Flipkart to offer same day delivery amid rising e-commerce battle

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BANGALORE: The ongoing battle for supremacy in the Indian online retail industry already has a clear winner — the customer — as companies trip over each other to provide the best and most innovative service. The latest salvo has come from Flipkart, the market leader, which on Monday launches same-day delivery across all categories in 10 cities. The importance of customer service, especially in last-mile delivery, is apparent as the Bangalore-based online marketplace has launched three new services in April.

The seven-year-old firm, which reached the milestone of annual sales of $1 billion (over Rs 6,000 crore) in March, has introduced deliveries on Sundays in 10 cities when a customer places an order on Saturday. Most other online sites do not deliver on Sundays. It is also piloting “try and buy” for a few fashion categories like men’s and women’s jeans in Bangalore.

“We have been working on this service (same-day delivery) for quite some time and we felt this is the right time to launch,” said Sachin Bansal, co-founder and chief executive of Flipkart. “Customers want quick service and we are able to offer this to them at scale.” These delivery features come at a time when there is a growing feeling among experts that Flipkart has been slipping up on customer service innovation and losing out to Amazon India.

Amazon.in, which entered the Indian market just 10 months ago, has scaled up its product selection rapidly and has about 23 categories offering over 15 million products. It launched women’s ethnic apparel less than a week ago. Earlier this month, Flipkart said it had millions of products across 21 categories and 40 sub-categories. At peaktimes, the Bangalore-based company ships 1.3 lakh products a day. Amazon India has been testing out a number of new features on the service side too. In March, it launched same-day delivery as a pilot in Mumbai.

“Flipkart should know the Indian customer better and provide innovative solutions faster,” said Ashish Jhalani, head of advisory firm eTailing India. “They should figure out something that Amazon is just not able to do in India.” Flipkart’s Bansal said that that being the leader in innovation is important for the company. “But we do not believe in thinking small. We want to expand services to as many categories and geographies as possible.” In fact, the competition to provide better customer service in last-mile delivery is evident in the way Flipkart and Amazon have been playing catch up.

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