Flipkart to launch F-Assured to take on Amazon Prime as focus shifts to quality

India's largest online marketplace, Flipkart is devising an aggressive strategy to enhance the customer experience of shopping online from its platform and also fine tune its delivery service. The apparent objective is to take on its larger global rival, which is fast gaining customer acceptance and market share.

Flipkart is about to launch an initiative named F-Assured to replace its existing programme, Flipkart Advantage, said a report in The Economic Times. Though aimed at youngsters who haven't yet started shopping online, it will available to all customers.



F-Assured also preempts the launch of Amazon Prime, which is likely to be launched in India soon, the ET report said.

Amazon Prime is a priority subscription service from the global giant. Apart from faster delivery of items, it also offers unlimited video streaming service for subscribers. According to this report in Factor Daily, Amazon plans to invest $300 million in India to start the video streaming  in the country and is in talks with Bollywood producers to fund movies and series ideas.

However, it is not clear whether F-Assured will have a video streaming service. According to the ET report, the service will be available across all sectors but the focus will be on select categories like mobiles, large appliances, home and electronics.

"With F-Assured, a customer will get products that Flipkart promises will undergo six different quality checks... a better return policy and same or next-day free delivery," a source has been quoted as saying in the ET report.

F-Assured replaces the online marketplace's earlier program, Flipkart Advantage which was launched in 2014, and offered similar benefits. This initiative was timed with Amazon's 'Fulfilled by Amazon' initiative.

A Flipkart Advantage stamp on a product that the customer bought meant the product had been quality checked and shipped  by Flipkart. It allowed for 30-day hassle-free product returns as well as options such as same day delivery or in-a-day delivery service.

Along with F-Assured, the ET says, Flipkart is introducing other initiates such as sending its engineers home when a customer buys a smartphone so that they can get help with technology solutions, if needed. A marketing campaign will also be out next month targeting 25-30-year-olds.

A step further from discounts

The move has to be seen in the context of the shake-up that is currently happening in the Indian e-commerce space, with fund flow narrowing and government rules regulating the discount sales. Valuation mark downs have become a common place, with Flipkart itself seeing its value falling to about $9 billion in May from $15 billion a year earlier.

Experts had earlier told Firstpost that e-commerce companies now need to focus on quality of service and customer experience as discounts and freebies do not ensure loyal customers.

Harshil Mathur, CEO and Co-Founder, Razorpay - a payments platform for small medium businesses and larger e-commerce companies who want to run their business online had said that customer delight went beyond good customer experience.

"It means that a firm exceeds customer expectations and gives them a pleasant surprise with an unexpected product/service quality. The hunger for revenue growth should be balanced with good customer experience,” Mathur had said.

Perhaps, with this new program and other initiatives in the pipeline, Flipkart will be able to widen its customer base and assure loyalty to its platform.

Updated Date: Jul 20, 2016 09:31 AM

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