Flipkart launches speedy, loyalty service to take on Amazon

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The logo of India's largest online marketplace Flipkart is seen on a building in Bengaluru, India, April 22, 2015. After losing top engineering talent for years to America's tech heartland of Silicon Valley, India is luring them back as an e-commerce boom sparks a thriving start-up culture, unprecedented pay, and perks including free healthcare for in-laws. Picture taken April 22, 2015. To match INDIA-ECOMMERCE/WORKERS. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa - RTX1BBUK

Mumbai: India’s largest e-commerce company Flipkart has launched a loyalty service called Flipkart Assured, promising speedier delivery of products and better quality of service, as it attempts to compete with the launch of Prime by arch rival Amazon India.

The eligible products will be labelled “Flipkart Assured” on a blue badge; these products would go through a six-level quality check process and will be delivered within two to four days across India, the company said in the statement.

The checks are based on packaging, product specifications, product ratings, and return ratio, among others.

Flipkart Assured is part of the company’s strategy to improve its consumer experience, which suffered badly last year when it tried moving to a marketplace model.

Mint reported on 9 August that Flipkart wants to achieve a net promoter score (NPS) of 55 (from 30 currently) by improving the speed and consistency of product deliveries and improving its product returns management. NPS is a measure that indicates the loyalty of a firm’s customers and the overall quality of its service.

Amazon India (Amazon Seller Services Pvt. Ltd) launched its famed Prime service late last month, offering fast and discounted product deliveries, early access to discounted deals and exclusive products for an initial annual fee of Rs.499, which will later increase to Rs.999. The company said it will offer video content to Prime customers in future.

“(Flipkart Assured) is a continuation of Flipkart’s commitment to customers by enabling the highest quality of shopping experience.” Flipkart chief marketing officer Samardeep Subandh said in a statement.

In 2014, Flipkart had launched a similar service called Flipkart First, which flopped with customers as the company didn’t throw its weight behind the service.

To ensure a better customer uptake this time, Flipkart said it has undertaken “deep efforts across its entire value chain to launch this programme.”

Apart from the quality check process, all Flipkart Assured purchases will be packed and shipped by the company.

“This programme is enabled by world class algorithm developed by Flipkart’s data scientists. The algorithm blends a wide range of factors, which includes customer returns, ratings, seller cancellations and other performance related factors integral to a great experience online. This algorithm then badges a product Flipkart Assured purely based on performance. The feedback loop on top of this ensures the algorithm gets progressively better,” the company said.

Flipkart’s move back to a retail-heavy model is likely to help the company with its efforts to expand Flipkart Assured. The company currently has 85,000 sellers but it is moving a majority of its sales to a handful of so-called alpha sellers to gain more control over product quality and delivery, Mint reported on 5 April.