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Flipkart Vs Infibeam: Who Gets The Traffic

10 May, 2011

Updated Graph

 

These two Indian startups have a lot in common except for that Flipkart is VC-funded to the tune ofanywhere between $10-15 million while Infibeam is backed by the founder’s money. Both were established in 2007 as online book retailers and have been scaling up at a consistently fast pace to become the top e-commerce sites in India today. According to this interesting graph on Google Trends which depicts the traffic statistics of the two Internet companies, both companies are fighting neck to neck on the traffic front.

The graph shows the daily unique visitors to both the websites across a period of around 2.5 years. According to the graph, Flipkart experienced a leap in traffic in the beginning of 2009 but fell in June to meet Infibeam‘s slow and steadily rising traffic. The traffic growth lines of the two companies entwines between June 2009 and March 2010 and separates as Flipkart’s line falls into a trough, although it recovers around mid-June 2010. Not to be left behind, Infibeam has also been experiencing higher traffic, and now both the sites are almost at the same level.

Remember, we are only talking about Internet traffic. After the recent flurry of TV ads by Flipkart, the company may have managed to increase its brand awareness among general masses and that may be yet to translate into Internet traffic.

Please note this important caveat. Google Trends only provides insights into broad search patterns and there are several approximations. Google clearly states that all the traffic statistics shown are only estimates.

Infibeam

Infibeam began as an online book retailer but is now morphing into a supply chain management company. Over the years, the company added consumer electronics and handset retailing as well as used cars and bike classifieds. It also launched an ebook reader Pi and recently launched its infrastructure platform for retailers to set up their own online storefront.

Infibeam has not raised funding so far and is now planning to raise growth capital in the range of Rs 50-100 crore.

Flipkart

The Accel Partners and Tiger Global backed Flipkart also diversified from books into selling movie and music DVDs, games and consoles and mobile handsets. In December, the company acquired social book discovery tool WeRead from Lulu, a US-based on-demand publishing firm.

Flipkart is based in Bangalore. Watch our video of the startup on Techcircle.in where Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, the founders, take you through the making of the Flipkart story and the expansion plans ahead.

No Ads Needed

Mahesh Murthy,Partner, Seedfund and founder of Pinstorm, said in a tweet that Infibeam has achieved this without spending on ads. In comparison, this April, Flipkart launched ad campaigns to draw new users into its fold and create visibility for the Flipkart brand. Now the company is planning a couple more ad campaigns for the year. Murthy notes,”The big-budget TV, Print and online ad campaign for Flipkart seems to have made no appreciable difference to overall traffic according to data that is publicly visible. External data suggests that the traffic appears to be flat-lining since the campaign started.”

Murthy adds, “Flipkart did attempt what appears to be black-hat (or disallowed) SEO 2 years ago, in 2009 – but then seems to have been disqualified by the engines back then, lost SEO juice and traffic and has had to spend 2 years and a lot of money to build itself back to where it once was.”

However, word of mouth may work better for online startups. Murthy notes that top online brands such as Amazon, Ebay, Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have never advertised in any significant way during their startup periods. “The rule with brands in the 21st century seems to be – the more you need to spend on advertising the less you’re likely to succeed,” he concludes.

When contacted, Flipkart said that as a policy, it would not want to comment on competition / comparison stories and would not want to participate in the same.

Vishal Mehta, CEO, Infibeam.com, said, “Customers have known Infibeam by interacting with us and the resulting word-of-mouth is very powerful in building a brand. Our internal bias has always been to spend on things like best product prices, free shipping, new features and process (vs. advertising about our services). Word-of-mouth is extremely viral and customers notice us.”

Infibeam may be leveraging word of mouth and/or good SEO, Murthy says.

Now the battle lines are drawn in the cyberspace. Finally, the company which wins the heart of customers will begin a new chapter in e-commerce.


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22 Comments
Vaibhav Anand . 6 years ago

Hi,

It is an interesting analysis considering E-Commerce hasn’t taken off in India despite increasing internet penetration. I have been using Flipkart for the past 6 months and have introduced the website to many in my circle. There is no doubt that both Flipkart and Infibeam are India’s aspiring Amazons and both are competing head on. I have been using Flipkart and have experienced excellent customer service and responsiveness backed by a strong back end and IT System.

However, the recent marketing spends by Flipkart seems to be working as the site has attracted significant traffic as per the estimates (though statistical) provided by Alexa in the recent months and highlights increasing traffic gap between the two portals. Further, Flipkart is currently ranked 105 in terms of traffic in India compared to 203 for Infibeam. Jury is still out on how much of this increased traffic would eventually result in sales but for time, marketing spend seems to doing it function of attracting eyeballs.

Vaibhav Anand

Deloitte Consulting

Sridhar . 6 years ago

From where I am – it seems Flipkart has won the race! Their customer service is exceptional and thats what counts.

Sad to say, but as far as e-commerce is concerned – there is room for only one top dog and that happens to be Flipkart. You can compare this to runner-up carnage in US (which includes borders, Barnes and Noble etc), Amazon just took off and let the competitors in the dust.

Sunil . 6 years ago

Yes Flipkart , customer services wins. In fact every business that is the differentiators that has remained.

http://aanekant.blogspot.com/2011/04/5-ways-to-rejuvenate-your-brand-u-and.html

Sudesh Bainsla . 6 years ago

I have used both Infibeam ann Flipkart to buy books. From my experience customer service offered by them both is good. But I never happen to buy more stuff from them because the prices they demand are always significantly more than whats asked for in actual physical markets (for eg. nehru place, lajpat nagar).

Srikanth . 6 years ago

1. fk had raised exactly 52.5 cr as of Mar 2010 (source: mca)

2. fks new self delivery network will allow them to grow very fast & beat everyone else in the market. 360buy in china was able to leap ahead of everyone else through cheap prices & self delivery network. details here: http://news.ichinastock.com/a/1303363278918.html

nitin raj . 6 years ago

Have a look at google trends for flipkart, infibeam search terms

http://www.google.com/trends?q=flipkart,infibeam&ctab=0&geo=in&geor=all&date=ytd&sort=0

flpikart is 4-5 times higher, and has seen a recent kick.

Mahesh Murthy’s analysis of equating brand with traffic is not that right. From the trends it is clear fipkart has direct increment in people interest – whether it is because of natural progression of flipkart brands or because of TVC or both

Krinal Mehta . 6 years ago

For E-commerce business what matters more is conversion rate rather than unique visitors. So if you can pen down the annual revenue of both these giants, you will get a better idea of who is leading the ecomm game. Another interesting thing I noticed is the layout of Infibeam website, much of it resembles to Amazon which sources say had something to do with the founder of Infibeam.

I personally haven’t made any transaction with Flipkart but my experience with Infibeam hasn’t been that good as compared to eBay or the likes like timtara for example when it comes to customer responsiveness. These guys are slow, dead slow in processing stuff and getting back to customer queries. I remember placing an inquiry with timtara in the late night hours (definitely don’t expect a call back at that time) and the next morning I had a call from them as well as an e-mail confirming the order details.

Price wise Infibeam has never attracted me 🙁 except for a few Magic Box deals which were sold off before I placed an order and I never got a favorable reply for the same. So you see, this is what counts as quoted by Shridhar in the comment above.

Will wait to see if Infibeam can take an initiative to match the standards of customer service provided by eBay.

Samarjit . 6 years ago

Is this a comparative food for thought story or a a strategically crafted one for one party i wonder 🙂

To me, the current WOM potential and reach of Flipkart is way ahead of infibeam… but yes the ad dollars and the marketing muscle behind Flipkart will be significantly higher… i would rate Flipkart higher both in terms of user interface design and experience … they have diversified (the pitfalls of greed and the dilution of identity!) but it hasn’t affected their character… while infibeam looks cluttered and lost… early days to predict e-commerce success stories… we have miles to go!

Abhinav Jain . 6 years ago

In my opinion, the initial battle is being led by Flipkart. There are a variety of things which are enabling this for Flipkart –

* Excellent customer service – till now ordered 15 – 20 times and never a problem – delivery always faster than estimated (not that Infibeam would be far behind)

* Really simple and neat UI – the clutter always drives me away from Infibeam

* The recent flurry of advertizing should help Flipkart increase brand awareness as well as the trust that users can put in an online system. In India, the consumers are very reluctant to use their credit cards or net-banking accounts, if they have one, though this is slowly changing. The advertizing creates an image that the brand is a big stable one and you can be sure that the credit-card etc. will not be mis-used. (In fact, the clutter on the homepage makes the site more like spam and a simple site seems more elegant and trustworthy.)

* We need to look at the real traffic analyses than the graph provided by Google Trends and my feel is that the real traffic trend would be closer to the updated graph posted above.

Overall, I think Infibeam has a longer way to go than Flipkart. Though I did find a couple of book titles on Infibeam which were not available on Flipkart. So the battle is still on and Infibeam can still win the war. My personal belief is that the Indian market might be able to handle more than one online retailer if both the players position themselves well. However, this will also depend on the battle that follows and how player react to the situation.

Abhinav Jain

IITK, IIMA

shymasree basu . 6 years ago

As a book lover or maybe a book junkie both these sites are indispensable for me.However I think flipkart may have a slight edge over infibeam since it also stocks a wide range of regional titles and also titles brought out by niche publishers publishing from different cities.Infibeam’s USP on the other hand is its stock of second hand titles which are available at unbelievable prices and a lot of the books are available in multiple editions along with their ebook versions.So you see someone like me is spoilt for choice.And the customer support personnel are also very friendly in both these organizations .I hope this business rivalry will continue and bring us book lovers generous rewards.So let the battle continue!

ArunV . 6 years ago

Judging a business’s worth by 2 google graphs isn’t a good idea I think. But if it is, Infibeam is Alexa India rank 192 while Flipkart is rank 101 (better). Quantcast also says similar results.

But I am definitely curious to hear what are those blackhat tricks.

Ashutosh . 6 years ago

Disappointed with the article and depth of research done, before claiming things. Have a look at this site http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/flipkart.com and compare it to http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/infibeam.com and everything will be clear

dr k vidyashankar . 6 years ago

flipcart.com service is really good.I donot have any idea about infibeam.com

adithya . 6 years ago

I have used only flipkart and can’t comment on Infibeam..For my initial two orders there was a big delay in delivery of books since they were using first flight couriers…But now since they have introduced Self delivery,I received books in time and without any damage…When it comes to books there is no doubt,flipkart will be my first choice…

Pradeep . 6 years ago

I have always used infibeam for buying books and my experience with infibeam.com is highly positive, I have always got the delivery before the scheduled time, never tried flipkart because I find books on infibeam at better price.

Vikas Sethia . 6 years ago

To me, it looks like a advertisement stunt by infibeam. I had never heard about infibeam & my experiences with FLipkart is good.

Birendra Singh . 6 years ago

Hi Ashutosh,

http://www.alexa.com can not give the visitor information correctly. The only visitors who have installed the alexa tool in browser will be tracked. Think how many internet users know about alexa tool in India.

On the other hand if website is using Google analytic then Google trend will give the correct information about the visitors, this its tested. Before checking Google trends first check whether website is using Google analytic as tracking.

Thanks

Expert Web Promotion

Birendra Singh

Rajendra Grewal . 6 years ago

I have sourced many books , over the last two years,from both flipkart and infibeam. My only dissatisfaction with infibeam is that they bill for items that are stocked out, and then take months to refund the amount to my credit card. My experience with international

e-tailers [ B&N , and other specific sites] has been mixed. B&N does not use USPS, but does deliver on time, occasionally! My other e-tailers , after some verification with the parent company [ whose products they re-sell] have been exceedingly reliable, honest,and

with a real HUMAN INTERFACE = replies within 24 hours, and all special instructions followed to the letter.

Sameer Sainani . 6 years ago

I chanced upon this article while doing a search on infibeam and after having checked their website… the website surely made me realize that infibeam is as big/organized as flipkart, if not more. Sitting next to me were two of my collegues, who are fairly heavy buyers on flipkart – one of them ordering 4-5 books a month thru flipkart. And even they were taken by surprise when they saw they infibeam website…

The point here being that word of mouth is a great way of building a brand, but in todays world, businesses need to move much faster and need to scale up – if they dont grab a customer today, then someone else surely will. And then to convert that customer from competition, it will require a far higher degree of effort and will come at much higher cost. Loyalties are always difficult to break.

So while word of mouth is always good and better than any form of advertising, it takes its own sweet time to build a thresold level … in today’s world, where building a business is also a race against time, it may not be prudent to build a brand only thru word of mouth. Businesses need advertising and word of mouth can add to it.

You may have a great idea, but once others get to know of it, they may end up doing a better job by making it bigger. In competition, you dont always get a second chance – if not now, then probably never.

DEBASISH MANDAL, Bhopal . 6 years ago

I would rate infibeam on top above Flipkart. Reasons are mentioned below.

1) While comparing the rate of the same book(same ISBN no.) ,You’ll find in 80% cases the rate is lower in infibeam. The difference in rate vary upto 50%!

2) You’ll find many foreign publisher books in infibeam (used and very good condition) at a very cheap rate (even 20% of original price).

3) Packing is superior than flipkart.

Hitesh Sharma . 6 years ago

Infibeam tied up with NDTV for a wide angel shopping platform know as NDTV Shopping. As well as Kingfisher know as Kingfisher Club Shopping.

Both Powered by Infibeam, that is a wise strategy to share the traffic and customer with the business models which directly do not have any online shopping head into there venture.

Online add and spending money is the most easiest way one can make a mark, however I rank Infibeam high for the effort full steady Business.

Hitesh

hitesh.s1188@gmail.com

hitesh1188( Twitter )

Chandan . 6 years ago

Ordered on both the websites.

Infibeam: Pro:

1. Price is always cheaper/equal to flipkart.com. Thus I mostly purchase at infibeam. Because of its lower cost. Good job infibeam. In this www era, a customer can find the price in just few click on different websites. And finally order from the site where price is least. So, instead of investing on advertisement, you preferred to keep your price lower, which is taking you upward gradually. Slowly but steady 🙂

2. Good customer service.

Cons:

1. They send from Delhi, which may take 2-3 days at least(I’m from Bangalore). Not a big issue untill you are in urgency.

2. If you make pre-payment , and cancel the order, they don’t revert the amount completely. You have two options: Either keep the full amount as infibeam-credit on their website or get some amount deducted to get your money back. (That’s why I always chose Cash On Delivery option 🙂

FLipkart: Pro:

1. Very fast service. Most of the time I got the product within 24 hours. (May be because they have a local office at Bangalore).

Cons:

1. Price is higher compared to infibeam. I think they should know that when making an online order, the price of a product is just a click away on different websites. So I’d recommend them that instead of investing on advertisement, invest that money to make your price cheaper. Because even after looking at your add on TV, I always compare price with other website before making a purchase. So if you are even Rs 1 INR higher than infibeam or other website, I go ahead with them.

Verdict:

In most of the cases: Infibeam goes as my first choice because of LOWER PRICES.

Flipkart Vs Infibeam: Who Gets The Traffic

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