Flipkart, a competitor to Amazon in India, is looking to offer customers delivery of an order within two to three hours, ramping up the game for satisfying the 'I want it NOW' generation. According to an article in the Times of India, Flipkart, via its logistics subsidiary, ekart, is evaluating which products and cities it can start with even as it considers pricing for the service, which could be rolled out in the coming six months.
India's e-commerce space has grown rapidly in the last few years since Flipkart first started operations in 2007, when most deliveries took a few days. Now, the three top on-line retail firms — Amazon India, Flipkart and Snapdeal — offer same-day delivery in big cities for a fee. They deliver the next day for free in the big cities but deliveries can take longer outside these areas.
Faster delivery could, therefore, prove to be a game-changer in the country's fiercely competitive e-commerce space, reckon experts, and shortening the shipping time to a few hours may draw more users. This could also persuade Amazon India to bring the service to the country. Its parent ships goods, including detergents and shampoos, to consumers in Manhattan in 60 minutes for a $7.99 fee.
To be sure, there are more than a few wrinkles that need to be ironed out, said experts.
"There are two important things retailers need to get right to make this work," said Karan Girotra, professor of sustainable development at Insead. "First, they need to select a small subset of their offerings which are available with these time frames. Second, meeting this delivery promise requires organisations to build very different logistics and operational systems than those necessary for traditional delivery route-based delivery systems For instance, retailers may need to have many more warehouses in central parts of the city to make these work."
Flipkart, which already offers users across 10 cities same-day delivery, says it has a strong logistics and delivery team in place, with 13 warehouses and over 12,000 people helping with last-mile delivery.
The interesting aspect of this strategy is the rapidity with which great new ideas in supply chain can quickly travel across seas and be adopted in developing nations, skipping a lot of the complex manufacturer/distributor/retailer/customer supply chains that developed nations went through over the last century. Less infrastructure, better service, and happier customers is the result.