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Flipkart now claims to have over 100 million registered users on its platform. But do they really??

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We’ve been hearing numerous reports of Flipkart having a hard time coping with little or no money in its coffers alongwith top-level management exits. The customer numbers released today however, say otherwise. Flipkart, the leading Indian e-commerce firm, has itself announced that it has crossed the milestone mark of 100 million registered customers on its platform(so to say!).

To achieve this milestone, Flipkart has doubled its user base over the last year and added 25 million users in the past six months alone. This makes Flipkart the first e-commerce company in India to have such an enormous number of customers shopping on its platform.

With this, Flipkart has become the first company to reach this milestone in a single country outside the United States and China. With 100 million users, Flipkart’s registered customer base stands at around 63% of entire wireless and wireline broadband connections in India(woah!). The figures released by TRAI in September 2016 put the number of broadband connections in the country at just a little under 160 million.

Commenting on this, Binny Bansal, CEO & Co-Founder of Flipkart, said,

We would like to thank our entire family of 100 million customers who have been a part of this wonderful journey. This is a small step in our efforts to build a platform that provides quality products accessible and affordable to millions of Indians shopping online.

Since the time we sold the first book to our first customer in 2007 till today, our journey has always been about providing a superior shopping experience to our customers while continuously raising the quality of service and selection. This milestone has further energized us to ramp-up our efforts and build a world-class shopping destination.

But, the important point that each and every layman reader skimping through this article would miss is the fact that Flipkart is boasting about touching the 100 million mark in total number of ‘REGISTERED’ users. Yes, the registered users. And that’s where the crux of the discussion lies. You can, in short, call it a game. A liar’s game.

According to Google India, there were 35 million online shoppers in India in 2014 Q1 and is expected to cross 100 million mark by end of year 2016. So, it probably means that there aren’t a total of 100 million e-commerce marketplace users in India at the moment, then how is Flipkart celebrating the existance of the same number of registered users on its platform?

Before going further, for the sake of discussion, let’s define a registered user for any digital business operating in 2016. The ‘registered user’ metric depicts the total number of user accounts that have been created on the platform, and this is most likely to take into account the multiple fake accounts one creates to gain that cashback offers or deals that might be applicable for first time users only. None of these users will use 10 accounts to make regular purchases on the platform, but will eventually make another new account — if any offer pertaining to the same is running. Thus, this renders the other 9 registrations redundant and unaccounted for.

So, could one see this as the best way to depict a noticeable growth of the company?

Well, Flipkart seems to think so because it is willfully presenting the numbers, sending personal mails to ‘registered’ users — all in a battle to show the users that it’s way superior to its archenemy Amazon. But, on the contrary, any smart person who understands the basics of business knows that the ‘daily active users’ or in this case, for an e-commerce platform — ‘the gross sales value’ are the only key metrics that matter the most. And boasting away about the 100 million registered user mark is worthless and doesn’t demand your utmost attention.

Believe me on this! Flipkart, who was once a unicorn, is currently a sinking ship with an enormous hole in its bottom. It is currently facing a funding crunch(due to non-acceptance for a down round), much more work load on the current senior level management(due to exit of corresponding personnel from that posts) and the surmounting losses(we all know that). Take this account before judging and saying ‘wow’ to the aforementioned 100 billion registered user milestone.

Now, if you’re satisfied with either Flipkart’s wishful thinking or our point of view on the whole aforementioned scenario — in short — a hoax, then go on to read about the hoard of policies the e-commerce giant is using to attract more users to its platform.

This year, the Bangalore-based e-commerce firm has introduced a slew of customer initiatives and innovations such as No Cost EMI, Easy Product Exchange, India’s first UPI based mobile payments app- PhonePe and Flipkart Assured– India’s first Quality and Speed assurance programme.

Last month, the company was emerged as India’s most trusted and the most preferred e-commerce platform in a nationwide consumer study named ‘E-tailing Leadership Index’, conducted by research firm RedSeer Consulting.

The Indian e-commerce market is among the fastest growing in the world and the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Report released in September 2016 confirmed Flipkart as the market leader with over 43% market share.

The report further said that by 2019, Flipkart will continue to lead with a 44% share of the e-commerce market. The Morgan Stanley report on E-commerce in India released in February 2016 also placed Flipkart as the number one e-commerce company in India with a market share of 45%.

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