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Flipkart follows Amazon’s lead, starts diverting focus towards groceries business

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Following in the footsteps of Amazon, Flipkart, the homegrown e-commerce platform, is now also planning to shift focus on the groceries business. With this bet on groceries, the company is hoping to retain customers and make them come back on a regular basis.

This move comes at a time when the company is struggling to expand its reach in the online market and former Tiger Global exec Kalyan Krishnamurthy has taken over the role of chief executive. He has also brought back two executives — Manish Kumar and Nitin Rajput, to help launch the new category.

Manish and Nitin, when left Flipkart, teamed up last year to launch a hyperlocal start-up. However, they have now folded their venture and re-joined Flipkart to drive the groceries category, said people aware of the matter. Manish Kumar will be leading the new category.

Also, the platform is planning to launch private brands as part of its push into groceries. Flipkart is considering to introduce its own brand of pulses and other groceries in segments where brands are scarce and margins relatively high.

While it is confirmed that the company has shifted its focus to the groceries business, it is not yet known whether Flipkart is going to launch a separate app (Amazon has one) for this or not. This move also seems to fall in line with company’s roadmap. Earlier, Flipkart’s then CEO Binny Bansal said that the company was “doing some experiments” when asked about their entry into packaged consumer products. Also, earlier this year, former E-kart head Saikiran Krishnamurthy said that the firm would expand into hyperlocal deliveries, including food.

Earlier, Flipkart had experiment with grocery delivery under its pilot project — Flipkart Nearby. It delivered fruits, vegetables, soaps and other staples from supermarkets to customers within an hour of receiving an order. However, after nearly five month of its launch, it was decided that operations would be shut down, mainly due to poor customer demand and a lack of margins. It will be interesting to see how Flipkart uses grocery this time as a means to take the pole position in the Indian online commerce sector.

Amazon recently debuted the Amazon Now app — specifically focused on groceries and daily essentials. It is currently available in Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bangalore, and Hyderabad. The service was available as a pilot project under the name Kirana Now. It promises delivery within two hours of placing the order.

Flipkart has undergone massive restructuring a couple of times in last one year. In January, it changed its CEO for the second time in one year, replacing Binny Bansal with Kalyan Krishnamurthy and Binny Bansal became Group CEO. Krishnamurthy returned to Flipkart in an emergency measure taken by the company’s board, to boost up sales and take on Amazon India.

He has been a technology writer since more than five years. At The Tech Portal, he covers gadgets, startups and the good and bad of tech.

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