Flipkart Is Looking To Launch A Quick Commerce Play To Take On Zepto, Blinkit

Even as quick commerce firms have been eyeing the e-commerce space by looking to deliver items other than just groceries, e-commerce firms are eyeing their space right back.

Flipkart is looking to enter the quick commerce space, Techcrunch reports. Flipkart could launch an instant-delivery service available in select locations as early as May this year. This will be the company’s fourth attempt at the grocery delivery space.

“At Flipkart, customer-centricity is at the core of everything we do,” a Flipkart spokesperson said. “We constantly work towards delivering a wide range of products to customers with speed. Over the past few months, we have made several investments to enhance our delivery capabilities, including adding same-day delivery in 20 cities. This covers mobiles, essential items, electronics, home appliances, fashion, books and lifestyle products,” they added. They also said that the company is “committed to meeting evolving customer expectations and delivering excellence in value, selection and speed, with more initiatives expected on this front in the coming months.”

This is quite a turnaround from just over two years ago, when Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy had said that 10-minutes deliveries wasn’t the right business model, and had instead batted for 30-45 minute deliveries. “I don’t think that’s (15-minute delivery) the right long-term customer model,” he had said. “We would look at a more sustainable business which offers it in 30-45 minutes with good value and selection. That’s the way we look at the convenience business rather than force-fitting a consumer need which is actually not there in the market,” he had added.

And Flipkart had been taking steps in that direction. In 2020, Flipkart had launched a service named Flipkart Quick, which was a 90-minute delivery service for electronics and groceries. While Flipkart Quick had started off from Bengaluru, it had failed to gain sufficient traction. It had been reported in late 2022 that Flipkart Quick had scaled down its operations, and the company had ‘realigned’ its priorities.

It now appears that Flipkart is willing to take another stab at the quick commerce space. This move appears to have been motivated by the traction that Zepto and Blinkit have seen over recent months — both companies have been rapidly expanding operations, and the services are becoming popular in urban India. To make matters worse for Flipkart, these companies now no longer want to be restricted to just groceries, but are looking to sell all manner of items including electronics.

This could end up taking away a large chunk of Flipkart’s market share — while they haven’t quite proved they can do so at scale, if Blinkit and Zepto could start delivering mobile phones in 10 minutes, they could find lots of takers for their services. Flipkart, for its part, appears to be looking to preempt this eventuality with launching a quick commerce play of its own.

But it might not be straightforward for Flipkart to launch its own quick commerce service. Flipkart is now more than a decade old, and to change its DNA from regular commerce to quick commerce might not be trivial. Also, Flipkart’s newer ventures haven’t quite worked out in the past — it had tried launching Flipkart Nearby in 2015, Flipkart Supermart in 2017, and Flipkart Quick in 2020, all to deliver groceries, but ended up shuttering them all. Also, Flipkart now lags behind Amazon in affluent urban areas, so quick commerce customers might not quite have the connect with the brand that they once did. But Flipkart seems intent on entering the quick commerce space, and if it plays its cards right, could well end up mounting a challenge to the fast-growing incumbents in Zepto and Blinkit.