Amazon and Flipkart stand at the pinnacle of India’s booming e-commerce sector. While Flipkart began as a homegrown brand in India in 2007, which initially sold books, Amazon, since entering the market in 2013, has emerged as Flipkart’s biggest competitor. Though they share some similarities, from business models to product categories, Amazon and Flipkart have some notable differences when it comes to operations, services, strategies and more.
Amazon vs. Flipkart
While both the companies were initially founded with the goal of selling books, both Amazon and Flipkart have rapidly expanded into other sectors. Flipkart was founded in India in 2007 by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal who were incidentally former Amazon employees. Jeff Bezos established Amazon in his garage in Bellevue, Washington, on July 5, 1994. Initially serving as an online platform primarily focused on books, Amazon has since expanded into a wide array of product categories, a strategic approach that has led to its popular nickname, "The Everything Store."
Difference Between Amazon and Flipkart in Tabular Form
|Founding Year||1994 in Bellevue, Washington, by Jeff Bezos||2007 in Bangalore, India, by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal|
|Founding Story||Began as an online bookstore and expanded to become the world's largest online retailer.||Began as an online bookstore and pivoted to broad e-commerce with a focus on India|
|Headquarters||Seattle, Washington, USA||Bangalore, Karnataka, India|
|Global Presence||Websites and operations in 18+ countries||Focused solely on the domestic market in India|
|Leadership||Andy Jassy, CEO since 2021||Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO since 2017|
|Primary Business Areas||Online and physical stores, cloud computing, digital streaming, AI, logistics||E-commerce marketplace, fintech, logistics|
|Key Product Categories||Electronics, apparel, furniture, grocery, cloud computing, entertainment||Mobiles, fashion, appliances, home, baby, grocery|
|Revenue(FY2022)India||214.62 billion Indian rupees||511 billion Indian rupees|
|Valuation||$16 billion in 2022 in India||$40 billion in 2022 in India|
Amazon: The Global Giant
Amazon is no stranger to disrupting industries. What began as a humble online bookstore out of Jeff Bezos' garage has now grown into one of Earth’s most powerful retail giants. It has been often referred to as one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world “ .Amazon rapidly evolved from peddling paperbacks to dominating category after category of goods, bulldozing traditional retailers along the way. Today, Amazon’s empire stretches across 20 countries and counting. Its supremacy spans not just e-commerce but cloud computing, streaming entertainment, voice AI, logistics and more. The company's valuation breezed past $1 trillion in 2018, cementing its status as an unstoppable force transforming commerce.
A Brief History of Amazon
The Evolution of an Everything Store Empire
1994 - Jeff Bezos founded Amazon as an online book retailer out of his Seattle garage.
1995 - Amazon.com went live to the public, offering over 1 million book titles.
1997 - Amazon went public at $18 per share, raising $54 million in funding.
1998 - Amazon expanded into selling music and videos, laying the groundwork as an everything store.
1999 - Amazon branched out internationally, launching sites in the UK and Germany.
2000 - The company ventured into consumer electronics, toys, home furnishings and more. Amazon also unveiled 1-Click shopping.
2001 - Amazon launched Amazon Web Services to provide cloud computing services.
2007 - Amazon released its first Kindle e-reader and entered the hardware space.
2013 - Amazon launched Amazon Prime, offering free 2-day shipping and streaming media perks.
2017 - Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, expanding into physical grocery retail.
2018 - Amazon's market cap exceeded $1 trillion. Alexa and Echo flooded homes.
2021 - Andy Jassy replaced Jeff Bezos as CEO as Amazon employed over 1.3 million people.
2022 - Amazon currently sells over 12 million products globally across 20 country sites.
Flipkart: Homegrown for India
While Amazon set out to conquer global retail, Flipkart found success by keeping its sights trained on its home turf of India. Founded in 2007 by former Amazon engineers Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, Flipkart began life in a Bangalore apartment as an online bookseller modeled after Amazon. However, the Bansals quickly realized that succeeding in India required localized expertise. While Amazon represented operational excellence, Flipkart needed to adapt to the unique challenges of Indian e-commerce. Factors like cash-based payments, complex logistics, lack of infrastructure and small-town access shaped Flipkart’s approach. The company pioneered concepts like flash sales and India-inspired products that resonated with consumers. Flipkart earned a valuation of over $11 billion by 2018 through smart capitalization, partnerships and an understanding of the Indian shopper's pulse.
A Brief History of Flipkart
2007 - Former Amazon employees Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal founded Flipkart as an online bookseller in Bangalore.
2008 - Flipkart expanded beyond books into categories like movies, music and mobiles.
2009 - The company launched its own delivery network, Ekart to optimize logistics.
2010 - Flipkart raised its first major funding round of $10 million from Tiger Global.
2011 - Categories expanded to include electronics, healthcare and more. Flipkart launched its Flyte digital music service.
2012 - Flipkart became India's largest e-commerce company. It acquired letsbuy.com to boost its market share.
2013 - Big funding rounds in 2013/2014 from investors like Naspers and Qatar Investment Authority fueled rapid growth.
2014 - Flipkart acquired Myntra to expand into fashion e-commerce. It also launched the Flipkart Appstore.
2016 - Further funding from Microsoft, Tencent and eBay helped Flipkart achieve unicorn status.
2017 - Flipkart made strategic acquisitions like eBay India and PhonePe to strengthen market dominance.
2018 - Walmart acquired a 77% stake in Flipkart for $16 billion. The Group CEO structure was implemented.
2021 - Flipkart went live in social commerce and quick grocery delivery to tap new opportunities.
2022 - Flipkart filed for IPO and claims over 350 million registered users with over 300 million downloads of its app.
Key Differences between Amazon and Flipkart in Points
While Amazon and Flipkart share some high-level similarities, they differ markedly in their operations, services and strategies tailored specifically for the Indian market.
Global Reach vs. Local Focus
Amazon operates across North America, Europe, Asia and beyond, while Flipkart focuses exclusively on the domestic Indian market and was founded by two Indians in the first place. This intense localization gives Flipkart an edge in understanding Indian consumers and customizing selections and services.
When Amazon entered India in 2013, it employed its typical aggressive expansion strategy to rapidly capture market share. Still, Flipkart's home-field advantage gives it the edge. Amazon has expanded aggressively, investing over $6.5 billion in India as of 2021. Yet Flipkart retains roughly 40% market share compared to Amazon's 30-34%, showing the strength of its localization strategy.
When Amazon first charged into India back in 2013, they came out guns blazing. Full steam ahead to grab market share fast with their global playbook.
Flipkart played smarter, not harder. They realized winning in India isn't just about tech or money. Flipkart built up partnerships with thousands of local sellers and stores. And they came up with sales and deals timed perfectly for India's festive seasons when spending spikes. It also acquired companies like Myntra and Jabong to gain dominance in high-demand categories like fashion.
Cut to 2022, and Flipkart is still the leader, holding 40% of e-commerce sales versus Amazon's 30-34% piece. Amazon keeps gunning to overtake with billions invested in India. But Flipkart's home-field advantage built on local ties and insight keeps them on top for now.
Amazon's become an empire by selling just about anything one would want. But they also hook customers with handy services like Prime Video for binge-watching movies and web series, Kindle for books, Web Services for programmers and so on.
Flipkart's keeping up by cooking up services of its own tailored to Indian needs. As of 2022, Flipkart offers stuff like mobile phone repair, AC servicing, and travel booking on its app. Plus its own loyalty program, Flipkart Plus, which has over 18 million members.
Amazon brought its classic perks to India, like Prime and Kindle Unlimited. But Flipkart's hyperlocal services edge Amazon out by catering specifically to customers here. After all, needs are a bit different than in America. Flipkart's services help make Indian lives easier and more convenient.
Supply Chain Operations
Both Amazon and Flipkart have invested heavily to optimize product deliveries across the country's expanse and varied infrastructure.
Amazon has committed over $6.5 billion to its India logistics infrastructure, according to Economic Times. This includes over 60 fulfilment centres, air transport capabilities and thousands of delivery stations. Amazon relies on a mix of its own delivery network and local third-party providers to offer services like same-day and one-day delivery.
Flipkart has followed suit, spending over $4 billion to strengthen its supply chain, according to Times of India. It acquired logistics companies like DotZot and Instakart to establish its Ekart logistics arm. Ekart now oversees a network of over 60 fulfilment centres and 80,000+ delivery partners to facilitate speedy delivery. Flipkart also uses external partners like Delhivery while owning much of its supply chain.
Amazon tried to copy its global playbook at first. The usual electronics, clothes, toys - you name it, they sold it.
But Flipkart was a homegrown shop. The founders realised that to really win in India, you need to think locally. Sell what Indian buyers want and need, not just what works in America.
Flipkart tailored its shelves carefully for the Indian market. The top categories were phones, appliances, and fashion - stuff growing like hotcakes in India's consumer boom. They also stocked up on furniture, baby supplies, and groceries. Things universal retailers ignore, but Indian families want
Amazon eventually got the memo. They now have over 160 million products available in India! From sarees to soap to school supplies, they drastically expanded to fight Flipkart. But Flipkart still has an edge in key departments. They bet on the right horses early. Plus, they work closely with local brands and sellers to get the primo Indian products. Amazon's trying to catch up on consumer insight now. But Flipkart first mover's advantage gave it a pole position through smart, locally-focused choices.
With both Flipkart and Amazon still private companies in India, we can't see their official books. However, available data shows Flipkart generating more revenue, but Amazon is reporting higher growth. In FY 2020-2021, Flipkart recorded $11.2 billion in revenue compared to Amazon’s $5 billion (PTI, 2022). Yet Amazon India's revenues grew 56% year-over-year compared to Flipkart's modest 17% growth (PTI, 2022).
It's a tortoise and hare scenario. Flipkart built its lead through local know-how in India's unique market. Yet global giant Amazon is hungry to devour territory with its deep resources and ambition.
Amazon arrived in India with its American playbook of technological prowess and aggressive expansion strategy. Flipkart prevailed on its home court by intelligently catering to local consumers and customizing operations for Indian conditions. Going forward, Amazon will need to learn from Flipkart to succeed in this complex yet highly rewarding market. Their unique approaches present different lessons for foreign companies eyeing opportunities in the next phases of India’s e-commerce evolution.