There’s a term called first-mover advantage and it isn’t just an old wives tale. It is the advantage gained by the first significant occupant of a market segment. It seems like the Indian e-commerce market is witnessing something similar, with Flipkart having established itself as the biggest player in the industry due to its early entry in the market. While Amazon has pumped in billions in the market, it still isn’t close to Flipkart’s share (which is almost three times that of Amazon’s). Among other things, a good number of smartphones also get sold on these sites and here’s where Amazon is a mile behind its Indian peer. Here’s why.
Even after all these years, the Indian smartphone market is still driven by entry level handsets. Yes, we’ve moved up from sub $100 to maybe $100-200 phones, but ultimately these low cost phones still drive majority of the volumes. It is in this segment that players like Xiaomi, Lenovo, Asus and some Indian manufacturers are selling the highest volumes. What’s more, these players are effectively using online channel to drive sales. In order to differentiate themselves from the crowd, many of them have even signed exclusive deals with e-commerce companies and that’s what is hurting Amazon right now. Apart from the Yureka series, Amazon doesn’t have any other exclusive deals in this segment. Flipkart on the other hand has got Lenovo on its side, which is making some of the best phones in this budget right now. It’s also selling some exclusive phones from Huawei, Motorola, Asus and some Indian players. In fact, they’ve opened a section on their site for exclusive phones and it is huge by any scale. Checking our list of best phones under Rs 10,000, you’d notice that none of them are available on Amazon.
Even the ones that are (Redmi 2, Redmi Note) available on Amazon are out of stock most of the times, leaving customers with no choice but to go to Flipkart instead. Yes, Amazon is tying with new players for exclusive deals, but instead, it should focus on bringing the current ones that are flocked at Flipkart to its turf. Flipkart has become the place to go if you want some publicity for your phone and manufacturers have realized this long back. Amazon on the other hand, is just playing the catch up game on the back of its deep pockets, but it cannot always follow the same strategy.