Trying to democratise opportunity for all: Flipkart CEO on 'Samarth'

Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Flipkart CEO
Flipkart, the e-commerce major, locked in an intense battle for leadership in the Indian market, has partnered five non-governmental organisations to help artisans use the online marketplace to sell their products. Flipkart Samarth has been designed to support artisans in their e-commerce journey from onboarding till they get familiar to selling products online, Group Chief Executive Officer Kalyan Krishnamurthy told Neha Alawadhi. Edited excerpts:

How does this programme fit in with your 2019-20 strategy? 

It is in direct alignment with what we’ve been doing so far. It is part of our strategy to grow our micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) seller base. We’re trying to democratise the opportunity for everyone. We have launched the store shop front on the Flipkart app, with all the merchandise from the five partners. 

You said this is aligned with the government’s effort to generate jobs.

Through the five partners that we have already onboarded, we are already connected to 30,000 artisans. We are in talks with many, many more as we scale this further. These 30,000 sellers will create a few million jobs. 

What parameters will you use to track the success of the programme?

This is not a driver of metrics or financials for us. The more people who get on the platform, the more empowered they get, and the more they sell. 

Is there an investment number for the training you are putting into this?

We have invested a huge amount in the last several years. It is a meaningful number. Most of it is on technology and supply chain and both of these will help Samarth. 

Do you plan to take this global?

At this point in time, no. The Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur wanted us to think about it. Right now, it is only in India. 

Will this initiative help you get more hyperlocal?

The concept of e-commerce is democracy. E-commerce, in general, is not a hyperlocal concept. There are some categories and businesses in e-commerce which are more hyperlocal friendly — groceries, televisions, appliances. So the customer value proposition is if you live in Delhi, how do we get you a good selection from Tirupur, Durgapur, or Surat? We’re not going to push any kind of artificial hyperlocal (through Samarth). That is not how we think about e-commerce.

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