Flipkart taps into India’s ‘underserved’ urban poor; partners with government to attract sellers

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Updated: December 30, 2019 7:09:44 PM

Flipkart claims more than 200 million customers with over 150 million products across more than 80 categories competing with Jeff Bezos’ Amazon and soon Mukesh Ambani's Reliance as well.

Flipkart on Monday signed an MoU with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to collaborate with state missions. (Image: Bloomberg)

Walmart-owned Flipkart has tied up with the government’s poverty alleviation programme — Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) to train and support local artisans, craft makers from the “underserved sections of society,” the company said, and bring them on-board the e-commerce channel. Flipkart is also actively engaging with different state governments such as Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Punjab etc through its Samarth programme to help artisans and small businesses sell online across India and add to its seller count. Flipkart claims more than 200 million customers with over 150 million products across more than 80 categories competing with Jeff Bezos’ Amazon that is also looking to engage with such artisans and small businesses.

Flipkart on Monday signed an MoU with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to collaborate with state missions under the DAY-NULM to set-up the Samarth programme in 22 states in India, the company said in a statement. Flipkart and the state missions will offer market access, training and support to self-help groups including local artisans, weavers and crafts producers, and producers of raw and organic food items. The programme will also offer Incubation to help sellers with cataloguing support, account management support etc.

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NULM was launched in 2013 for “organizing urban poor in their strong grassroots level institutions, creating opportunities for skill development leading to market-based employment and helping them to set up self-employment venture,” according to the Ministry’s portal. The partnership with Flipkart will help in “capacity building of women entrepreneurs in skills of branding, digital marketing and financial management in addition to providing access to a wider customer base,” said Sanjay Kumar, Joint Secretary and Mission Director, DAY-NULM, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. “With every artisan or MSME we onboard on Flipkart, e-commerce becomes more inclusive for Indians,” said Rajneesh Kumar, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Flipkart Group.

Amazon had also tied up with the government of Telangana, Punjab and UP’s Khadi and Village Industries Board, Maharashtra State Handlooms Corporation etc to help SMEs sell online and to other markets of Amazon. Rising smartphone penetration and affordable data have fueled the growth of India’s e-commerce market that is likely to grow from $38.5 billion in 2017 to a whopping $200 billion in 2026, according to IBEF.

With the impending foray of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance in e-commerce in 2020 — thanks to the vast Jio user base of around 350 million users and retail penetration with over 10,000 Reliance Retail stores across India — the e-commerce battle is set to turn hyper-competitive that might drive heavy discounts again. “Reliance has an ecosystem of entertainment, financial services, payment gateway, etc. Once it has customers hooked on to these services, then it is a question of time before it can start offering merchandise as well,” Arvind Singhal, chairman and managing director at retail consultancy firm Technopak told Financial Express Online earlier.

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