Flipkart enters men's footwear category; takes on Jabong, Yebhi and others

29 Oct, 2012

India's largest e-commerce firm Flipkart is at it again. The company has been expanding its product basket in a frenetic pace and the latest addition to its product portfolio is a footwear section. This comes within ten days of introducing 'sports & fitness' category.

As of now, we could see 988 SKUs on offer across sections that included casual shoes, formal shoes, sports shoes, sandals & floaters and slippers & flip flops. The products can be filtered according to brand, price, size, colour and availability. The various brands available on the site included Adidas, Bata, Converse, Famozi, Hush Puppies, Lee Cooper, Puma, Red Tape, UCB and Valentino, among others.

The cheapest product we could find was Gliders flip flops for Rs 199, while the costliest one was Puma running shoes for Rs 7,999. The smallest shoe size available on the site is 6 while the largest is 12. In the footwear segment, Flipkart will have to compete with the likes of Rocket Internet's venture Jabong, Myntra (which has a few common investors with Flipkart), Yebhi, Zovi and Fashionandyou, among others. The company is already competing with these players in the apparels category.

Interestingly, similar to when the company entered the apparels segment, it has again targeted its offering only towards men. Does this mean that the company will only cater to men, or is it planning to come out with women's offerings with a bang by acquiring an existing player in the same space? We asked Flipkart the same question and are awaiting a response.

The company had completed its fourth round of funding in August this year, raising an undisclosed amount from two new investors, MIH (part of Naspers Group) and ICONIQ Capital, besides participation from existing investors Tiger Global and Accel Partners. There is a strong chance it used the funding to fuel its expansion into apparels.

In April, when the company had added pens and stationery, home appliances and perfumes to its product categories, we had asked Ravi Vora, VP, marketing at Flipkart about the company's expansion plans. At the time, he had mentioned, "Currently we offer products across 12 categories. Going forward, we will continue to expand the range of products available on Flipkart. Everything except groceries and automobiles are fair game for us."

And if we do a comparison with in terms of product portfolio, Flipkart is absent only in six categories as of now -- automotive and industrial products, jewellery, grocery, audiobooks, apps and gardening equipment. But since Vora has already mentioned that groceries and automobiles are off limits for the co, only four categories remain. So what can we expect next from Flipkart? Our bet would be on either audiobooks or jewellery.

Here's a look at how the company has been adding new product verticals/categories this year.

Feb: Flipkart launches its online digital music store called Flyte (one of the first such e-com players to do so), and claims it is India's largest legal online music store.

April: Expands into pens and stationery, home appliances and perfumes.

May: Expands its lifestyle-related product verticals by introducing health and beauty, watches, belts, bags and luggage categories.

June: Adds a toy section to its product portfolio.

July 19 : Starts offering baby care products.

July 25: Forays into private label for digital accessories such as laptop bags and camera pouches, under the brand Digiflip.

October 4: Enters apparels segment.

October 20: Adds sports & fitness products.

Flipkart had also registered two new companies in India, which were recently approved — Flipkart Payment Gateway Services Pvt Ltd was approved on August 31 and Flipkart Marketplace Pvt Ltd was approved on September 12. And if the names are any indication of the things to come, it looks like the company is all set to launch its own online marketplace business. Or is it likely to integrate the marketplace into the existing site. What would you bet on?