India's largest consumer e-commerce platform Flipkart has launched its annual subscription service called 'Flipkart First' for its customers who wish to get exclusive benefits and have access to priority service, at Rs 500 per year. Under the new scheme, subscribers will get access to a bouquet of benefits, including free shipping on orders with no minimum purchase price, discounted same-day delivery at just Rs 70 per item, free in-a-day delivery, besides 24x7 priority customer service.
The company says it is adding more benefits to the new scheme, which will be announced soon. Currently, certain benefits such as free in-a-day guarantee delivery and discounted same-day guarantee delivery are applicable only on products purchased from Flipkart's in-house vendor WS Retail.
One can use net banking, credit/debit card, and Payzippy payment options to purchase the subscription service. However, cash on delivery, e-gift voucher and wallet cannot be used to purchase it. Users can cancel the subscription at any point during the one-year term.
Flipkart First Vs Amazon Prime
In comparison, world's largest e-commerce company Amazon.com Inc. has already been running (since 2005) an annual subscription service called Amazon Prime even before Flipkart took birth. The service is currently available in the US, Japan, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Canada. It is not immediately clear if the service will be extended to India, a key target market for the firm. Given the huge size of the market and going by its interests in India, it is highly likely that Amazon could launch the service anytime soon.
Unlike Flipkart, Amazon offers a slew of offers targeting various customer communities under Prime subscription. In addition to certain benefits like free two-day shipping on all eligible purchases and discounted one-day shipping rates at $99 per year, users also get unlimited, ad-free access to over a million songs and instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows. Subscribers are also eligible to read free books each month through Kindle First.
In contrast, Flipkart First is basically aimed at easing the logistics services (which has been a pain for most e-commerce companies in India), as against the wider bouquet offered by Amazon Prime. The Indian company is reportedly close to launching a new brand of tablets, which will be sold under DigiFlip, its private label for electronics. Taking a cue from Amazon's Kindle First, Flipkart could also offer the tablets with free e-books under Flipkart First.