If you visited the Flipkart website recently, you would have something highly unlikely appearing on the portal’s multiple virtual banners—an electric scooter starting at around Rs 50,000 (~US$650). Earlier in July, Bengaluru-based bike rental and electric mobility company Bounce declared that it would begin selling the scooter—named Infinity—on the e-commerce portal. It’s the first time an e-commerce firm in India is attempting to sell a vehicle online.
The risk is minimal for Flipkart. The Walmart-backed company has already set up a business development team to focus strictly on the auto sector. In fact, Flipkart is treating Bounce as a pilot project. According to people working on the partnership, Flipkart also plans to sell scooters made by Bengaluru-based EV company Ather Energy on its platform soon. And the broker for this deal? None other than Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal—one of Ather’s investors.
The partnership has been in the works for over two years, according to people aware of the developments. Bounce had worked on a project with Jeeves, Flipkart’s after-sales services arm, for large electronics in early 2020. Back then, it was exploring options in the battery space, trying to leverage its swapping network in Bangalore, and replicating that across multiple cities.
“We were wowed by their operations. Sure, things were slippery here and there, but overall it was impressive to us, as we hadn’t done any logistics earlier. We realised then that setting up last-mile delivery is a Herculean task,” said a former Bounce employee who was part of the project.
Flipkart plans to handle the last-mile delivery and logistics, with Bounce taking care of the after-sales service. Flipkart is also ensuring a “15-day fulfilment journey” on its backend and hopes to use its logistical expanse and success in selling electronics—a vital category vital category The Ken JioMart Digital: Reliance’s offline push to dethrone the online smartphone kings Read more for Flipkart as it accounts for nearly 50% of its gross merchandise value during annual festive sales.
For four-year-old Bounce, however, this is a bigger bet. The company has already gone through three rounds of layoffs in as many years. It let go 10% of its workforce as recently as 22 July, The Ken has learnt. Bounce confirmed the layoffs in an email but disputed the 10% figure.
The company has taken a wild ride in the past few years, going from an app renting out petrol scooters to manufacturing and selling electric scooters.