Casual users of Flipkart’s website could be forgiven for not noticing the e-commerce giant’s loyalty programme. To be fair, the programme, Flipkart Plus, is given prime real estate—appearing just below the company logo. However, it’s easy to miss given the array of categories and products that occupy the vast majority of the screen and draw eyeballs more readily.

Despite this discrepancy, Flipkart is more bullish than ever about the programme and its importance to the platform moving forward. During Walmart’s earnings call in February, Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy announced that 2021 would be a big year for Flipkart Plus. It was even mentioned ahead of groceries—a category that has gained prominence since Walmart’s acquisition of the platform in 2018, and which the company is pushing heavily this year.

Flipkart Plus, which is a very uniquely local loyalty programme, is one very big priority. Second, grocery as a category is something where we want to strengthen our value proposition, especially partnering with the roughly million kirana partners we already have in our ecosystem,” said Krishnamurthy.

The import with which Flipkart views the programme has only grown since the introduction of Amazon Prime, its arch-rival’s own loyalty offering. An annual subscription, Prime offers customers free and fast shipping as well as access to Amazon’s multimedia streaming services. In addition, Prime users also gain early access to Amazon’s annual flagship sale, Prime Day. As of August 2020, Prime was estimated to have 10 million users in the country. According to a report from data research firm Kalagato, on average an Amazon customer orders 30% more frequently than a Flipkart customer in 2020.

Unlike a Prime subscription, though, one doesn’t simply buy Flipkart Plus. Instead, it is an earned loyalty programme. Every Rs 100 ($1.3) spent on Flipkart earns users two Supercoins—the central element of the scheme. Once you accumulate 200 Supercoins, you qualify as a Plus member, availing Prime-like benefits. “You earn more Supercoins as you make more purchases, and then it would be redeemable to get more discounts and so on,” explained a former Flipkart executive. Supercoins can even be redeemed at a number of offline partners—including apparel brands like Woodlands and Allen Solly—across the country.

Flipkart Plus has undergone many iterations over the years. In its current avatar, the company told The Ken that the programme has racked up 20 million Plus customers—twice the Prime user base—and these members account for 30% of its monthly active user base. According to the company, Plus members transact 5X more and spend 7X more than the rest of the user base. With a billion Supercoins issued each month, Flipkart believes that Plus is one of the most successful loyalty programmes in the country.

Apart from keeping Amazon in check, Plus is key to dispelling the perception that Flipkart is more of a bargain-hunting platform, attracting users for one-off deals rather than repeat purchases.

AUTHOR

Pranav Balakrishnan

Pranav writes about the business of moving people and things around, i.e, mobility and e-commerce. Over the past two years, he has written about Ola, Tesla, Flipkart, Amazon, and the increasing role played by Reliance Industries in the Indian technology story. Pranav joined The Ken from Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, specialising in business journalism.

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