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Flipkart launches private label MarQ for large appliances category

LiveMint logoLiveMint 04-10-2017 Anirban Sen

Bengaluru: India’s largest e-commerce firm Flipkart has launched a new private label brand for its key large appliances category, amid a broader internal push from chief executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy to build out a new billion-dollar business from private labels and simultaneously improve margins.

The new brand called MarQ comes at a time when Flipkart is looking to reduce its dependence on the smartphone business and cement its position at the top of Indian e-commerce, after winning the Diwali festive sale battle against arch-rival Amazon India.

In an interview, Flipkart’s head of private labels Adarsh Menon said that large appliances under the new brand would be priced “at least 15-20%” lower than other leading brands. Top large-appliance brands on Flipkart currently include the likes of Samsung, Whirlpool, Panasonic and LG.

“What the brand stands for is better, possible, today—the vision of the brand is to create cutting-edge technology and high-quality products at very affordable prices for customers,” said Menon, a vice-president at Flipkart. “The brand will play across a full range of large appliances, starting with microwave ovens, then we’ll have televisions, followed by other white-good products such as washing machines and air conditioners, which will come later.”

Menon said Flipkart is not looking to launch a private label in its flagship smartphone business, which contributes well over 60% of the online retailer’s gross monthly and annual sales. He added that Flipkart would also aggressively grow out its newly-launched private label brand in the furniture category called Perfect Homes.

“What we’ve also done is tied up with the best factories in the world to manufacture these products. So, the factory that we’ve partnered up with to bring microwave ovens to the platform is the world’s largest microwave oven factory. The laboratory that we will work with is also best in class because this is a large appliance and consumer durable. This is a very high-involvement purchase, the specs are extremely important, the usage is typically 5-10 years—so, cutting edge technology and product durability is very important, which is why we’ve partnered with these factories ,” said Menon.

Menon said that Flipkart-owned Jeeves, which provides maintenance, repairs, product guarantees and other services, will take care of installations and after-sales service for MarQ.

Flipkart will also expand its private label push to 72 categories over the next few months, Menon said. So far, Flipkart has launched private labels in at least 35 categories.

Last year in December, Flipkart launched its first private label business under the umbrella brand called Flipkart SmartBuy, as part of a push to improve margins. Since then Flipkart has launched at least four other private label brands, including Divastri in the fashion category. Separately, Flipkart founder and chairman Sachin Bansal also separately created a new private label business called Billion.

“The biggest expansion will happen at Flipkart SmartBuy—we will get into a lot of areas through SmartBuy. We will get into at least 40 other categories over the next few months,” said Menon.

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