People That Make Us – V. V. K. Chandra

Contrary to what the title might suggest, this is not about anyone at Flipkart.

Taking a leap of faith online is not as hard as it looks but is much harder than you think. Our brains are hardwired for the senses – see; smell; feel; touch; taste. The main challenge of a Click-’n-Mortar store is bringing credibility to anonymity. We certainly didn’t have that way-back-when, which is why we owe a lot to quite a few people – one of them being Mr. Chandra.

Mr. Chandra is the FIRST EVER customer that Flipkart had (the rest were mostly family, friends, friends of family and families of friends) and also subsequently went on to interview Flipkart. There is no way we can quantify what that post did for us – nay – continues to do for us. At the most basic level, it validated the feedback trust loop that Sachin and Binny had put all their hopes on. Here is a guy who having logged on to Flipkart has:

a> Found what he wanted
b> Taken out his card
c> Made an online payment on a site no one knew of
d> And waited for his book to be delivered

Here is a good time for me to make a declaration: I had not yet joined Flipkart. True, I have no idea what any of them were thinking at the time or what the motivations were that lead to this momentous “first real sale”. Of one other thing I can be fairly certain – the Bansals thinking “We have a customer afterall, let’s not make a mess now!!”

It’s been over a year since that day, a lot has changed and we’re making fewer mistakes now. Many more trust us, and of large number of those that do stay very loyal. We probably do let some of them down, and not just the first timers either – I just hope that these isolated incidents do not reinforce the mental blocks people have with e-commerce in India.

If there’s one takeaway I can garner, it’s this: Be grateful to the VVK Chandras in your life – and every once in a while – try being one yourself.

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6 Comments

  1. Posted April 27, 2009 at 20:27 | Permalink

    frankly, I was a bit confused to see the title of the post as I got the pingback on my blog…

    Flipkart really continues to deliver from the day one I had used… I have made quite a number of orders and was almost satisfied with every order…

    I have told many of my friends and they actually are using your service. What I like the most is – almost every time I get the book very next day if I order it before noon.

    actually, I came to know about flipkart through a comment left by one of the Bansals on my previous blog. At that exact time, I was desperately looking to buy this book, http://leavingmicrosoftbook.com/ , and miraculously I found the book on flipkart. That book was very difficult to find elsewhere.

    Really, I never knew my order meant so much. It makes me happy now to read this post. As a web developer and designer myself, I was impressed with the usability and UI of the website at the very first visit. That was one of the reasons I trusted the site. If the UI was crap, probably I would not have made the order and that means all the subsequent orders too from me and from the people I have referred. I think this is the key take away for any new e-commerce start-ups reading this post. Make sure the UI is simple, elegant and easy to use.

    I never knew anyone at flipkart before making my first order. I know there will be few people who are not satisfied with your service and that always is the case with any business. We make few mistakes in the process of learning and we lose few customers. Even I was not satisfied with one particular order but you guys quickly replaced the book.

    guys, its really good to see this kind of stuff written… I would have delighted the same way even if you have written about someone else… really I myself know what it means to get the contract/trust from the customers and the joy we get in selling the stuff to the first customer…

    all the best and keep up the good work!

  2. Posted May 12, 2009 at 08:52 | Permalink

    It would have been exciting to see the first order coming through!! I’m a big fan of flipkart and have been “evengelizing” the site to my friends. I like the UI – it is simple to use and I also like the fast shipping. Keep it up guys!

  3. Ananya
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 17:35 | Permalink

    it seem s that u people are working for them

  4. Posted February 11, 2010 at 12:11 | Permalink

    That’s fantastic, Mr Chandra. Good on you.
    Only a year for Flipkart, eh? Well done, lads. *impressed*

    I will now sign off in the customary publication manner:
    Your loyal customer, today and always (Unless I get a way better deal elsewhere:)

  5. Random Dude 2
    Posted March 20, 2010 at 12:02 | Permalink

    Mr Chandra,
    You seriously want me to believe that Flipkart site is the most user friendly with great UI.
    Are you kidding!

    Tapas ,
    Having sales below your costs would be good for customer acquisition but you cannot drag books as a loss leader and then move to other areas to gain the margins. Indian customers are still price sensitive and you should know it from your facebook posts.

    When the biggest bookstore on the Earth enters the market in mid 2012, you will be at loss with your pricing strategy. We are watching you closely!

  6. Posted February 4, 2012 at 04:52 | Permalink

    While i start your RSS feed the idea tosses way up a bunch of weird text message, could be the problem on my own readers?

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