Binny Bansal the founder of flipkart.com seems to be an intelligent man going around the blog world and leaving trail for people to reach out to his portal. Smart and free way of publicizing your initiative. In the US this is a common PR practice with portals to get blogsphere interested first and then traditional media follows.
Keeping in line with Business India 2.0 blog objective to showcase new developments in Indian webspace here is a review on Flipkart.com an online book store.
For long this space has been seen by lot of VC’s looking at investment in e-commerce india. Though the volumes have not been encouraging + the tax laws of our land are not favorable. In my earlier post on Retail E-Commerce play in india i had taken a shot at online book stores and how horizontal portals are doing much better jobs moving books instead of people like firstandsecond.com
Flipkart.com comes perfectly in this space trying to get the fundamental rights which is easy to navigate comprehensive database of books to buy. The site scores high on usability though functionality is still limited keeping in mind level which bookstores have evolved in India. The search functionality needs little more work and rather than implementing a generic keyword search it need to weigh in elements of book details, book title etc. Idea is to create a relevancy score which can go up or down based on number of times a book is displayed in results and number of times it receive click based on relevant keyword.
For book portals to involve in India they need to get the book cafe concept going. Idea is to generate content around book topics which forces user to buy books on the topic. Most of the people try to get this going using user generated reviews but this is just not enough. Create a facebook application track users book liking or even better just track hot topic searches and include them as keyword or cue for people to search for books related to those topics. A tag cloud which is not dependent on input from your search keyword but global search trends or indian search trends. Idea is to entice user to find content which might be already existing in books rather than wasting time on unstructured content on Internet.
The billing process and shopping cart used by site is simple though i didnt like the EBS integration interface as for some reason it slowed down the process. Still unable to figure out why in india the payment gateways dont allow card details to be captured at merchant end and only processing information sent to payment gateway as this makes batch processing very difficult.
In the end flipkart.com is a good start or showcase for firstandsecond.com,nbcindia.com or other bookstores which went online way to understand when selling books on web how much usability can make different for increasing daily book movement volumes from 500 transactions per day to 1000 transaction.
Lets hope these web 2.0 book stores bring more to traditional online bookstores which just act as mere catalogs online.