Currently, FlipKart has over 1 lakh books available in the store, and their USP lies in the focus on site usability and support. The entire book selection/payment process is a breeze and intuitive enough to understand what you are doing (unlike stores from rediff/sify)
Books are available at ~ 15-20% discounted rate and FlipKart doesn’t charges shipping fee or tax to the customers. FlipKart’s current model is based on partnership with local book vendors who keep updating the inventory.
In my opinion, this is a great start by Sachin and the team and they have done a good job of keeping the site neat and intuitive.
Vertical ecommerce store will thrive in India and apart from FlipKart, another example is books.yulop.com – which is doing really well after tying up with Kannada publishers.
E-commerce, in India is still a “need based” phenomena and vertical stores like books are for extreme user bases : at one end you have price sensitive customers (who will jump @ 20% discount number, but will still check out several other places, including the roadside piracy shops); and at the other end, experiential shoppers who do not care about big discounts, but is more interested in “trying out” interesting books.
FlipKart’s success will be dependent on how quickly they can get their customers to click on the pay button, i.e. before they abandon the shopping cart (one of the challenges Amazon’s online store faced initially was that customers will look at the discounted price in the site and then they would go to Barnes & Nobles to buy the book!);
FlipKart, in my opinion needs to add lot more juice to keep the eye balls rolling – maybe by adding “related books” or a recommender engine, or elements of community interactivity.