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Musing #42: The Amazon advantage over Flipkart

It is that time of the year again when the big online retailers jostle it out for the customer’s mind and wallet. There is no bigger test than this time of the year as Amazon and Flipkart get stretched thin in offering their best. However, this also allows for a better view on who’s on top of the game. For me, having experienced both the sides, there is no doubt who the winner is.

The reason Amazon wins is because it lives up to its vision of being earth’s most customer-centric company. I have been a Prime member since its launch but never really utilized it to the maximum since I believe most people will find value in Prime Videos which I don’t peruse much often. While ₹499 for Prime membership remains a steal, it is the customer service that makes dealing with Amazon much more satisfying. There hasn’t been a single issue that has left be unsatisfied, be it cancellations, refunds, cashbacks, compensations or claiming of warranty, which is what makes me come back to it time and again.

As you can imagine, the experience with Flipkart has been a polar opposite. They have never managed to specifically respond to any issue but mouth platitudes. There is no escalation done by the first level staff in trying to identify the root cause. In the recent sale, they took no responsibility or provided any resolution for the failure in their checkout process which was unable to handle the load, consequent to which I was unable to complete the payment for an already checked-out product. Worse still, their refund initiation is held up for hours on account of which the discount availed for a cancelled product remains blocked and unusable for other purchases. The customer service comes back to state the obvious without offering any resolution or insight.

It doesn’t take much to observe that Flipkart doesn’t really place the customer first. For me, it is a fall back option that I have to take recourse to for a few exclusives. Even then, every dealing leaves me further disillusioned. At one point, it did offer exceptional service, perhaps when it has money to burn. Now, it may just be a cost consideration but it feels that the rot is much more systemic. It is not only the customer service but the incessant failures on the technology side which indicates they are neither passionate about the customers or technology. Ultimately, that is the path to oblivion.

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