Flipkart.com, the highly popular online bookstore which only recently started selling mobiles and other electronic products as well, has taken a step back towards bolstering its native strength – digital retail of books – by acquiring the literary social network, weRead. In a space which is shared by only a few other players (InfiBeam and Landmark, for example), Flipkart quickly established themselves as the leaders in India through an aggressive discount policy, coupled with excellent customer service, which is evidenced by the company’s Twitter feed.
On the other hand, weRead has a network of three million readers and 60 million books, and captures user-generated information such as who within one’s social network has marked a book as a favourite, detailed reviews and user ratings of books. The weRead application is available across all popular social network sites such as Facebook, Orkut, Yahoo, MySpace and Hi5. The weRead component will make buying online at Flipkart a heightened social experience, the company hopes. Owing to its community-driven, independent nature, weRead will retain its own brand identity even after the purchase by Flipkart.
Sachin Bansal, CEO, Flipkart, said, “This is a step towards providing the best possible experience to our customers. The acquisition means that our relationship with the customer changes, and we are now their partners in the entire reading experience – right from purchase to referrals. This will enable us to suggest the most relevant books to our readers, based on a combination of social pointers from their friends, and also the previous purchases they have already made.”
He went on to add, “At Flipkart, all our growth till now has been organic in nature. However, to deliver the best in class service to our customers, we have started to look at acquisitions that will complement our current service offerings. weRead is one such step in this direction.”
According to the spokesperson at weRead, “Lulu (the parent company) is pleased to have completed the successful sale of weRead.com to Flipkart. We believe weRead users will be well served by the team at Flipkart.”
Flipkart has grown by nearly ten times in the last one year, and is expected to touch revenues of Rs 100 crore by March 2011. The startup has been called the ‘Amazon of India’, and its success can be linked to a number of factors, such as the fact that it quickly integrated to Indian conditions, allowing CoD transactions and having extensive phone services for customer support, so that the online company is also present offline.