Like many who were intrigued by the wonders of online retail, for online seller Ravi Chopra, it was pretty much the same.
“Doing business online always interested us, since 2011. That is why we launched www.koolcart.com. We ran a computers and accessories retail business online through our own webstore,” says Ravi.
But the early challenges of online retail made the road to success a slippery slope for Ravi and his colleagues.
He revisits the troubles he faced with his own online selling portal 4 years ago saying, “At the time we had to deal with challenges that were new to us, like:
- finding the right logistic requirements
- managing cash on delivery
- and other similar troubles
In spite of all this, we still managed to receive orders through our site. Another issue we had to deal with was competition from big ecommerce companies like Snapdeal, Flipkart and Amazon.”
So, instead of fighting against the tide, Ravi joined the competition by registering on their platforms and selling his wares on online marketplaces. This move gave his business a boost in terms of sales and that’s how the electronics seller got hooked onto selling on marketplaces.
But his trouble with etailers didn’t end there! Ravi informs us in an IOS exclusive that his nightmare with logistics grew worse while selling on Flipkart.
It all began with a webstore!
The pieces simply fell into place for Ravi when online retail was picking up.
He says, “I am from Delhi and I had knowledge and experience in the wholesale market. So, acquiring product supply was no issue. Also, I am an IT professional with knowledge of website building and other IT specifics, so creating www.koolcart.com wasn’t difficult.”
The inevitable approach to online marketplaces
“We first started on Amazon.in and currently it is the only marketplace we are doing business with,” Ravi mentions.
He adds that he sold on Snapdeal, Paytm, Shopclues and Flipkart too. Out of all the marketplaces he sold on, selling on Flipkart was the worst. This was due to issues with its logistics division at Lawrence Road Hub.
What was the experience on Flipkart like?
Ravi’s seller story is unique in a way. He gave the marketplace Flipkart, three attempts and all three times proved to be utter failures for the very same reasons.
“We started out on Flipkart in January 2015. And since then we left the marketplace 3 times. When we began selling with the etailer we would receive around 20 orders every day during the peak season,” says Ravi
However, things changed for the online seller from Delhi, after April 2015.
“This is when we began to struggle, it continued until May 2015. Then we stopped selling on the marketplace all together,” Ravi shares.
“In November 2015, we began selling with the marketplace once more. But we left again due to poor quality services by the online retailer,” he discloses.
A little while later, the seller decided to give the marketplace another shot. He joined just before Diwali. But alas, his journey on the marketplace ended the same way!
What was the issue that called for quitting Flipkart 3 times in a row?
“Poor logistics services! This led us to leave the online marketplace three times. It was a recurring issue for us on the portal,” the Flipkart veteran reveals.
Ravi explains that the logistics problem all began in April 2015. Ekart logistics would come around to pick up orders and the manifest would be signed too. But, the pickups would never get updated on Flipkart’s seller panel.
“These orders would then show as pickup reattempts. This means the seller has not handed over the ordered product to the logistics persons. And, within 3 days our orders would show as cancelled from the seller’s end. As a result, we were charged by the marketplace for cancellations,” he informs us.
Apart from this Ravi mentions that sometimes even his products were blocked by the marketplace due to this recurring problem.
What was the course of action taken before quitting?
Initially, Ravi says he opened a case with Flipkart Seller Support.
He states, “It was quite similar to approaching a government front desk where you get no useful answer. The only response we would receive was, ‘you have not handed over the order’. This was even though we gave them a signed manifest.”
The next course of action involved going to Flipkart’s Lawrence Road Hub. There, Ravi met the hub supervisor. The supervisor claimed he knew nothing about this issue being facing and no order of the description provided was found. As a result, the given products were deemed lost. When the pickup person was questioned he simply stated that whatever was picked from the seller was delivered to the hub.
“The supervisor we met with asked us to wait awhile till they looked for our products. Even Flipkart’s Seller Support was engaged, but no one had any idea where our products were going. To us, it seemed very clear that the officials at Flipkart were stealing the shipments!” Ravi exclaims.
This issue continued on and four of Ravi’s products were blocked on the marketplace on account of seller cancellations. That’s when he made the call of quitting the online marketplace for good.
Were there other issues in this regard? There certainly were!
Issue 1 – Fire at the pickup hub
Missing orders was a common issue for multiple Flipkart sellers who’s pickups persons came from the Lawrence Road Hub.
“The Lawrence Hub created an all new drama of a fire at their hub. This was just to clear the backlog there. Along with other sellers facing the same issue, we wrote multiple emails to Sachin Bansal. This is when they began to take us seriously and started reimbursing us for our losses,” Ravi recalls.
Issue 2 – Orders never picked up
Once he got back on board Flipkart for the second time, the issue of order cancellations (from the seller’s end) recurred all over again. This time it was because the pickup boy would not show up at all for pickups.
Ravi informs us, “I wrote to the CEO of the company again because no one would listen. I also proved that the pickup boy never came. To this, they said action will be taken but the issue continued still.”
Issue 3 – Refusal to flex pickup timing
When Ravi rejoined Flipkart for the third time before Diwali this year, he claims the pickup boy came to collect his products for shipping. But, since his place of business was closed, the order wasn’t picked up.
He mentions, “We start work at 12.30 pm and the pickup boy came at 12 pm. We were called and informed that the shop was closed and that the pickup could not be completed. This had never happened before and later on the pickup person stopped coming altogether. Again, I opened a case with Seller Support. They said the shop was closed. So, I asked them why they hadn’t called to inform me they were on their way. I managed to get the supervisor’s number. He told me if your shop is closed then we won’t wait or call. This is as per Flipkart policy! I reasoned that the pickup time is until 2 pm. So, he said it depends on the route the pickup person takes. But my point was, he could have called!”
Issue 4 – No space on pickup vehicle
On some days the pickup never happened because the pickup person didn’t have space on his vehicle. And, even though this is a Flipkart issue Ravi states that he, the seller, was held accountable for the failed pickup attempt.
He says, “It’s clear that Ekart works on its own conditions. There is complete miscommunication between them and the seller and that is why I no longer want to work with Flipkart.”
Did these issues occur on other marketplaces as well?
At the start, Ravi worked on five online marketplaces. Now he sells on just one, that is, Amazon. When we asked him what happened with the rest he informs us that Snapdeal and Paytm gave him the same kind of trouble Flipkart did. His orders were pending pickups for so long that he began to face cancellation crisis all over again.
What should the ideal logistics system offer online sellers?
In the seller’s opinion, online marketplaces should replicate Amazon’s professionalism.
“They have two slots and real-time tracking,” he says, “The pickup boy works on a timeframe that allows quick and sure order pickups. As soon as the pickup is completed it is mentioned on the portal.”
For almost two years Ravi has been working with Amazon. He says till date he hasn’t faced issues with the portal. He even praises their return mechanism, an area that most sellers dread.
Fourth time’s the charm?
Three failed attempts on Flipkart have left Ravi feeling disappointed with the etailer. But we couldn’t help but wonder if he’d ever consider going back. So when we asked he his response was,
“It was a headache selling on Flipkart. Its logistics provider Ekart, is very bad for sure. Especially, at the Lawrence Road Hub! We have seen no sign of improvement there. I’m done with Flipkart now!”
He continues by saying it was a good move leaving Flipkart because he only faced:
- Losses due to incorrect charges
- Difficulties in making claims
- High returns
- Persistent order cancellations
“We do everything on our end to ensure speedy deliveries. Our goal is to make sure the pickup is completed on the same day when the order was placed,” Ravi says.
Advice to other Flipkart sellers from Ravi Chopra
If you sell on Flipkart, Ravi claims that you will need to maintain extra resources in terms of manpower. Right from the attempted pickup till after the payment is made to your account, you will need to engage in continuous follow-ups. Flipkart’s logistics charges are very high as it is and this makes things more expensive for you as a seller.
Have you faced multiple Flipkart order cancellations for the same reasons? How did you deal with the situation? We’d like to know about your experiences through the comments section below.