Walmart-owned Flipkart, India’s largest online store for
everything from clothing to electronics to furniture, is going deeper into
travel in a partnership with Ixigo that is intended to grow the online travel
market in India’s tier two, three and four cities.
Ixigo now handles services for domestic and international flight
bookings through Flipkart’s mobile apps and mobile website, with plans to offer
it on desktop soon.
“This is a bit of a landmark deal for us. On Flipkart we are
offering a full OTA experience,” says Aloke Bajpai, co-founder and CEO of Ixigo.
“Ixigo’s business model earlier was a marketplace whereby we
worked with several online travel agency and airline partners and allowed
customers to compare and book across all of them. Here we are more natively
bookable, so it’s more of an OTA experience then a meta or marketplace
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As part of the deal, Flipkart is also enabling its users –
currently numbering 160 million - to pay for flights by redeeming their “SuperCoins,”
the platform’s rewards currency that users earn with each transaction.
Bajpai says this all ties to Flipkart’s evolution as a
closed ecosystem, a “super app,” that enables a seamless experience for any
type of purchase to drive trust and loyalty – particularly valuable for the people
new to buying online.
is the next billion users we are talking about, who have not probably been
exposed to a lot of the taken-for-granted digital commerce modes of operation that
exist in the Western world. So for them, the first brand they trust to transact
with becomes a port of call for everything they want to do next,” Bajpai says.
us, it’s a distribution deal where we get to be very natively inside the Flipkart
experience in a co-branded fashion and hence we are discoverable where the customer
is already using an app and is inside a closed ecosystem. And if he needs
travel services, we are already placed there.”
In April 2018, Flipkart announced a partnership with
MakeMyTrip to offer travel services, starting with domestic flight bookings. Neither
Flipkart nor MakeMyTrip responded to inquiries about the current status of that
But Flipkart does say it has “seen a 10X growth since we
ventured into the travel category in a limited manner last year” and now it aims
to serve “the next 200 million customers,” who are coming online thanks to
greater penetration of internet services and development of airports around the
“Limited reach of brick-and-mortar travel outlets in smaller
cities provides an opportunity for Flipkart. Over the past one year, Flipkart
has witnessed more than 50 million searches for travel alone on its platform,
with close to 50% of those queries from tier two and three cities. This presents a
vast opportunity to solve for these consumers in a meaningful way, by building
an ecosystem of services that can make their experience better,” Flipkart says
in a statement via email.
Ixigo is known for the depth of its service in rail transportation,
and Bajpai says while the Flipkart partnership is starting with flights, “other verticals are
Flipkart says it will also look to add bus and hotel bookings.
truly become a one-stop-shop for consumers in online travel space, we will
definitely look at serving our customers a wide spread of quality hotels to
choose from and drive growth in online booking of hotels.," Flipkart says.
In May, Flipkart competitor Amazon launched flight bookings in India in partnership with Cleartrip.