Flipkart, India’s leading e-commerce marketplace, is aiming to further strengthen its travel offering by introducing an enhanced native experience in partnership with ixigo, India’s most popular mobile travel platform. This follows moves by its competitor Amazon to launch its own flight bookings offering in India in partnership with Cleartrip.
The partnership sees ixigo mature its own activity from what was a marketplace for online travel agencies and airline partners into more of a full OTA experience in the form of a closed ecosystem for Flipkart as the latter seeks to drive further trust and loyalty.
As part of the deal, Flipkart is enabling its users – currently numbering around 160 million – to pay for flights by redeeming their “SuperCoins,” the platform’s rewards currency that users earn with each transaction. Essentially, rewards from being clothing, furniture, the latest electronics can be used to purchase future flights.
Air travel is growing rapidly across Tier II cities, owing to the government’s ambitious UDAN initiative. Over the past one year, Flipkart says it has witnessed more than 50 million searches for travel alone on its platform, with close to 50% of those queries from Tier II and III 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. As more people gain access to air travel facilities, it is important that they are given the right platform to make the best choices,” it says.
Flipkart’s latest travel offering covers the entire spectrum of airlines globally, while enabling users to book flight tickets for all domestic and international routes. It has designed its travel interface with Tier II & III city customers in mind, and is targeting new customers from these markets who currently primarily use offline options to book their travel.
“We have seen a 10X growth since we ventured into the travel category in a limited manner last year,” says Prakash Sikaria, vice president, growth & monetisation at Flipkart. “Air travel is a growing category online, especially across Tier II cities.”
Flipkart’s native travel experience is now available to all customers on the Flipkart mobile app, on both Android and iOS operating platforms and is expected to be rolled-out on desktop in the future. It is currently support flight searches, but with ixigo holding a strong position in the rail transportation market, it may also be expanded into that sector, and perhaps for bus and hotel bookings too.loyalty