The day of the discount is gone. Not just is it unprofitable, but there is a legal angle to it too. The government, while clarifying that 100% Foreign Direct Investment is allowed in online retail, has also stated that the marketplaces are not to have any monetary interest in the selling. This prevents marketplaces from influencing their sellers’ prices.

Companies are therefore looking at means to build customer loyalty. Leading marketplaces are coming up with elite clubs to keep the buyer hooked. Among them, Amazon Prime, Flipkart Assured, and Snapdeal Gold are vying with each other. We thought of drawing an analysis of the basic features of all three programs.

Here are the facts on the three top customer programs in Indian ecommerce  – Amazon Prime, Flipkart Assured, and Snapdeal Gold:

Amazon Prime

Amazon launched its popular program Prime in India almost a decade after its US debut. It is a paid subscription and members are entitled to the following benefits:

The company has announced that it has tied up with film maker Karan Johar’s production house Dharma Productions for Prime Video. Prime subscribers will have exclusive streaming access to the company’s upcoming movies including ‘Ae Dil Hain Mushkil’ and others, apart from released movies such as ‘Student of the Year’.

The company launched a 60-day free trial post which a discounted rate of Rs 500 would be charged to those who wish to continue with the service.

The plus points:

Critics feel that what worked in the US market may not necessarily work with an Indian market. While free delivery is a major pull, Amazon will have to offer more features for the fee it charges. The ones offered are not good enough.

The company says this will be a good opportunity for sellers as well. Amit Agarwal, VP and head of Amazon India said upon launch, “For sellers, Fulfilment by Amazon is now an even more powerful opportunity to rapidly grow their business and at the same time, provide customers across India with vast selection and unlimited fast free Prime delivery.”

Flipkart Assured

The leading Indian ecommerce company launched its premier service F-Assured in August this year. Promoted as a primarily quality and speed assurance, the program is a direct contender for Prime. Popular and fast moving products are eligible to be included in F-Assured.

According to Flipkart, the ‘F-Assured’ badge is created based on, ‘an algorithm, developed by Flipkart data scientists, which computes key product and seller metrics along with stringent quality parameters.

Only select products from Flipkart’s most trusted and reliable sellers qualify for a badge. A product is eligible to earn the Flipkart Assured badge only if it passes extensive checks on seller and product quality as well as availability of faster shipping.’

F-Assured boasts of the following benefits:

Flipkart claims that this is a step towards its customers, and its focus is on the latter’s satisfaction.

The plus points:

Flipkart tried to launch a customer program in 2014 called Flipkart First, but it fizzled out. F-Assured holds promise, but there are roadblocks as well.

Snapdeal Gold

Snapdeal Gold is similar to F-Assured in the sense that a buyer doesn’t have to subscribe to it, nor is there any fee involved. All Snapdeal Fulfilled orders that are prepaid in any form (card, net banking, freecharge currency or Snapdeal gift card) are eligible for the following benefits:

Snapdeal has been trying to keep up with the Jones, but its struggles are far from over. Gold may be able to help the company in the long haul.

The plus points:

Tactics for the festive season

With the upcoming sale at all leading online and offline stores, speedy delivery and exchange is going to be a huge challenge. Plus, all the programs have a lot of terms and conditions attached, and the benefits offered don’t appear to be too attractive.

This also puts an added burden on the sellers. With ‘strict quality checks’, and products of only the sellers with a good track record being featured, it translates to overtime every time for small traders.

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