The Big Read

Shopify wants a piece of India’s burgeoning e-commerce market. So does everybody else

A delivery person for e-commerce platform Flipkart, now owned by Walmart, delivers a package in Bengaluru, India in October 2016.
A delivery person for e-commerce platform Flipkart, now owned by Walmart, delivers a package in Bengaluru, India in October 2016. Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Fleck sells brass and stoneware dinnerware, cutlery and houseware to India’s urban online shopper. “We wanted to bring a modern aesthetic, while not letting go of the Indian charm,” says co-owner Nishant Chauhan. He and wife Shruti source products from Jaipur and Moradabad in the north and Mysore in the south and, since mid-2019, they have sold them via their Shopify store. 

The Chauhans aren’t alone. The Ottawa-based e-commerce firm has been expanding its Indian presence over the last three years, hiring staff and localizing features for merchants in the country. It’s far from the only foreign giant drawn to the subcontinent’s swelling consumer market, however. Amazon, Facebook, and Google are pouring billions into India, doing deals with domestic conglomerates to access their infrastructure and existing clientele. 

Along with some of the biggest names in tech—and India’s largest company, itself in the middle of a huge retail push—Shopify is trying to make inroads in a market where shoppers’ habits favour major online marketplaces and small, local brick-and-mortar stores. Its success will depend on consumers buying more from direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands like Fleck.

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