According to those familiar with the situation, e-commerce firm Flipkart has discreetly joined the home services market, beginning with AC repairs.
It offers the service through Jeeves, an after-sales services firm it purchased some years ago. The service is now available in Bengaluru and Kolkata, and it will be expanded to other major Indian cities shortly.
According to the sources, Flipkart's home services company would likely encompass washing machine repairs and other similar solutions in the future, spanning the product categories sold on the e-commerce platform.
This implies that Urban Company (formerly Urbanclap) has a new opponent in Flipkart after several of its contemporaries failed to gain traction and survive a fundraising slowdown in 2016-17. Urban Company has grown to become a national provider of at-home services, including beauty-related services. According to the sources, Flipkart would not join the beauty services market.
Until press time on Sunday, Flipkart had not responded to an email requesting comment.
So far, Flipkart has employed Jeeves to provide installation services to customers who purchase major equipment such as air conditioners, washing machines, or furniture from the marketplace. A consumer may now request AC servicing regardless of where it was purchased, including competitor markets.
"They (Flipkart) have been developing these skills for years and are now immediately opening out to customers." Directionally, it will be extended to the key categories where such services are required regularly," a source familiar with the situation said.
Flipkart has entered yet another new business field, joining the likes of travel and pharmacy.
While Jeeves has been a vital part of Flipkart since its purchase in 2014, the business recently stated that Jeeves will now be accessible to external companies for installation, demo, and maintenance needs. According to ET, Flipkart has also opened up its logistics subsidiary Ekart to other e-commerce enterprises for cargo delivery.
Flipkart has also been optimistic about developing Shopsy, its social commerce platform, and expanding its grocery sector. In an interview with ET in January, group CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy stated that the company will expand these operations this year.
In April, ET reported that the Walmart-owned retailer has invested more than $800 million in multiple enterprises, including Flipkart Marketplace, its new healthcare company, and fashion store Myntra, through its Singapore subsidiaries.
The home-services sector has been difficult. While lead-generation businesses JustDial and Sulekha were early movers in the field, by 2015, companies such as Urban Company and Housejoy opted to go a step further by controlling the experience as well. Around the same time, startups such as TaskBob and Doormint appeared, but they either closed down or went on to other ventures.