[Update] I'm a Flipkart First Member - But I'll be shopping at Amazon now

The background

I've been shopping at Amazon since 8 years now; long before Amazon India started. I travel often to the Bay Area and I've picked up brilliant things at their US site.

So, when Amazon came to India, I was ecstatic. But yet I continued to do a majority of my shopping on Flipkart.

I actually wanted to nudge myself to use Flipkart more often; so I even signed up for their Flipkart First program. Primarily since, I knew that Amazon had the resources to survive anyway and Flipkart seemed like one of the few firms capable of providing a healthy competition. Their UI was great, logistics seemed well taken care of and I was often amazed as to how well put together the whole thing was. So, I've bought things at Flipkart even when they were available for lesser at Amazon.

With e-commerce accounting to less than 4% of India's retail market, there was a lot of scope for anyone capable to grow and prosper. And as a consumer, I wanted both Amazon & Flipkart to thrive.
I care very little about platforms like SnapDeal. I've given up on them. Quite a few of my colleagues & friends have too.

But, two things in the recent past have ticked me off about Flipkart.

So what changed? 

For one, and this is a lesser concern of the two - for some reason, lately everything I want to purchase is available for lesser at Amazon. Amazon is indeed keen to increase market share and this tactic has worked for many platforms in the past. But Flipkart should see, that while consumers like me don't mind paying higher prices occasionally, they won't be willing to do so every time. It just kills your spirit a bit; one purchase at a time. 

Secondly, and also the bigger of concerns, is that of privacy. A distant relative came home a few weeks ago and his new flatmate was an intern at Flipkart. The intern, besides bragging about the fact that he had access to all the personal information and shopping history of any consumer at Flipkart, also invited my relative to have a go and explore the database. All the intern said he needed, was a name or an email ID. 

And together, they spent quality time looking up data on whosoever they wished to. This relative had only moved to Bangalore a couple of months ago. The intern, had been working there longer. I'm sure more such invitations to explore, have been passed. It'd be surprising if there weren't any.

Besides finding this creepy, this also seemed to definitely violate whatever idea of privacy I hold. 

Wherever there's data there's a concern of data privacy. Someone or some team will surely have a higher degree of access to our personal data than some other. So what firms need to do is sensitise their employees on what this privilege brings. If an intern is bragging about his privileges and able to comfortably abuse those, there's something definitely wrong with Flipkart's Training and Data policies.

What this basically means is, I'm out. 

Hello Amazon.

[Update] After raising this issue to their grievance officer, I received a call from someone who stated to be the social media manager for Flipkart. She acknowledged that such access exists. I explained to her why this indeed was a big deal. She then went on to express equally grave concern about the issue and promised to escalate it and keep me posted closely.

That was in February and that was the last I heard from them. So as promised, I haven't purchased a single item from Flipkart since. It's goodbye for good.

• • •