School & Student Supplies market continues to expand; Flipkart also enters the segment

Following the recent investment in All School Stuff.Com, Flipkart has also entered the market for school and student supplies. The company recently added the category under its, “New on Flipkart” tab and has added products catering to school and student supplies. Flipkart is one of India’s largest player in the online retail market and has a horizontal business model with a presence across multiple categories including, among others, books, digital music, electronics, and now school supplies.

Currently, the school & student supplies market in India stands at over $4 billion but is largely unorganised and purchases mainly happen through mom-and-pop stores located in markets and localities. However, with the advent of large retailers such as Landmark and Reliance Timeout, the share of the organised segment has risen, albeit by a small fraction. This is primarily due to the limited reach of such large format retailers who can only be present in as many locations and towns and also due to the fragmented nature of the supply chain in Tier-II and III cities.

The situation has been remedied with the launch of online stores such as AllSchoolStuff.Com which has a pan-India reach through its delivery network and can reach out to potential buyers through the online retail format. With the increased traction in the market over the past one year, many start-ups have entered the market and other niche portals such as FirstCry.Com have also started catering to this segment.

Talking about the impact of this move from Flipkart on a niche player such as AllSchoolStuff,  Manoj Chandra, CEO of All School Stuff.com, added “We welcome the entry of other ecommerce players into this unique yet so large market opportunity, which we identified and established as an online space in India. AllSchoolStuff.com is India’s first and presently the largest school and educational supply online store and within few months since our inception we have gained thousands of loyal customers from across 28 states of India. This clearly show the potential in this category and how fast consumers will adopt online in this space. Entry of other players is good as it grows awareness and attracts more customers to try out the category online thereby increasing the size of the market”. AllSchoolStuff has been in this category for just over 6 months and has already experienced increasing traction on their Facebook and online store with over 5x growth month-on-month.

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In terms of consumer demand, the school supplies segment is cyclical with intermittent periods of high demand in new session season for schools during March-June followed by steady demand from consumers through the rest of the year. The market will receive a further push with increased institutional demand from schools and educational institutions across India over the coming years and polished and structured offerings from companies. The growing needs of advance learning and new age education tools and techniques can also play a contributing role in increasing the potential of this category.

According to a recent report by Anand Rathi Research, the Indian education sector is among the 10th largest in the world at over $100 billion and is set to expand further on the back of rising spends on education in urban and semi-urban areas as well as improvements in infrastructure and logistics network. This will create large opportunities for online retailers to sell their goods and supplies to the entire country without the restriction of being present physically in every city and locality.

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