MUMBAI: Competition between India's online retailers is intensifying as a leading player has announced it intends to double its workforce this year.

Flipkart said it would hire an additional 12,000 people across all levels and functions, bringing the total employed by the online marketplace to 25,000. In further evidence of the company's ambitions, it has already said it would increase the number of sellers operating on the site to 12,000, spread across 30 cities, and would work with trade organisations to provide SMEs with support around data analytics, marketing and customer acquisition.

This comes after last month's news that Amazon, which only entered the Indian market a year ago, planned a major cross-platform advertising campaign to highlight its product range and unique selling propositions.

Sachin Bansal, co-founder and CEO, told Pitch that Flipkart had an edge over international rivals since it was not possible to replicate global formula in India. "The Indian ecosystem is extremely unique in the way it functions," he said, adding that as a domestic player he had "built the business on the needs of the Indian customer and market."

That has not stopped him from taking an occasional leaf out of Amazon's book, however, to offer guaranteed one-day shipping in some cities and to move into selling higher-priced items such as furniture and fridges. Its Flipkart First subscription service is also a conscious echo of Amazon Prime.

And a week after Amazon launched its Fire Phone, to sit alongside its Kindle range of e-book readers, Flipkart is ready to launch an own-label tablet which is expected to enable users to complete faster online transactions through its portal, Business Today reported.

It is, however, by no means certain that Indian consumers actually want tablets. Business Today quoted figures from research firm CMR which showed a 17.5% fall in tablet sales in the first quarter of 2014. And an Accenture survey found that of those Indian consumers intending to buy a smartphone in the next 12 months, two thirds would prefer a phablet.

Data sourced from Indian Express, Pitch, Business Today; additional content by Warc staff