E-commerce giant Flipkart has just launched Ping, a new feature in its mobile app that allows users to chat with their friends while shopping thus creating a more social shopping experience. Ping underlines the strong mobile centric-approach that Flipkart has taken in recent times.
Ping chat is for now invite-only, but Flipkart’s Chief Product Officer Punit Soni, who joined the company this March from Google, said this was just to gauge initial response.
“We will decide invites based on areas and certain age groups. Areas where there’s more density of Flipkart users, where we know that their friends are also likely to use the feature, will get the invites first. Also we know that a certain age-group is more likely to take to this faster, so that too will be a criteria, “Soni added. Each user, who gets a Flipkart Ping invite, can invite 10 more friends to try it out.
Ping will let users share pictures of a product, links to a product page, and even the entire screen from within the Flipkart mobile app with their friends. On Ping, a user can start a group chat with a select group of friends and they can reply and add inputs on what the user should buy.
Additionally, if a user sends a ‘Ping’ from the Flipkart app to a friend who does not have the app, that friend will get an SMS link to download it. Once they do so, it will open straight to the ‘Ping’ sent by their friend and not on the Flipkart app homepage as it usually happens when one downloads an app via a link.
Soni also stressed that the Ping feature in the app has been optimised for slower networks, and that it will consume less data and battery life on smartphones as well. “We don’t want to add a feature that will send bills through the roof for customers. We’ve ensured that Ping supports older Android devices as well,” he added.
While Soni refused to comment on speculations regarding Flipkart going app-only soon, he added that Ping will remain a mobile-only feature. On whether Flipkart plans any features for the desktop site, Soni said the focus was for now on mobile. “The graphs clearly show that in India mobile dwarfs the PC market. Over 41 per cent of Indian e-commerce comes from mobile, which is the highest in the world,” he pointed out.
Flipkart says it has 50 million registered users and that it has the highest user engagement at 59 minutes. Recent reports have indicated that Flipkart has pushed back its plans to go app-only. Whether Flipkart ditches desktop or not, it is clear that major innovations in the product will be focused at mobile level for now.