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Flipkart.Naam to suna hi hoga! Baat yeh hai ke  India mein jab baacha raat ko rota hai, “Maa mujhe yeh toy/dress/book to chaihye hi, to maa kahti hai beta soja ..soja mein flipkart pein order kar doongi!” This article is about the Flipkart Indiblogger meet that I attended on 1 Aug 2015 at Hard Rock Cafe in Bangalore. It talks about Journey of Flipkart, Image search feature and the Meet.

Flipkart the journey

Launched in 2007, Flipkart  offers over 20 million products across 70+ categories. It  has 26 million registered users clocking over 8 million daily visits. Flipkart’s technology has enabled them to deliver 5 million shipments per month. Flipkart, started by a team of 2 is currently 20,000 people strong. Impressive! We can leave critics to decide Is it an  an Indian Alibaba or an Indian Amazon. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ wealth is $32.2 billion while Facebook’s Zuckerberg’s net worth  has crossed $33 billion. But the news of Flipkart being valued as a multi-billion dollar entity is way more heartening than the former two. I believe the ‘Indian-ness’ makes the whole difference, you know made In India, the of the Indians by the Indians, for the Indians . The Journey from 2007 is given in image below Ref:

Flipkart the journey from 2007 to 2014

Flipkart the journey from 2007 to 2014

What pegs Flipkart above other eCommerce firms. Flipkart is always trying to add value to its customers, whether it selling products worth Rs. 650 Crore on The Big Billion Day or or exclusive tie-ups with companies such as Motorola Mobility and Xiaomi . Yes there were hiccups on the Big Billion Day ,and as their Chief Product Officer Punit Soni , said but it was a learning experience  and now Flipkart  easily fulfils it.  Flipkart is in news for raising funds but how is it using those funds. Flipkart  is investing most of the raised funds in technology, supply chain and in building a better talent pool. It is thinking long term, trying to define how commerce ecosystem will shape in the future. Punit said,”For us the challenges are to take logistics to small towns and villages. Making payments easy for the consumer will also play an important role”. Currently with massive increase in Flipkart’s user base, maintaining a good user experience is a major challenge posed to company.

Flipkart acquired Myntara and in June 15 Myntara decided to the go the app way. Going the App Way was a bold move, 10% dip in sales were reported in just a week, followed by the debacle of the Mega Weekend Sale. Of course, it led to more debates about the Myntara’s choice to embrace the app-only strategy and if it’d consider going back to its desktop version. Have they anticipated and calculated the possible dip in sales before making the transition? But there is no denying the fact that more and more people, especially the next Gen, people from towns and non metros are using Mobile  to access internet. Critics say people will not wade through the sea of apps when they can simply use a website, or ask Google, or access information in some other fashion. They may be right.

But, mobile is how we are spending our time, and we are already spending 80% of that mobile time in apps. Smartphone penetration is expected to increase from 120-140 million in 2014 to 600-700 million by 2020. We cannot also ignore the fact that PC sales are declining. According to a recent study, 90% of smartphone users in India use apps, which is close to 158 million as of today. The country ranks second only to the US in the usage of shopping apps. Do consumers  want the simplicity and focus that apps provide, rather than the variety and diffusion inherent in websites. The App also gives more data about the user as compared to desktop, there are sensors like camera, GPS. This enable App provider to offer to its users to experience personalised shopping, by creating a platform to know their location, preferences and purchase patterns. Flipkart said that already 70% to 75% of the traffic is coming from their mobile app. Flipkart is famous for converting every challenge into an opportunity. Can it do so with Mobile Apps time will tell? Will Flipkart go Only the App Way, as rumours are circulating is to be seen. Punit said, they would not do anything that goes against their users.

Flipkart and Image Search

In Jul 2015, Flipkart launched  Image search feature on its mobile app, designed for its fashion category. The added feature will allow the use of any image to find visually similar products on Flipkart. With Image Search, users can now click a picture or use a photo on their phones to find fashion products of same colour, pattern or style on Flipkart, Punit said. “Discovering a fashion product online varies from user to user and is more complex as compared to other categories. A lot of fashion purchase decisions are influenced by similar products seen by users. The image search feature provides a way to find similar products on Flipkart as well as reduces the search/ browsing time, making the overall product discovery and shopping experience simple.”

Imagine that you’re reading a magazine and you liked that red dress/green bag. Or you go to a party or wedding and really love the shoes, dress,accessories that the guest or your aunty is wearing. How do you plan to shop for something that looks similar to what like. You go online in the hope to buy something similar and type  red  dress with blue flowers . How many options would you get Err… you get my point right! Describing something that you have seen can be a tricky task. And when it comes to products of fashion, you are deeply connected to things that you have seen. So to make life easier and shopping experience faster, Flipkart has introduced the Image Search feature on its mobile app. All you need to do now is, see, shoot and buy what you like. By leveraging inbuilt device capabilities like the camera, users can now search for fashion products, close to what they’ve seen—just by clicking a picture. The new feature is a big step that attempts to bridge offline to online experience in the fashion space.Is this is going to be a game changer in online fashion shopping?

Flipkart image search : Point Shoot and Search

Flipkart image search

How good is the image search feature in Flipkart. Well during the indiblogger meet there was a competition in which bloggers were divided into teams. Each team had to use image search feature in Flipkart mobile app and add the matching products to Wish list. Our team , team number 3, got 23 matches within 90% accuracy. A black dress with flower prints actually showed many options in Flipkart. Winning team,Team 5, had  40 matches. We were impressed – both by the Image search feature in App as well Team 5 team work in getting the matches.

Flipkart Indiblogger Meet: Image Search

Flipkart Indiblogger Meet: Image Search

Punit further added, “This is in line with our ambition to create a very intuitive thoughtful mobile experience that is universally accessible to everybody, regardless of whether they use text or visuals to communicate with us.” Flipkart team is working to make this feature better and And there will be more such innovative features and developments in the coming months, promised the Flipkart team. Flipkart Enables ‘Click and Collect’ Feature Across 10 Indian Cities I read the next day.

Indiblogger meet is always a pleasure to go. It is well organised, about something new, at great places, good food and overall a fun and awesome experience that most of Indibloggers look forward to these meets.  Hard Rock cafe on Saturday morning ,  Hell Yeah!!! Event started with a great live performance, which got everyone in mood. Followed by the 30 seconds of Fame, where the fellow bloggers introduce themselves.

Then it was all about Point. Shoot. Win, the new Image search feature on Flipkart App presented by none other than their Chief Product Office, Punit Soni. I was bowled over by the fact that the Chief Product office himself came to talk about the new feature. That shows the commitment! It took me few minutes to realise that this is ex Google man, who has joined Flipkart in Mar 2015 and is leading one of the largest engineering team at Flipkart. What was also interesting was the way the questions were handled by the Flipkart team , a truly joint effort and also the way they mingled with the bloggers during the break, answering the questions. “Why is App on windows different from that on Android?”, “Is Flipkart  planning to go the mobile app”, “Which other categories is Flipkart planning to extend Image search feature.” Give the picture of the room and we will get it for you. When Punit talked about  image search and introducing other such features on mobile app, a full fledged Indian effort, I felt proud and I hope to see the day when an Indian company leads. Meeting the aspirations of billion Indians, many of them with only basic internet connection, is a difficult task but seeing the enthusiasm of the Flipkart team, didn’t seem impossible.

Flipkart team Image search demo and Q&A

Flipkart team Image search demo and Q&A

Icing on the cake was the book launch of 10 Love stories  authored by 10 Indiblogger authors, two of them present that day to read their stories and autograph them. Amazing day, lots to learn and had lots of fun and amazing book to read.

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