The online e-retail site Flipkart on Tuesday announced Ping, which is a new type of messenger-cum-social network built into the app of the online e-retail site. According to Flipkart, Ping will allow you to shop with your friends and family.
“Right now, shopping on mobile is a very isolated experience and complicated. Ping is a fun new way to shop with friends. It is social shopping experience integrated in Flipkart,” said Punit Soni, Flipkart’s chief product officer on the announcement.
For now Ping would be available to Flipkart users only if they have been invited to it. But gradually, it will be rolled out to all users. The service is being rolled out on an invite basis, where the e-commerce giant grants 10 invites per person on particular age group, who have a lot of Flipkart users in their circle. It is not targeting users who spend a lot, but looking for a certain youthful demographic.
The company claims that it is not accessing the address book of its users to figure whom it should invite, but has a vague idea of things.
The key feature of Ping is that it will add a Facebook Messenger style chat window inside the Flipkart mobile experience, where a user would be able to drag, drop and share the stuff they are thinking of buying. It will even allow users to share their entire Flipkart screen with friends in the chat thread.
The key point here is that whatever items you’ve checked out or added in the shopping basket will be visible to your friends or family if they are part of the chat.
The experience has been built using Flipkart’s own infrastructure and has been made taking into account the complexities of India. For instance, the feature has a network data usage of 5 per cent of what competing e-commerce apps have, claims Peeyush Ranjan, who is the chief technology officer at Flipkart.
Moreover, it consumes just one sixth of the battery life compared to that of traditional messaging apps, which are based on the web socket protocol.
Flipkart claims Ping has been architected in such a way that if it thinks the network can’t handle a full size image it will not send it. It will instead send compressed images on the basis of the network conditions and the device you are using.
Another first that Flipkart introduces with Ping is the way it deep links the Flipkart app from an SMS invite. By this it means, if there’s someone on your contact list that you want to invite to ping, but the person doesn’t have the app installed on the phone, it will send an SMS from your phone book, but that SMS will contain a deep link that will not only download the app on your phone, but will take you directly to the ping chat window.
“We are not building a messaging app, we are building a product for people to shop in social ways, ” emphasised Punit Soni.
He also said that Flipkart’s future roadmap also includes ways of connecting its users to the sellers, customer service executives and Flipkart itself. This sounds similar to what Snapdeal is doing with its Shopo app, which was revealed a couple of months ago.
Justifying the launch of Ping, Flipkart claimed that around 50 million of its users were on mobile, and they spent 59 minutes per month on the app as per a survey by Nielson. It also claimed that 41 per cent of India’s e-commerce users are on mobile, which is a number higher than any country in the world.