For online retailer #flipkart, mobile usage has been growing at a steady pace. The retailer is seeing a hockey stick growth in number of users on smartphones and tablets are growing fast as well. On Friday, the company launched a native Android application to create a fluid shopping experience. This was its first departure from the HTML5 based mobile experience it had until now. “The next in line is iOS, which we will launch within a couple of months. After that, we will try and create a better tablet experience,” said Saran Chatterjee, Vice President-Products, Flipkart.com, in a short interview with NextBigWhat. Edited Excerpts.
What is Flipkart’s strategy for mobile?
We have had an HTML5 experience which had given us access to all the different platforms like Android, iOS, Symbian and Windows 8. We made a call to gradually roll out more native experiences. The roll out is based on the order of usage and Android is obviously the most used. We will continue to solve for specific use cases on Android. The first version is to enable fast and easy shopping which a mobile site doesn’t let you do. Native technologies help you create a much more fluid experience. Now we will go to more specific use cases. Like interesting methods of discovery. The first version has voice and barcode. We want to get into other forms of product discovery.
We will also concentrate on helping users make purchase decisions. The current version has a few things aimed at that. For instance, you could e-mail or sms your friends to solicit inputs around certain products. Over time, we want to create a more social experience around it by making it easier to call friends and solicit inputs quicker.
Then there is the transaction experience. Today the transaction experience is HTML5. So its not purely native. Over time, we will look to make that purely native.
The postorder experience is also important on mobile, which has a huge role to play. It is important in terms of calling to check delivery schedule, order status or even very simple one touch way to receive delivery.
We also feel mobile is a great vehicle for serendipitous/ casual browsing. This is something we will look to tackle.
What do you have in mind for other forms of product discovery?
Firstly, we will get better at barcode. It works very well with books but we want to make it work at a higher level of accuracy for other items like Music. Voice search also has limitations in terms of understanding and adapting to the users tone and accent. Those things have to get better. Other forms of discovery would be things like Image. Our tagline for mobile is shopping on the go and so it needs a continuous shopping experience irrespective of the device.
When do you plan to roll out native apps for other platforms?
So we launched Flipkart on Android. We will enhance it over the course of one month. The next in line is iOS which will be a couple of months from now. After that, we will try and create a better experience on tablet devices which have a huge role to play. We will then enable a lot of use cases.
We will also look to see how we can create a simpler experience for lower end devices or first time users based on sms, voice and assistance. The feature phone experience is a very light version of the site which runs on the browser. The rate of smartphone growth is much higher. For us, feature phones are flat or slightly growing versus smartphones with hockey stick growth.