Almost 10 months after it launched an in-app chat service Ping, a social commerce feature, e-commerce company Flipkart Ltd has decided to replace it with ‘user to seller’ chat. Flipkart has also shut down another link that allowed customers to search through images.
Ping and the image search button were launched as part of a major drive towards product innovation, which was led by the Bengaluru-based company’s former chief product officer Punit Soni. Soni, a former Google employee, who quit Flipkart in April to pursue new opportunities in Silicon Valley.
Ping allowed users to browse for products and share them with friends inside Flipkart’s app. Image search feature that allowed users to browse for similar products based on images they upload on the site. Flipkart had partnered with Singapore-based start-up, Visenze, to launch this feature.
Ping was launched as a part of an effort to make shopping with friends easier, as e-commerce firms across the board tried to introduce social elements and create a network on their portals to get users to spend more time on their apps, and recreate real-world dynamics on their sites.
India’s largest e-commerce brand launched Ping in August last year as an invite-only feature. It claimed that 2.5 million users had downloaded it within 10 days of its launch. The company even aired television commercials to extensively promote the feature. However, the social commerce efforts by the company didn’t work as expected and has now decided to drop curtains.
As a replacement for Ping, Flipkart has launched a pilot for ‘user to seller’ chat and will soon begin ‘user to customer care’ chat on its platform. The new feature will help users to chat with sellers about their product related queries, prior to even buying the final product.
Earlier this year, Flipkart shut its groceries delivery app, Nearby, just about five months after the company started testing it. However, because it was a pilot, Flipkart didn’t market or promote Nearby extensively.
India’s biggest e-commerce firm is under immense pressure to beat back competition from cash-rich Amazon’s India entity, which recently got an infusion of $3 billion.