Keeping the innovation engines at full throttle, the Flipkart way

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

The above statement by Steve Jobs defines the most important factor which should be inherited by an organisation in order to sustain and thrive in today’s competitive world. And looking at the recent past of Flipkart, India’s largest ecommerce company, it has not only hearted the statement but lived every moment with it. Be it the very first time when the company experimented with TV ads, or the exclusive deals with Motorola & Xiaomi or launching products under its own labels.

What does it take to keep the engines of India’s largest ecommerce company running at full throttle? Innovation in technology, marketing and branding and a great pool of talent have turned around things for Flipkart and continue to do so. And given the fact that more than 50% of Flipkart’s revenue comes from mobile, innovation in mobile technology has been at the core of company’s plan right from the beginning.

(From L-R) Amar Nagaram (Head of Mobile Engineering), Amod Malviya (CTO), Sachin Bansal (CEO & co-founder) during the Hackday

Sachin Bansal had once mentioned earlier,

 Mobile gives you multiple times data as compared to desktop. People browse more often in mobile, there are sensors like camera, GPS which are tools giving more information about the user. This helps in providing them with better/more localized experiences.

As a company scales, the number of employees grow. With that comes the need to put a formal management system in place and the corporatization starts. In the meantime, the craving for innovation, the energy and enthusiasm among employees subsides. It becomes very important for any technology company to keep the hunger for innovation alive. Simultaneously, keeping talented people intact and engaged all the time is equally important.

An HR expert shared,

People are caught up in boxes and they need an outlet for their creative elements to flow. Apart from their regular roles, cross team contribution gives an opportunity to bring out creative juices among employees. Any initiative, through which a company is trying to engage employees among themselves and encourage innovation does the job perfectly.

There have been multiple examples where small projects or experiments by employees have reinvented the company as a whole. Flipkart keeps on organizing hackathons with the aim to bring out the best of innovative ideas and provide them a platform to showcase. One such hackday was themed on mobile. Flipsters, the name given to Flipkart employees came up with some amazing hacks which might just define the future of online shopping. The company was very clear that their focus via such activities is on innovation outside of work and getting the mobile dev community together.Here are five uber cool innovations of Flipkart by Flipsters:

  1. KartBoard -Flipkart 3D Store: Based on virtual reality this KartBoard is similar to a CardBoard (launched by Google recently). It is an enclosure that transforms a phone into a basic VR headset, which can be used to convert the website into a store. A buyer can simply walk in/walk out of store, chose items and make payments using this KartBoard. In short, it’s the amalgamation of virtual reality and online shopping.
  2. Flipkart Buddy – Natural language processing (NLP) is the ability of a computer to understand what a human is saying to it. Flipkart Buddy is an NLP (Natural Language processing) enabled voice assistant for shopping on Windows app. For eg., it’ll respond to queries(voice) like “I’m looking for a beautiful red dress for my sister” and throw up results of red dresses available in the store.

  3.  JetFlip: It is a widget which could be placed on the home screen (of your smartphone) and could be used to access all the features of the app. It also provided access to Flipkart’s home page where the user could access the best deals and newest products. All the updates appear as dynamic texts/images on your home screen (or a apart of it). There’s an additional feature as well where voice commands could be used to search products.
  4. FlipFace: This hack uses facial features and expressions to navigate through the entire app. Through the hack a user could shift between products by tilting their head to the right or left based on their preference. Also closing eyes for a few seconds would add that particular product to cart and smiling would add it to the user wish list.
  5. Keep Browsing: The hack provided users a virtual experience of how different clothes would fit and the user could also check which colour combinations would look best on them. The entire process was done virtually through the app. A user had to upload a photo, select various parameters such as body type, skin tone and height. The hack would provide an estimated body frame based on the requirements. The user could swipe different clothing options and get an idea about how it would fit and the colour combinations that are best suited.
Hackday Winners

Flipkart is leaving no stone unturned to make itself a powerhouse of innovation and while the customers might be contended with the current services, the company is already planning to wow them with their blows of next-gen technology.


Judges evaluating a hack


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