Flipkart shuts down Ping within a year of launch, rolls out ‘user to seller’ chat instead


Ten months after launch, Flipkart pulled the plug from its in-app chat service Ping. Intended to make shopping a social activity, the social commerce feature allowed users to talk to each other in real time, helping make decisions on what to buy. The effort was an outcome of Flipkart’s in-house research, which revealed that the inability to shop collaboratively was the number-one barrier for online shoppers.

Instead, the e-commerce giant said it is now piloting a new feature – ‘user to seller’ chat feature on its platform, which will allow customers to interact and chat with sellers and customer care executives. The Ping shutdown is followed by the shutdown of Flipkart's image search feature, which allowed users to browse for products, based on similar images they upload.

Around the launch time last year, the company had claimed that 2.5 million users had downloaded Ping within 10 days of its launch. In a company statement, Flipkart said, "Users will not be able to chat with their family and friends on Ping but will be able to browse through their existing chats on the app after 25th June, 2016."

The e-commerce marketplace confirmed that it doesn’t intend to eradicate the image search feature completely, adding that it will continue to support the 'Visually Similar' feature on the platform to make shopping easy and seamless.

Both the initiatives were led by the company’s former Chief Product Officer Punit Soni, who left the company in April. Earlier this year, Flipkart also shut its groceries delivery app Nearby, after piloting it for about five months.

The new technology team 

Just this month, Flipkart was reported to have reshuffled its technology team for the second time in a year, elevating its Engineering Head Peeyush Ranjan to the role of Group Chief Technology Officer and hiring former Google executive Surojit Chatterjee as its new Chief Product Officer.

Amazon and Micromax Informatics executive Ashish Agarwal is also expected to join the company this month as Senior Vice President of Engineering. In his new role, Ashish is expected to head the engineering division of Flipkart’s consumer shopping experience. Senior Vice President Hari Vasudev was promoted to head the technology function of two of Flipkart’s most important businesses –marketplace and Ekart.

Just yesterday, reports emerged that Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal was trying to bring back old executives to revitalise the brand.

But with immense market competition, it will be interesting to see whether Flipkart’s changes (in team, product and policy) will yield any good results for the e-commerce marketplace.