Over 1.5m users visit Flipkart using vernacular language every day: Jeyandran Venugopal

Flipkart Connect 2.0: The Chief Product Officer of Flipkart talks about the next 200 million customers who will form the next wave of adoption of digital commerce in the country, and more

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 5, 2020 2:12 PM
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Flipkart Connect 2020, a virtual conference hosted by e-commerce company Flipkart, witnessed Indian and international thought leaders presenting their views on various subjects, from e-commerce to the disruptive field of commerce advertising.


The virtual event saw the presence of industry leaders-- Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart Group; Jeyandran Venugopal, CPTO, Flipkart; Manu Kumar Jain, MD, Xiaomi India; ArpanSheth, Senior Partner, Bain & Co; Varun Alagh, Co-founder and CEO, Mamaearth; Sankalp Mehrotra, Senior Director of Monetization, Flipkart; Rajan Anandan, MD, Surge and Sequoia Capital India LLP, and Seth Godin, Bestselling Author and Entrepreneur.


Jeyandran Venugopal spoke on the topic--'Flipkart’s organic growth drivers for n200m: Fintech, 3Vs and Hyperlocal' and shared about new product innovations brought by the brand with a vision to democratise e-commerce in India. 

According to Venugopal, 2020 has been a challenging year, but at the same time, it has opened up new opportunities for businesses. “This has been a year of changes, with COVID-19 presenting challenges for everyone. At the same time, it has also opened up new opportunities for businesses to reinvent themselves and race up to the new challenges with normal product offerings and new ways to serve our customers’ evolving needs. In this period, we are continuing to build and launch new shopping and engagement constructs for the Indian consumer.” 

Speaking about Flipkart’s strategy and the 3Vs, he shared, “Today, I would like to talk about three different areas where we have launched and scaled a set of products this past year. The first one is about product innovations that we have developed specifically for the consumer cohort, which we call as an n200m customers. By n200m, we are referring to the next 200 million customers who will form the next wave of adoption of digital commerce in the country. These users are typically from tier two and beyond cities. We have a strategy, which we internally refer to as the ‘V3 strategy’. V3 refers to Vernacular, Video and Voice. And we have seen significant adoption and success for the products we have developed as we went along these pillars.”

He further spoke about Flipkart’s new hyperlocal service that comes with a 90-minute delivery promise and also highlighted the brand’s fintech product offerings .

“We launched our new hyperlocal service with a 90-minute delivery promise in Bangalore recently. The third area I will highlight is our fintech product offerings through which we have been bringing affordability and value for all our customers on our platform."

"We will first dive a bit more deeper into the first thing, the products for that n200m customers. This next wave of users have very different needs from our current customer base. First, they have a strong preference for vernacular content. Earlier this year, the Indian internet user demographic witnessed a key milestone being crossed. For the first time, India today has more rural active internet users than urban ones. In fact, by the end of 2021, there are going to be 500 million Indian language internet users. This is in comparison to 200 million English users in the country. Second, these users, who may have not yet adopted e-commerce, are already on the internet and are avid users of social and video apps. Consumers are spending 30X the time on video content compared to the time spent on product shopping. Hence, the media will be critical to our strategy to acquire and engage these users on our platform.”

Speaking further about the Vs,Venugopal shared 18% of new users onboarded on Flipkart chose a vernacular interface. “The last but not the least of the three Vs is Voice. Voice, our natural language base interaction, will be key in enabling the purchase aspirations for these customers. In fact, Google India has consistently reported a 3X year over year increase in the quantum of voice searches on their platform. In China, for example, we saw last year that Alibaba & Genie received more than 1 million orders during their Singles Day Shopping Festival last year."

"We will talk about the first of the three V3 - Vernacular. We launched our platform in Hindi last year. And this year, we are launching, and have been the first in the market to do so, in three more regional languages-- Tamil, Telugu and Kannada. More than 1.5 million unique users visit Flipkart using vernacular language every day. In fact, 18% of our new users onboarded Flipkart, by choosing a vernacular interface. We have seen that the user stickiness is 95% for the vernacular interface, indicating that they really value the usability and convenience of being able to access our platform in the language of their choice.”

Explaining the importance of interactive viewing experience and why the e-commerce giant launched ‘Flipkart Ideas’, Venugopal added, “We believe that there is a huge market potential in making a mobile-first and gamified digital video platform. Digital Video viewers in India are growing at a CAGR of 19%. In our video offering, we are building unique content offerings. We bet it around interactive viewing experiences, and digital game shows with real incentives. The response so far has been extremely encouraging. We have grown to about 10 million monthly active users. We have 90% plus video completion rates on these new interactive digital game show formats, indicating an unprecedented level of engagement for this type of content. The user retention rates on these have also been top notch. 

Also, pivoting around the video, we launched a new inspiration and engagement destination called ‘Flipkart ideas’. Though it's still early days for this product, we already have several hundred influencers and more than 200 brands who have established their presence on this platform to connect and engage with their customers and followers. We have more than 7 million monthly active users on this platform. And several brands have already gained hundreds of thousands of followers for their brand page. And some of them even have a higher number of followers on Flipkart ideas than they do on Instagram.

Adding further on how Flipkart developed a grocery assistant using voice technology, Venugopal said, “We have taken our first step in voice technology by launching the grocery assistant. This was built after a deep ethnographic study spanning several cities that took over a year. We spent the time to deeply understand the nuances of the 'Bharat' consumers and to develop voice models that cater to the several regional variations in speech patterns. It was very important that the voice assistant should be able to carry context and be able to support a multi-turn exchange. It was also important for the assistant to be able to recognize and process mixed mode speech, which is very common in India. Mix mode speech is where the users will naturally intermingle words from more than one language within the same sentence. This intermixing of languages typically happens with English words and phrases being interspersed within a sentence along with the vernacular language. The voice assistant has been accustomed with a fully homegrown, artificial intelligence platform, which has industry leading ports in automated speech recognition and natural language understanding. This assistant has been built with a deep understanding of e-commerce context and concepts, and has been built to be scalable across categories across use cases and languages. We plan to continue to invest and scale these across other categories over time as well.”

Venugopal further highlighted the various credit facilities and financing options provided by the brand. He shared, “We have been working on several fintech concepts. We launched the ‘Flipkart Pay Later’ programme to give credit to customers for their buying needs within a monthly cycle. This provides significant convenience to the customers in their buying process, while also extending much needed credit. We are currently seeing a 1.5X increase in the number of customers availing 'Flipkart Pay Later' concept compared to the pre-COVID times. We also launched a co-branded card with Axis Bank to cater both to credit worthy Indians and also to new-to-credit customers. And we have seen extensive pan-Indian adoption." 

Today, as more and more consumers pay through online shopping and digital payments, we are seeing the rise and adoption of financing options. In fact, we see a 30% increase in spending by customers using credit financing constructs, such as debit card, EMI, co-branded card and Flipkart Pay Later, bringing the benefit of credit to an ever expanding universe of new-to-digital consumers.This has been possible through our partnerships under innovations in alternative credit modeling using non-traditional signals. We have also innovated on improving the security and convenience of using digital payment instruments. We partner with the visa network to launch the visa safe click capability powered by visa, which is India's first in app device based network authentication solution. This eliminates the need for OTP for transactions of Rs 2000 while also ensuring a completely secure payment experience. We have also been working closely with the National Payments Corporation of India to increase the adoption of UPI and Rupay and are seeing great results.”

Concluding the session, he said, “On a different topic from credit financing, and payment digitization, our fintech unit also partnered with leading insurers to bring to market much needed health insurance policies, specifically for COVID-19 and life insurance policies that are being specifically designed for the need of the hour to include hospitalisation cover for Covid-19 in addition to the term cover.”

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