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Flipkart plans to debut its own standalone WeChat imitation by end of 2017

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Tencent’s WeChat has become a super app in tech industry. The app is used for social media, instant messaging, commerce, as well as payment services and has been a huge success in China, the market it was developed for. Flipkart plans to follow a similar model to develop and release an app that can be used for everything from ordering food to planning a vacation to calling a cab to even buying daily products!

This plan is being put into action by the company’s app design and engineering team. This is another initiative of new CEO Kalyan Krishanmurthy, who intends to use this strategy to complement Flipkart’s advertising business.

The company is currently speaking to the top players in the food, cab, and travel aggregators industry and is expected to launch its super app by the end of this year. Prakash Sikaria, senior director of monetisation and new initiatives at Flipkart said,

The business is targeting a December launch and will follow a WeChat model, where the Flipkart app can be used to book a cab, order food or plan your travel

With the launch of loyalty points for all purchases on Flipkart, the Flipkart platform will act as a distribution channel for these services

The company expects this new app to increase customer loyalty and revenue by putting its large customer database to use. The monetisation of this customer data could potentially open up new channels of revenue. But to effectively use this customer data, the app will have to be attractive as well as have a smooth interface for customers to be willing to use it.

This new value added service platform will give customers a service that is strikingly similar to Google’s newly launched Areo, an app that allows to instantly gain access to restaurants, beauty salons, and other home maintenance or cleaning services.

While Flipkart is in talks with major companies for cabs, food delivery, and travel, the company intends to remain independent when it comes to daily essential goods. For this sector, it plans to launch an in-house grocery and FMCG offering soon.

While WeChat is a known success in the world, there have been initiatives taken in India for a similar app by Snapdeal. The latter tried to increase user engagement on its app by using its tie-ups with Zomato, Uber, and Cleartrip to follow the same model of offering food, cab, and travel services. Another app that has seen to have multiple uses is Alibaba’s Paytm although this has no partnerships with other companies and has built each vertical from scratch.

While it is still unclear whether Flipkart will use its own digital wallet PhonePe when it implements the app, a significant point to be noted is that such an app will have a widespread effect in the e-commerce industry as proven by WeChat in the Chinese market. But, a downside as pointed out, could be that the app will attract too much traffic and may even have too many features that users are unaware off. Sikaria also said,

The services will be fulfilled by the partners while the customer loyalty, transaction and revenues will increase through this app strategy. However, these are early days and the strategy needs to be refined with a six-eight month runway


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