Flipkart, after grossing in over 30 times of the usual traffic during Big Billion Day, is now gearing to further enhance the buying experience for the users. The investor on board and tech partner Microsoft will now reportedly deploy AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning)-based solutions to run future sales for the ecommerce unicorn.
As per an official statement, the company saw no major glitches and is already looking upon to improve its tech systems for the future sales.
As stated by Vinay YS, Vice President of Engineering at Flipkart to ET in a recent interview, “AI and ML are becoming a focus for us now. We think there is a lot of opportunities to optimise how we do things like merchandising and offer placement. So we are putting those systems in place and looking to take away any kind of manual tuning and optimisation.”
Flipkart Alignment With Microsoft
The ecommerce unicorn has made a place in the Microsoft camp way before it came on board as an investor. In February 2017. During the visit of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to Bengaluru, he not only revealed his intentions to enhance AI and cloud capabilities of the businesses but also announced a partnership with Flipkart wherein Flipkart will adopt Microsoft Azure as its exclusive public cloud platform. As Satya said, “Microsoft’s mission is to support Indian entrepreneurs to create businesses of global scale.”
Later, just after two months, Microsoft was part of $1.4 Bn funding deal of the company along with Tencent and eBay. Microsoft has invested around $200 Mn to imbibe the AI and ML capabilities in Flipkart tech solutions.
“We mostly look at Microsoft from the point of view of AI and ML. There are a lot of those capabilities on Microsoft side that we would like to leverage. On aspects like voice recognition we want to partner with them deeply,” Vinay said.
Flipkart Bet On AI: A Long-Term Vision
Flipkart first revealed its plans to experiment with AI in late 2015. As shared by the then Chief Product Officer at Flipkart, Punit Soni in an interaction with Inc42, the company will become more mobile-centric through the adoption of newer technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and social networks. He also added that heavy discount on an online purchase may not earn consumer loyalty and help build a user base in the long run.
Since then, Flipkart has not looked back. The company is currently running Project Mira, an artificial intelligence-focused effort, in stealth mode since last year. “On 28 February (2017), we launched the first version of our conversational search experience. Now, our users with broad intent (searching for, say, shoes or bedsheets) are guided by relevant questions, conversational filters, shopping ideas, offers and trending collections,” said Ram Papatla, vice president of product at Flipkart in an April 2017 ET interview.
Globally, Amazon and eBay have also invested exhaustively in AI to improve their marketplaces. By going into AI, Flipkart is trying to solve problems of cart abandonment and frequent returns. With Microsoft association, how well Flipkart will be able to get wings to its AI dreams, will be worth watching.