Founded in 2022 by former senior VP at Flipkart Ranjith Boyanapalli, Flash is an inbox built for power shoppers to alleviate the problem of promotional and spam emails sent by ecommerce platforms
A user can substitute the existing email account they’ve used to register on an ecommerce platform with their @flash.co email account
The startup has partnerships with more than 40 brands that offer rewards and cashback on the platform
A typical power shopper orders at least 100-150 times a year across ecommerce, food delivery and other platforms. With that kind of volume comes the headache of managing your email accounts, which get flushed with hundreds of promotional emails and delivery updates every other day, routed through a dozen apps and platforms.
This only clutters a user’s personal inbox, which often leads to missing out on important updates.
This was a problem personal to Ranjith Boyanapalli, who has worked at Flipkart for close to a decade. In his role as a senior vice president, he was the custodian of customer experience for the ecommerce giant.
Boyanapalli figured that to elevate customer experience, there is a need to do away with the pesky emails users receive all the time.
Armed with a vision to enhance user experience in an industry known for disruption, Boyanapalli founded Flash in 2022, an email address for ecommerce users.
With an @flash.co email address, a user can continue ordering online without having to sift through hundreds of promotional emails in their inbox.
Besides, Flash rewards users for ordering more, with segment-specific and brand-specific ‘streaks’ that a user can complete to earn cashback.
So, not only does the app declutter a user’s inbox, but it also rewards them for ordering more frequently.
The Bengaluru-based startup has already seen more than 10,000 downloads across app stores and enjoys partnerships with more than 40 brands, including Puma, PharmEasy, MyGlamm, Furlenco, Ixigo, Sleepy Owl, HealthifyMe, Bombay Shaving Company and WOW Skin Science, among others, which offer rewards on the platform.
One Address (Email) For All Shopping Need
“We believe that 70% of all emails received by a person in their inbox are shopping communication,” Boyanapalli said.
He further added that of this over 75% of emails are spam, or promotional in nature with only 25% being order-related.
And this is where Flash comes in. Rather than using a person’s email account to send promotional emails, which can sometimes be a potential threat in the form of cyberattacks, the platform has a native email service, which assigns a unique email ID to users.
“So, it is just an email that we have created for shopping purposes that also rewards you and helps you keep track of all your orders,” the founder said, explaining what the platform offers.
Essentially, a user can substitute the existing email account they’ve used to register on an ecommerce platform, say Flipkart, with their @flash.co ID.
More importantly, the founder said that a user does not lose any of their existing subscriptions after replacing the existing email address.
All communications from ecommerce platforms are diverted to the Flash email. The app then sifts through the emails received to detect an order, which it displays on its dashboard. The platform collates all the orders a user places and keeps track of them by giving insights into how the user spent online over a given period of time.
Not just this, a user is also rewarded with cashback for ordering more frequently when using Flash’s email ID. The app features ‘streaks’, both category- and brand-specific, which offer rewards for ordering a certain number of times.
For instance, the app’s ‘Foodie Frenzy’ streak gives cashback to users upon ordering a certain number of times across Swiggy, Zomato and Domino’s apps within a given streak’s validity.
The platform’s partners also offer channel-specific streaks, which unlock channel-specific rewards for users ordering multiple times. Further, there are also ‘Flash Perks’, which offer extra cashback beyond the streaks on each order with certain platforms and D2C platforms.
All of these rewards are identity-based, that is, a channel would recognise a Flash user and automatically offer applicable rewards.
“We are building the world’s first identity-based rewards programme,” said Boyanapalli.
However, the platform is targeting a very specific group of ecommerce users that Boyanapalli identifies as ‘power shoppers’.
“By power shoppers I mean, people who are high-frequency, high-diversity users already shopping 100-150 times a year across 20+ platforms,” the founder said.
According to Boyanapalli, there are about 25 Mn ecommerce users that fall into this category and the founder estimated that the number would reach 50 Mn in the next three years (by 2026). By that time, India’s ecommerce user base would have crossed 350 Mn.
The founder added that since there would be more users who would have a history with multiple vendors, Flash would have an increasing total addressable market. This also creates a group of high-spending users who are now incentivised to order more.
Driving Value For Brands
The founder said that Flash’s user base has been a key bargaining chip for the platform to attract more users. Boyanapalli noted that while India is a $70 Bn ecommerce market, with almost 150 Mn shoppers, the power shoppers contribute two-thirds to the ecommerce market value.
“Now, imagine having access to a community of 40 Mn people. I think if I were a brand it’s obvious. And that also shows in the intent with which brand signed up with us, we have signed up north to 35-40 brands and they do see value in tying up with us and backing us,” the founder said.
These brand partnerships form the core revenue stream for Flash, which charges a commission from the brands on a per-transaction and performance basis.
“I think we want to build that community of power shoppers. There is enough value in terms of trying to put your best foot forward for someone who already shops online without having to target specific groups,” Boyanapalli added.
Here, a key differentiation emerges between the reward trees/streaks that the platform offers. Platform-sponsored streaks are sponsored by Flash itself, while the platform allows its brand partners to customise and extract the lifetime value (LTV) of a user from the streaks these brands sponsor.
However, the expense of cashback is usually shared between the platform and the brands, though a rule of thumb is that the brand would shoulder all of the expense incurred by it on its specific streak.
While a highly focused, limited user base can have its demerits, Flash is building a community of power shoppers, whom he likes to refer to as the whales of the ecommerce space.
Although this community is hard to capture and harder to keep hold of, by offering an inbox which helps these users sort out their email accounts and monetise all the spam emails received, Flash is looking to consolidate the top 15% of India’s ecommerce users.