For millions of new internet users in India, Flipkart is their entry point into ecommerce. In 2021, Flipkart saw 350 million registered users and a 47% year-on-year customer growth in Tier 3+ cities. The biggest contribution was from the fashion category, with a YoY customer growth of 58%.
On the other hand, Flipkart also caters to a massive base of seasoned online buyers. By any definition, this is a diverse user base to satisfy.
In May 2022, Flipkart rolled out an app revamp, unveiling major changes in product, user experience, and visual interface design. Four months down the line, what has been the user response? We got you the answers from the Flipkart team.
One App, Varied Experiences
Bharat Ram, Senior Vice President, Growth & Retention at Flipkart, says that the app redesign focused on delivering what was most important to different audiences. In the case of first-time users, trust and easy accessibility are critical for helping users overcome their initial hesitation and start transacting. More seasoned users, on the other hand, are looking to discover new products and services.
#1 One-Click Mall Mode
The same user who wants budget-friendly products everyday, looks for premium, brand-focused purchases during festivals and special occasions. Enter Brand Mall, a toggle on the top of the homepage, that instantly ushers users into an “online mall shopping experience,” featuring popular brands.
Visually, this space has a larger image carousel above the fold. Higher-end brands and their logos are showcased prominently and there are fewer banners focused on discount-led messaging.
The team says that Brand Mall adoption has grown significantly with 80% of customers continuing to use the capability and not switching back.
#2 Prominent Grocery Tab
Flipkart entered online grocery in 2017, long before the pandemic fuelled it into one of India’s fastest-growing e-commerce categories. To boost discovery of this offering, Grocery has been given a prominent top tab on the homepage (previously, it was only one of many categories).
Click this tab and you enter a complete online grocery store. The homepage structure is similar to the regular Flipkart shopping homepage with deals, offers, grocery subcategories and brand banners.
Increasing Engagement with Familiar Patterns
First-time ecommerce users are likely to be familiar with apps like Google Play. These apps have taught them some navigation basics that Flipkart has chosen to reinforce, instead of presenting users with a steep learning curve. “This gives users a sense of ease and familiarity when they come to Flipkart and makes their experience sticky,” says Gaurav Mathur, Vice President – Design at Flipkart.
#1 Live shopping
Influencers and small brands on Youtube and Instagram have familiarised users with haul videos and shopping demos. To ride this wave, Flipkart has launched their own live shopping feature.
Users can join livestreams hosted by micro influencers and celebrities in fashion, beauty, electronics, nutrition, etc. The experience is similar to Insta Live. Featured products are displayed on screen as the presenter speaks. Shopping is as simple as clicking to add to cart. Users can also view and shop from past streams and get notified of upcoming ones.
#2 Richer Search
Typing to search is not ideal for all users. Many novice users see a product they like, often on social media or celebrity posts, but are unable to search for it because they don’t know what it’s called. Misspellings are also common, bringing up poor search results.
To simplify this, Flipkart has chosen to build a powerful image search that allows users to reverse-search from a screenshot or photo. Their voice search supports Hindi and English. A vernacular Flipkart interface is available in 11 Indian languages including Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam and Assamese. The team has stepped up local language support based on data. “95% of users who start with their local language stick to it, without switching, throughout their user journey.” Bharath says. “This tells us that their experience is consistently good or getting better.”
In the past few years, Flipkart has significantly expanded its category offerings. Enabling discovery of these was a key goal for the redesign. One way the team has done this is by upgrading the in-app search experience.
Simplifying the User Journey
It is always easier to add than to take away and over time, links and menu items had proliferated on the app. Core to the redesign exercise was rationalising and consolidating these for smoother user journeys.
#1 A Unified Nav Bar
Flipkart’s previous bottom navigation bar opened up a second drawer on tap to show more categories. Data showed that this was hard to discover and visually confusing. It was also not driving enough traffic, given its prime position.
During the redesign, this double drawer was eliminated and replaced with a clean, unified nav bar that brings together all the important actions for a customer: go-to-cart, visit my account, browse categories and check notifications.
“We noticed that people use Add to Cart as a shortlisting mechanism. So they need to access their cart frequently. We made it easy by placing the cart on the bottom right, closest to their thumb,” says Gaurav. This helps users build muscle memory to easily access what they often want to.
The team says that of all the feature updates, the unified nav bar has been the biggest success, seeing an 8-10x surge in usage.
#2 No Burger Menu
The burger menu is a standard UI fixture with most apps, because it is so tempting to tuck away everything under it. However, it can make navigation difficult, especially for novice users. Many categories also go undiscovered.
In a bold move, the Flipkart team did away with the burger menu completely — nudging users towards the bottom bar instead, where Categories gets a central slot.
#3 Filters with Clickable Tags
Dropdowns are the conventional choice for filters but they don’t enable category discovery. During the revamp, the team switched to filters in the form of clickable tags which are easier to navigate and improve discovery, personalising suggestions based on the user’s browsing history.
Putting it to Test
Flipkart has built formidable A/B testing infrastructure inhouse and for any feature to “win”, the team looks for a 95% positive response from the test base.
Gaurav shares an example: “Users add items to cart and compare them before buying. We ran a bunch of tests to figure out how we can make this easier for them. Eventually, we decided to showcase product ratings on the Cart to help users make the final shortlist and move to checkout.”
The ninth edition of Flipkart’s Big Billion Days sale in September 2022 saw many new users who came from smaller towns. Given that there were a whopping 1.6 million concurrent users on the app per second, it seems safe to say the redesign met expectations.
Flipkart also updated its visual interface and design system as part of the app revamp. We’ll cover that in Part 2 of this story. Stay tuned!