Flipkart, is a man with a mission. Just three weeks into his new job, Soni — who had an eight-year-stint at Google launching various products and helping turnaround Motor Punit Soni, the recently appointed chief product officer at India’s largest e-commerce ola Mobility — wants to position Flipkart as not only a global tech powerhouse but a company which attracts the best global talent in the years to come.
“I’m coming to the future,” Soni said while talking to TOI in his first media interaction, referring to his return to India after having spent his entire professional career in the US. With a focus on enhancing Flipkart’s mobile commerce experience, Soni is already at work and said consumers will start to see changes on the mobile front very soon.
“We are focusing on getting amazing talent which is global in nature. Now we are at an inflection point and the world is looking at India as the big opportunity. Just like younger startups look up to Flipkart as a role model, now I want Flipkart to do the next thing — bring large number of people from across the globe to work here and live happily, both professionally and personally. This should then seep into the rest of the ecosystem. I think it will happen, it’s just about us evolving ourselves into a more thoughtful international employer than an Indian employer,” Soni said.Soni’s addition to the leadership team at Flipkart, along with another Google veteran Peeyush Ranjan who was hired as the head of engineering, is in line with the e-commerce major’s thrust on sharpening its technology play as it taps into talent from Silicon Valley’s fabled tech giants like Google. As one of the world’s most valued privately-held tech companies at over $11 billion, Flipkart’s focus will be on mobile, as outlined by its co-founder Sachin Bansal, even as it competes with a new set of mobile-first startups. Admitting to the downside of Flipkart’s legacy as a desktop-driven internet play, Soni said he was watchful of these younger startups. “It is a challenge. I understand that disruption most likely comes from a smaller startup. Their agility to do things is phenomenal and that is what makes them the prime disruptor of large companies.”
Flipkart and fashion e-tailer Myntra, which it acquired last year, have been pushing their mobile apps as smartphone penetration in India skyrockets. TOI reported earlier this year that Myntra plans to shut its website altogether with Flipkart following suit as the online retailers morph into pure-play mobile outfits.
“The conversation is what truly is a true mobile commerce experience — no one has really cracked it yet,” Soni said. “Today any mobile app is basically a website condensed into a small little phone with some ability to tap and swipe. Now compare that to the idea of shopping. I’m trying to build what is a true mobile commerce experience. If I can build that up in any geography, it is here in India.”