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E-Commerce Firms Bank On Technology And Talent To Beat Competition Who will emerge as the champion of e-commerce space?

By Ritu Kochar

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One of India's largest e-commerce firms, Flipkart, plans to take their technology up a notch and enhance the online shopping experience for their users. To achieve this they will spend more on improving their technology and hence, will increase the number of engineers and data scientists by at least 50 per cent, states a report in Economic Times.

With Indian online shopping industry on a new high and everyone competing for supremacy, this decision by Flipkart to augment their technology seems like a good move. Especially after receiving major backlash in 2015 when they decided to go mobile application only, joined by Myntra, and Amazon taking over the leadership in desktop visits by December 2015. Flipkart was still able to maintain its leadership in mobile traffic, thanks to its big offers and discounts only on the app during the three-day sale in October 2015 called "Big Billion Days".

The CTO of Flipkart, Peeyush Ranjan, gave an insight into his plans in ET. Though the website experience will be enhanced for desktop users, their focus is still on mobile space "We continue to very heavily invest in the mobile space. Within the mobile space, there are so many sensors in your device that we're investing more and more in computer vision, speech recognition, location analysis," Flipkart CTO Peeyush Ranjan told ET. "As you invest in the science, you can utilise that in visual search, you can utilise that in similarity of t-shirts or clothes or whatever," said Ranjan.

Another aspect of this development is handling huge chunks of data. Compared to startups in the Silicon Valley, this technology is still 'niche' in India and needs some working. On this Ranjan said, "We're investing in technologies on mobile, we are investing heavily in infrastructure -- we have built the biggest data centre in India. And we are using that to understand a lot of data -- big data and machine learning,"

Flipkart currently has about 1,000 people in its engineering unit and that figure could go up to as much as 1,500 in 2016. "Mobile, infrastructure, productivity are the biggest areas. We are looking for a lot of data scientists," he said.

Amazon's move to expand business scope

Looks like Amazon has gone on a 'hiring spree' as they paced up their hiring process and chose half a dozen top managers. This spontaneous measure by Amazon is aimed at consolidating its gains as well as expanding the scope of its business in India's fast growing online retail industry.

"The company is also strengthening teams in (key) sectors like fashion," said one of the sources to ET. The hiring spree Amazon took to seems reasonable given the increasing completion, but what was surprising was it poaching talents from rivals, bringing in Jabong's Puneet Gupta to head sales and marketing for fashion, food and grocery. Pranav Bhasin formerly with online travel portal MakeMy Trip has been appointed a director of product management.

Other than this, in the past three months, Amazon had roped in a diverse cast of top executives including McKinsey partner Sameer Khetarpal who will now drive special initiatives for sellers, while veteran marketer Aparna Batra--with experience of managing global brands like whisky maker Glenfiddich and Czech crystal maker Swarovski-- will be the category head for accessories.

Jagannathan, an IIT Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad graduate who was until recently the chief digital officer at IDFC Bank, will be one of only three vice presidents within Amazon India, the other two being country head Amit Agarwal and category management head Samir Kumar.

According to estimates by investment bank Goldman Sachs, India's ecommerce market is expected to triple to $68.8 billion by fiscal year 2020. Keeping this in mind, the importance the right leader and right team is not ignored. It will solely be responsible for which e-commerce will emerge out as the best, not just nationally, but also on an international level.

Ritu Kochar

Former Staff, Entrepreneur India

Ritu used to work as a Feature writer for Entrepreneur India.

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