Bengaluru: India’s largest e-commerce firm Flipkart said as many as 2.5 million users have downloaded its app-based messaging service Ping since it was launched 10 days ago.

Flipkart launched Ping on its app on 25 August as an invite-only feature. It expected about 100,000 users to sign up for the service when it was launched.

“The customer response has been way more than what we initially thought," chief product officer Punit Soni said. “We’d initially made it invite only because we wanted to see organic growth—we wanted people who actually wanted to use Ping to share it with their friends and family rather than just push for downloads. We also kept it invite only because it’s a new feature and we wanted to see how the infrastructure would cope. On both fronts, the response has surprised us so we decided to open it up to all users."

Soni said about 600,000 customers had used Ping so far. The company has more than 45 million registered users.

Flipkart’s messaging service is a nod to the so-called social commerce strategy that online fashion peddlers are adopting to acquire and retain customers. Companies such as Myntra (owned by Flipkart), LimeRoad, Voonik, Wooplr and Roposo are striving to create a social network for fashion enthusiasts, encouraging them to share fashion tips and related content with fellow users on these platforms. Such a strategy has increased customer stickiness but the revenue generation potential is not yet clear.

Flipkart’s Soni said the early indications of the impact of the messaging service pointed to an increase in impulse purchases—the equivalent of walking into a shopping mall and buying things you hadn’t planned to.

“It’s too early to say for sure and we’re closely monitoring (how Ping affects buying decisions) but there has been an increase in people buying things they hadn’t planned to," he said.

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