Interview with Nishant Pradhan, ex-product manager, Flipkart

Any specific reason why you joined Flipkart? Is that because of your previous experiences in online based firms?

  • I wanted to be part of the Indian e-tailing revolution. Flipkart was the best choice.
  • Having worked at two marketplaces – (marketplace for artists and art seekers) and ebay (specifically, PayPal’s dispute resoltution product)– I had figured out that I enjoy building/working-in marketplaces – the balancing act that you play in a marketplace – between a buyer and a seller is exciting and at the same time very challenging. Building a marketplace for Flipkart from scratch was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss.

What are all the aspects that you learned in Tumbhi and eBay that helped you in Flipkart?
  • Tumbhi is basically a marketplace between Artists and Art seekers. It gave me a holistic picture of how we can transform something that is present in offline to online. This is exactly what Flipkart is doing. Trying to transform the shopping that is happening offline to online.
  • Tumbhi also gave me the experience of running a small team and working in small groups. Here, I got a chance to interact with people who may not be the best in the industry, but share a passion to create something huge.
  • Above everything I learned about the Indian market – things like how does an Indian customer perceive online portal, what do they look for among others.
  • PayPal was a huge setup and I was one of the sixty product managers there. In Paypal, I learned E-commerce and retail as a whole.
  • In addition to Indian market, I got to know about global market – myself dealing with five international markets. Here I sharpened both my negotiation skills and communication skills. It also helped me learn how a large company functions and how a product manager structures a large company.

How important are communication skills for a product manager at an online ecommerce site?
  • Communication skills are an important, if not the most required skill for a product manager. It is about managing expectations between various stakeholders. You need to have good communication skills as a person to maintain good relationships with folks.
  • Also, you need to build relationships, understand the customer to build the product. For that reason, you should be good listener as well which form essential part of communication.

What does a product manager do in an online retail? How different is that from being a product manager in a brick and mortar retail centre?
  • Product manager, between managing expectations and experiences of multiple stakeholders - truly keeps focus on the customer. For him every decision starts and ends with the customer.
  • Fundamentally, can’t be very different if both retailers are focused on customer experience AND believe that technology is not just the enabler but the driver. Culture might vary; way of working might be different but the work remains same.

Can you please say something about the culture at Flipkart?
  • At Flipkart, customer is the most important person and everything starts and ends with customer. It forms building block of flipkart culture. All decisions are taken and all discussions are conducted with customer as focus. So, if you are customer focused, Flipkart is a culture that is suitable for you.
  • Another important aspect of Flipkart culture is excellence. In the presence of competition, excellence is very important in terms of improving your market share, defining what flipkart brand stands for, making sure to launch a product before anyone else.

Was it challenging to work in a field which is being accepted as retail only from the last few days/years?
  • Oh yes! Although e-tailing is here to rewrite the fundamentals of retailing – that can’t happen without understanding the traditional retail – both in terms of breath and depth. And then figure out ways to challenge it and redefine it. Not at all an easy task.

What were some of the challenges you faced when you worked in Flipkart?
  • Building products that are balanced, that are best suited for Indian customers - (sellers or buyers) – have the best of self-serve and service; best of people and product.
  • Making decisions in an extremely fast paced environment like Flipkart - again balancing between instincts and data.
  • Managing multiple stakeholders – especially while running a cross domain product.

How would be a typical day for a product manager in Flipkart?
  • Start by looking at key performance indicators of the entire business, followed by the product(s) that I was managing – and do short term course corrections (if any).
  • Reading up on various marketplaces all over the world – picking up on trends and data points.
  • Meeting customers – both buyers and sellers and understand what are the problems that they are facing.
  • Meeting various stakeholders – category managers, operation managers, engineering guys, marketing, legal etc.
  • Spending time on stories and tasks and fine tuning them for developers.
  • Spending time with product managers of other domains – mostly to understand what is one up to.

Sravani is currently pursuing her MBA in IIM Lucknow. An engineering graduate in computer science, she worked in IT field before joining IIML. She is going to specialize in marketing and systems. She is an avid reader, reading everything under the sun and a dance enthusiast. She is currently working with IIMNet ventures as an intern. She can be reached at 



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