Drishti Makhija works as a Software Developer Engineer (SDE) at Blinkit. She joined us about six months ago and is now a part of the tech team within the Product Listing and Search pod. She’s always had the inclination to work at scale while making an impact and shipping a customer-first experience. In this post, Drishti recounts her journey with Blinkit and the lessons she learned along the way.
From Customer to Employee
This year on my friend’s birthday, about 3 hours from midnight, I failed to get the ideal bouquet of flowers. Moreover, nobody was offering same-day flower delivery. Thanks to Instagram’s recommendations, I found an advertisement for “Grofers is now Blinkit, delivering in minutes.” I didn’t think flowers belonged on this platform, but there’s no harm in giving it a shot. To my delight, Blinkit offered a fantastic selection of flowers. That day, Blinkit gained another devoted customer. However, I wanted to learn what made the company tick and contribute to this fantastic product, not just be a customer.
Initial days at Blinkit
I always desired to work in a team with a direct line of sight to the end customer during my two years of experience in software; therefore, when given the option to select a vertical, I opted for Consumer. I joined the Product Listing (PLP) team as an SDE-1.
Coming from an MNC, I was astonished by the team structure here. Everyone here comes from a diverse range of disciplines, including design, data, product, and software. Yet, they all shared the same objective: “How can we serve the customer and the business by enhancing discovery?” My teammates’ commitment and ownership inspired me to join the same boat immediately.
Things were going quickly initially, and it was a little daunting. However, my manager Mohit helped me adjust to this new environment. Rather than spoon-feeding me answers, he asked the right questions so I could figure out the best solution to any issue.
Sancheeta, as well as other team members from the Innovation Hub (IHUB), joined us a few days after I joined the team, and I collaborated with them on one of my first projects, “People also buy” and “Buy more, save more.”
People also buy is a feature that recommends products bought along with the product added to the cart while Buy More Save more is for nudging the customers to buy more quantities of specific products and save extra. Throughout these projects, I gained knowledge about the power of data and how to leverage it to develop a consumer-focused product while attaining business goals. We approached these initiatives with an experimental perspective, so if we fail, we fail soon–as opposed to waiting months for the complete feature to roll out. My manager, Sancheeta, has always held the conviction that if it’s an experiment, we should swiftly deliver a smooth experience to the customers and let the data determine whether the idea is worthy of further iteration. In addition, even though it goes against our instinct as engineers, we should never over-engineer any problem.
After its initial incarnation, “People also buy” was discontinued due to poor results. At that point, among the most crucial teachings I learned as an engineer, was that failures shouldn’t hold us back; instead, we should move on without dwelling on the setbacks. Contrarily, “Buy more, save more” was one of the projects I worked on up until this point, and it produced impressive results by raising the Average Order Value (the amount a customer spends per order).
Looking at the product via a new lens
Around my second month, one of the designers in our team invited us for a UX research interview with a customer. It was the first time I had the chance to hear the other end of the story. I realized that we work on problem statements day in and day out and look at the Blinkit app all the time, so sometimes we take the customer for granted–we feel that consumers will notice and use our feature as we do, but that is not always the case. This interview experience also taught me that I didn’t want to be another engineer who just codes, but I want to be a Product Engineer who can ship an experience to the customer.
Over the following months, I did a couple of cross-team and business-critical projects. One such project was during the festive season. Due to some chaos, it dawned on me that I should start anything with “why” & “what” and then figure out the “how”–instead of directly working on a feature, figure out why I need to work on it.
There have been some ups and downs in these six months, but my learnings were exponential at every step. I came here to make an impact, and I did. My parents, who never trusted online shopping, now use Blinkit for every small and big thing they need. I, along with the PLP team, recently started working in collaboration with the Search team, and I am looking forward to exploring a new set of problem statements. I would like to thank Sancheeta, Mohit, Siddhant, Harsh, Himanshu, and the PLP & IHUB team for giving me such a rich experience.
Drishti is a SDE 1 at Blinkit. You can follow her on Linkedin.
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