Nielsen report shows surge in use of mobile apps for shopping

The number of smartphone owners using mobile apps of e-commerce has gone up from 1,680 (21%) in May 2014 to 4,320 (54%) in May this year


Flipkart currently gets 75% of its traffic through its mobile apps. Photo: Bloomberg
Flipkart currently gets 75% of its traffic through its mobile apps. Photo: Bloomberg

New Delhi: More and more Indians are shopping on mobile apps—not only has the number of shoppers grown, but they are spending more time shopping on apps and their ranks in smaller towns and cities are growing, too, according to a new report by research firm Nielsen.

The number of smartphone owners using mobile apps of e-commerce companies has gone up from 1,680 (21%) in May 2014 to 4,320 (54%) in May this year, based on real-time mobile usage data across 8,000 handsets in the country, said Nielsen Informate Mobile Insights.

With India being the next big frontier for smartphone consumption, these numbers point to a larger shift in mobile consumption behaviour.

“Almost nothing else matters to us (Indians). This (the mobile app) is the most significant way for Indians to access e-commerce. Most of our users will never see a laptop. Last year, this has been the most fundamental shift in the industry from one platform to another,” said Punit Soni, chief product officer at Flipkart, which currently gets 75% of its traffic through its mobile apps.

Amazon India echoed the view. “All our development and innovation is app first, and it will continue to be our flagship experience. However, as a customer-obsessed company, we will enable our customers to shop any time, anywhere and anyway they want, including a mobile and a desktop site. Some of the other areas of focus will be around the unique capabilities of mobile such as location awareness, camera and voice to help transform the shopping experience dramatically,” said Akshay Sahi, head of customer experience at Amazon.in.

Smartphone users spent nearly two hours a month on these e-commerce apps—women 119 minutes and men 103 minutes.

“Features like image search, (that allows you to access visually similar dresses and tops as uploaded) smart search (that allows you to search through barcodes and voice search) is driving people to increasingly use mobile phones. These features are exploding in terms of consumption,” said Soni.

The data also shows users in non-metros are slightly more engaged with shopping apps than those in the metros—they clocked an average of 116 minutes per month, compared with 109 minutes per month by users in smaller towns and cities. “The former has limited shopping alternatives, especially in the electronics and apparel category, although the latter has higher spending power. The cash-on-delivery option is also a driver of small town adoption of shopper apps,” said the report.

The most popular e-commerce products viewed and bought are electronics items, a segment driven by young men, the report added.

Amazon gets over 50% of its traffic from tier-II and tier-III cities: “Clearly, size and speed of the app and payments are top focus areas to continually enhance customer experience. To address the poor network conditions, our app is now one of the lightest in the industry, with some of the lowest page loading rates,” said Sahi.

India’s largest e-commerce firm, Flipkart, led the pack for mobile shopping apps both in terms of penetration (35%) and engagement (60 minutes per month). Snapdeal was second with a penetration of 20% and user engagement of 35 minutes a month. Amazon India Shopping, a recent launch from Amazon India, has quickly climbed up the ladder to reach the third spot with a reach of 17% and user time of 37 minutes per month.

According to an Ericsson Mobility report dated 16 June, the number of smartphone subscriptions is expected to reach over 750 million by 2020, up from 130 million in 2014. The continued growth in smartphone subscriptions will lead to an accelerated growth in data usage; monthly mobile data consumption is expected to increase 18-fold by 2020 over current levels. “Going forward, expect more personalization, fresh product features and a revamped home screen,” said Soni about Flipkart’s mobile app.

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