Flipkart moves towards becoming app-only platform

Apart from being able to offer a more personalized shopping experience than websites, mobile apps allow companies to save costs


Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

Bengaluru: India’s largest e-commerce firm Flipkart Ltd and its unit Myntra have both shut their mobile websites in their first big move toward becoming a mobile app-only shopping platform.

Mint first reported on 4 March that Flipkart was considering shutting its mobile site as well as its desktop-based website to move sales entirely to the mobile app.

Spokespersons for Flipkart and Myntra confirmed that the companies had shut their mobile websites. The desktop-based sites are still functional though both companies are considering shutting them over time, two people familiar with the matter said.

“Over the past year we have come to believe that we can serve our users much better through our apps simply due to the flexibility it offers. With the app, customers can stay logged in to Flipkart at all times. This helps them save time and get smoother and faster checkouts. Our app is designed to work relatively well even in low bandwidth conditions compared to the m-site,” the Flipkart spokesperson said by email.

Myntra already generates more than 90% of its traffic and 70% of its orders from its mobile app, said Prasad Kompalli, head of its ecommerce platform.

“The app is the best way of offering a seamless, personalized shopping experience to the consumer. We don’t want to compromise on the customer experience, so we’ve shut the mobile website. Going forward, we will be launching many innovations on the app that will make the shopping experience even more seamless and personalized,” Kompalli said.

He confirmed that Myntra may shut its desktop-based website, too.

“Mobile and desktop websites are increasingly becoming more and more irrelevant and Indian consumers have showed that they are adopting the app way faster than consumers in the US and even China,” he said.

Apart from being able to offer a more personalized shopping experience than websites, mobile apps allow companies to save costs on deploying people and technology on other platforms. Apps also enable companies to advertise and market to customers more accurately than websites, collect more detailed user data and potentially increase customer loyalty.

“Some firms have stopped investing in the website and put all their technology resources behind the app,” said Harminder Sahni, managing director at Wazir Advisors, a consultancy. “This only increases the gap between the superior experience on the app versus the website. So it’s better to shut down the site rather than lose customers because of a shoddy website offering. The move will also force people to download their app if they haven’t already. I think it is the right decision over the long-term.”

Although most of the country’s online retailers, including Snapdeal and Amazon, get a majority of their traffic from the mobile, Flipkart has taken the lead toward becoming an app-only shopping platform.

Over the past few months, Flipkart and Myntra both launched initiatives to shift shoppers toward their apps, including giving app-only discounts and offers.

Earlier this month Flipkart hired former Google Inc. executive Punit Soni as head of products, partly to accelerate its push into mobile commerce and move sales away from web browser-based platforms.

Flipkart is in advanced talks to buy mobile marketing technology firm DSYN Technologies, Mint reported on 12 March. DSYN’s product Appiterate helps clients increase downloads of their mobile apps and drive higher spending on apps by targeting users more efficiently.

There is data to support Flipkart’s move toward becoming app-only: India is expected to have more than 500 million Internet users by 2018 from roughly 200 million currently, and a majority of these users will access the Internet on their smartphones, according to estimates by analysts. However, in a market as competitive as India’s it is far from clear whether Flipkart can risk losing any kind of sales, however small, to rivals by being absent from any consumer-facing platform.

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