Flipkart to become app-only platform; to shut down mobile website

While Myntra is expected to shut down its desktop-based website by the year end, Mint reports that Flipkart may be following suit.

Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart and its fashion-etailer Myntra have both decided to shut down their mobile websites. While Myntra is expected to shut down its website by the year end, Mint reports that Flipkart may be following suit.

According to a report in Mint, people familiar with the matter have told the paper that Flipkart is considering shutting down its website over time to make it an app-only platform. According to a Flipkart spokesperson, the app has gained relevance because it allows the users to stay logged in all the time and also the shopping is quicker with faster checkouts as compared to the website.

As one may have noticed over the last couple of months, Flipkart and Myntra both have announced lots of app-only discount sale days.  This is clearly a move to test the waters and it seems like the numbers are talking. According to Prasad Kompalli, head of Myntra ecommerce platform, around 90% of traffic and 70% of orders on Myntra are from its mobile app. No wonder, Myntra is p0ndering migrating to a mobile app platform only. No such numbers were available for Flipkart.

While seamless shopping experience is one aspect of a mobile e-commerce app, the other advantage is saving on costs. Maintaining a website, advertising and reaching out to consumers on the web platform is a tedious process whereas on an app-platform, things are relatively more focussed. Collecting relevant user data and targetted marketing is easier on the app than on the website according to people familiar with the matter.

According to Kompalli, Myntra will be launching new innovations on the app in the future to make shopping a more seamless and personalised experience. He said that the rate at which Indian consumers are adopting shopping on the app, is faster than even the US and China.

It looks like Flipkart is betting big on the internet user growth, expected to reach 500 million by 2018 as compared to around 200 million today according to analysts, who will get online via their smartphones. And using an app to reach this audience makes more sense than a mobile website.

Flipkart's rivals Snapdeal and Amazon too have apps, but none of them have spoken about switching to an app only platform. It seems like Flipkart wants to make a start in that direction. Whether that will be a smart choice is anyone's guess. At the moment, it seems too early for Flipkart to get rid of its website. A lot of users still access or shop on e-commerce websites only via the web platform. The reasons can range from slower data connectivity on phones to hesitation with using your debit card/credit card information on your mobile phone. Flipkart's absence from the desktop may also give that share of the market to its rivals.

It is still early days, but the fact that Flipkart could become an app-only platform is not difficult to forsee.

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