Flipkart will shut down website within a year; Myntra to be app-only from 1 May

Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart will shut down its website within a year whereas its fashion retail website Myntra will become app-only entity from May 1.

Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart will shut down its website within a year whereas its fashion retail website Myntra will become app-only entity from May 1. According a senior executive quoted in The Times of India, Flipkart will move to an app-only format within a year.

Michael Adnani, vice president (retail and head of brand alliances) at Flipkart said that although last year despite getting more app users, Flipkart continued to be on the web platform, next year it would be mobile only. "A year ago, 6% of our traffic was coming from mobile. In less than 18 months, that traffic is 10-fold. That shows the significance of what a mobile phone is doing for the consumers and consequently doing for us," he told the newspaper.

Flipkart becoming an app-only platform has been speculated before as well. Earlier in a report in Mint, sources in Flipkart had hinted that the website would be shutting down. According to the 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.

This move isn't surprising considering the response the apps are getting from consumers. Just to give an example, Myntra, the online fashion retailer which was acquired by Flipkart, has around 90% traffic and 70% of orders coming from its mobile app.

According to Prasad Kompalli, head of Myntra's ecommerce platform, while seamless shopping experience is one aspect of a mobile e-commerce app, the other advantage include 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.

Flipkart has around 40 million registered users and around 30,000 merchants selling over 20 million products online. According to the TOI report, Boston Consulting Group expects more than 580 million people in India to be online by 2018 out of which 70-80% will be accessing the web through their phones only. That's a huge market to tap for mobile apps, since a majority of this population will not be able to afford a desktop to log on to the Flipkart website to shop.

According to Adnani, Myntra's growth on the app has been higher than Flipkart which has lead the company to decide to shut down the web operations by May 1 and all transactions going forward will happen only on the Myntra app.

Recently, Flipkart was caught in the middle of a storm after news reports emerged that it was going to be part of the Airtel Zero marketing platform - which lets app developers pay for consumers' data usage charges, provided they are using the said developer's app. Flipkart which was initially supposed to be a partner in the Airtel Zero program, later withdrew support following backlash from netizens, who went to the Play Store and downvoted the Flipkart app to 1 star rating. Many thousands of users even uninstalled the Flipkart app. While the net neutrality debate is still on, Airtel has refused to back down from its Airtel Zero platform.

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