BENGALURU: When Myntra did it, it was a highly controversial move. But less than two months after the fashion e-tailer switched to an app-only strategy, parent company and India’s largest online retailer Flipkart too has decided to morph into an app-only player.
The company’s chief product officer Punit Soni informed employees at a town hall meeting last week that Flipkart will operate with only a mobile app from September, said sources familiar with the development.
Flipkart’s planned phase-out of its web presence indicates phenomenal traction among Indian consumers to make purchases through the mobile app thanks to exponential growth of smartphones and mobile internet.
The app also allows e-tailers to create personalized shopping experiences for consumers by understanding their location, preferences and purchase patterns, something that’s not possible to do to the same extent on the web.
When TOI asked Flipkart about the September plan, the company did not deny it. It said, “India is gradually transitioning from a mobile first to a mobile only country. At Flipkart, we have been following a mobile first approach and 70%-75% of our total traffic is already coming from our mobile app. We are constantly experimenting with various aspects of our service to create the best shopping experience for our users on our app. Meanwhile, we continue to offer both desktop as well as mobile option for our customers.”
Flipkart has 45 million registered users clocking over 10 million daily visits, and expects to more than double the gross merchandise value (GMV) of the products it sells on its platform to $8 billion this year.The company raised $2 billion in 2014-15, and it was valued at $11 billion in its last round of funding.
Ravi Gururaj, chairman of the Nasscom Product Council, said smartphones are omnipresent in the consumer’s palms and allow a vastly superior, more secure and highly personalized user experience when incorporating elements like seamless user authentication (via one-time password, biometric scanners), rapid payments via digital wallets, presence (via GPS, NFC and beacon sensors), real time push notifications, and the ability to invoke cameras for discovery interactions.
“All of these capabilities are simply not available or easy to implement on landlocked’ desktops. Large platform players will realize he benefits of adopting a less-is-more approach since ewer internal IT systems need to be built, tested, supported and maintained in he future,” he said.
Myntra, which Flipkart acquired last year, is said to have seen a 10% decline in sales in the immediate aftermath of its going app-only. But it was confident of making that up in the following weeks. Myntra had said that prior to abandoning its website, 90% of traffic and 70% of sales came from the mobile platform.
Myntra’s move was controversial and many analysts weren’t convinced by Myntra’s explanation of the move. But Flipkart’s decision to go the same way indicates that the two companies are clear that it’s better o focus fully on what they believe is the future and not fritter resources and mindshare on a channel that looks destined to become irrelevant, if not die — at least or online retail.