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Flipkart, Myntra shut down their mobile websites and push to app-only model


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Flipkart and Myntra, India’s largest e-commerce players, have shut down their mobile websites and users are now redirected to Google’s Play Store and iOS’ App Store to download the application. However it is interesting to note that the mobile website is active on the Symbian operating system for older Nokias.

Flipkart mobile

Left: The mobile website redirect on Android. Right: the mobile website on the Symbian OS

Livemint also adds that this is part of Flipkart’s larger strategy to become an app-only platform and is also considering shutting down its desktop website and is going to shut down Myntra’s desktop website soon. The report also added that Myntra already generates more than 90% of its traffic and 70% of its orders from its mobile app.

It will be interesting to see if its competitors, Amazon and Snapdeal,  will go the same way and shift completely to mobile. We Are Social’s report had some interesting statistics on desktop usage too and points out that almost 13% of the Indian population use PC/Laptops to research on eCommerce site, while 14% actually purchase via desktops/laptops.According to the survey, 72% of Indian population use mobile to search for a website while only 27% use desktop/laptop.

Our take

While we accept that mobile will become increasingly the way forward for internet companies in India, it doesn’t make good sense to shut down a mobile website. Take for example Cleartrip which said that mobile web accounted for 20% of the hotel bookings on handheld devices. Android accounted for 56% while iOS accounted for 24%. Granted that the number put out by Cleartrip is a smaller than the other two operating system, but it is still significant.

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It would also seem that moving to an app-only model would limit a user’s ability to compare prices on other competitors websites. Something that won’t go down well in a price-sensitive market such as India. The sentiment seems to echo on Twitter too.

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  • Riya Singh

    http://www.GetAbhi.com should be tried. It has exclusive party wear shirts and modi jackets which other sites don’t have.

  • abhorrence

    Thankfully Amazon has more business acumen and concern for its customer needs than to shoehorn in such a thing. It was infuriating with Flipkart and Myntra that both mobile sites would pop up unskippable ads for their app and any interaction leads you to your respective app store. Compare that to Amazon that loads its mobile site (Order of magnitude better than both Flipkart and Myntra) and gives you a small, non-invasive prompt to download their app. It’s the user’s discretion as to whether they wish to skip it or install. They do show a banner ad for their app but that does not take away from the functionality and usability, something that is more than welcomed.

    Also, forcing a desktop version on my S2 (JB 4.1.2, stock browser) loads the mobile site. So there’s that, if anyone is curious.

  • Neetish

    crazy, considering that majority of India are using low end mobiles with serious space limitations.

  • sketharaman

    As a consumer, I hate companies telling me how to shop. But, as a marketer, I know that there are merits to that approach. Without joining the debate on whether Flipkart – and Myntra and UBER – are doing the right or wrong thing by taking a mobile-app-only approach, I see their strategy being challenged by friction hotspots at later stages of the purchase funnel. Let me take just one example to explain what I mean: When I tried visiting http://www.myntra.com from my smartphone browser, the resultant screen betrayed Myntra’s lack of knowledge about whether the said smartphone had the Myntra mobile app installed on it or not. Instead, it displayed a button asking me if I had the app and wanted to go to it. When I tapped it from a smartphone that did have the app, I was not taken to the mobile app but to the home page of Play Store. The same thing happened when I tapped the same button from another smartphone that did not have the mobile app installed on it. I see a lot of abandonment at this stage. Unless these companies crack the intricacies involved with linking mobile web and mobile apps into a seamless end-to-end journey, their mobile app only strategy could just backfire.

  • Don’t know what data some “growth hacker” used to convince management about shutting down mobile sites. This misses a lot of use cases where user:

    – Doesn’t want to install all kinds of apps on their phone
    – Doesn’t want to get all sort of pesky notifications on their phone
    – Has a low end android phone with space limitations
    – Want to share a link for an item with their parents who can easily click on link and browse it but don’t know how to install an app
    – Want to share a link for an item with someone who’s on a slow network for time being and can’t download the app for just viewing one link
    – Is using a temporary mobile and doesn’t want to download apps on it

    There must be other use cases as well – these are just of few on top of my head.

    The only valid reason for forcing app down customers’ throats is ability to send push notifications about flash sales, hourly discounts etc. Again that’s a bad UX as notifications are opt-in by default. I’m sure there is some App store/Play store policy violation in it.

    • IndiaNama

      And yet, Myntra tells a 90/70 story, and these guys have the inside numbers on their traffic and sales, wouldn’t you say? Are you suggesting that the Bansal collective is so stupid that they’re turning away business because of what they read on Medianama, i.e., mobile is the future?

      I’m inclined to think that the lack of comparison capability on mobile plays a part in driving this move. If it becomes too much of a hassle, people might lock-in and stick with one app.

      Let’s remember that these guys are all marketplaces, so they’re not setting the price. If shopkeeper X lists on SnapDeal, FlipKart and Amazon, she’s likely to set the same price. So as the marketplaces move away from all these discounts that are appear to cause so much butt hurt, it’s going to come down to ease of use, search, and fulfillment. It then makes sense to focus on one platform and compete on that.

  • Vinod Lathe

    I think it wouldn’t be a good decision & flipkart will reverse it. Because customer wouldn’t carry shopping app in his low end smartphone.

  • Naman Agrawal

    Hi, any ideas on the URLs which were ranking in Search Engines and the traffic these sites were attaining due to this ??

  • Pooja Jain

    its a really bad idea. while working, I cant take out my mobile to browse, i browse on my desktop. also, i prefer not to have too many apps as i dont want my mobile to be cluttered. I dont like my cell phone to act like a browser-gone-bad with ads popping up all the time. also i like to see my shopping list on a big screen. even with my 4.5 inch mobile its not enough. lastly, where is the option of comparison if i cannot open multiple windows and compare in peace? oh yes, i also dont like to squint my eyes to look at the little screen all the time, mobile is good for quick socializing, not good for serious shopping (or even serious socializing ;).