Flipkart has resumed selling goods over its mobile website, less than a year after having stopped doing so. At the time, Flipkart owned Myntra had also shut down its mobile website, which continues to remain app only. This development was first spotted by ET.
Interestingly, when going app only on mobile, Myntra said it was already generating more than 90% of its traffic and 70% of its orders from its mobile app. In May, Flipkart had claimed that 95% of its traffic and 70% of its transactions were coming via mobile. In August, Flipkart started pushing certain items on its platform as app only and carried out its big billion sale app only this year. However, as we had pointed out before, going app only was probably too early given the fact that the mobile internet penetration in India, coupled with low end devices and limited space, are still considered as roadblocks, despite the growing smartphone penetration.
Slick new web app: Flipkart’s website is now back up on mobile in a new web app format. The web app format enables the company to deliver tighter integration and app like experience without actually installing an app. Users can even add a shortcut on the homescreen just like any app. However, web apps are new and its protocol is not universally accepted by all browsers. In fact, when trying it out, we could only get the website to open on Chrome, with Firefox and AdBlock browser both redirecting to the Play store link.
With that out of the way, Flipkart’s mobile website is certainly one of the most well designed websites out there. Even the color theme goes from yellow dominant on the desktop, to a pleasant blue on the mobile website. Unlike the desktop website, the page doesn’t display tons of listings, instead offering a simple search box with a ‘pull-up’ menu of categories. However, despite its good looks, the search is a bit lacking as it does not auto suggest items when typing.
MediaNama’s Take: As we have pointed out before, when Myntra went app only, web based channels of promotion largely end up being about customer acquisition for each transaction. Unless users signup and login (not something users actually like doing), there’s really no means of reaching out to them, and driving repeat usage.
With an app only approach, much of the communication involves driving app installs, which could potentially lead to many transactions, and hence potentially reduce the cost per transaction. With the user always signed in, companies can personalize promotions because they have access to the user’s location, and more importantly, their phone book.
There are risks to taking such an approach, because the number of apps that people keep on their mobile is limited, given that the space available for handsets, and the way the cache tends to fill up, is also limited. There is a significant propensity to uninstall apps. A web app is a nice way to work around the problem, it offers some control over the smartphone like apps, while not requiring an installation. However, even web apps come with their own set of problems.
Note that, at Myntra’s app only event in May, Sachin Bansal, co-Founder & CEO of Flipkart had declined to comment on the impact on margins for going app only, saying it was too early to conclude how the margins would settle. He said then that the mobile web experience wasn’t as good and that made their decision to switch from mobile web to app easier.