Chandrakant 'CK' Isi
16th Mar 2015
Last week, looking to purchase a backpack, I turned to online shops. Usually, I browse the products on my phone and place order from PC. Websites pushing their apps is nothing new, but a few days ago I realised that it is getting increasingly annoying.
Not sure what I'm talking about? Visit any popular e-commerce website such as Flipkart, Amazon, and Snapdeal from your phone. Rather than letting you shop, these mobile websites nag you with 'Upgrade to the App' banner. If you refuse to download the app, you have to fight your way through pop-ups to shop.
If that wasn't bad enough, Flipkart and Myntra (owned by Flipkart) have recently discontinued their mobile websites. The companies are dictating what a customer should do. That's the sole reason why I decided not to buy a backpack from either of these shops. If apps are superior than websites, why not keep both the options and let the customers decide what's better. I tweeted my concern to Flipkart and Myntra. The conversation is embedded below:
I don't mind downloading apps if they offer more options than a website. It is worth checking out a list of app "benefits" claimed by some e-commerce players:
1. Shake your phone for offers (so useful, right?).
2. Track/cancel your orders.
3. Short-list products (eh?).
4. Checkout cool offers which maximise your savings.
The last point is pure hogwash. And the rest of the features work perfectly on a mobile browser. Basically, there's no significant advantage in using the app. This is the reason why shopping websites don't mind offering cash discounts of Rs 50 - 150.
One may wonder why these mobile apps are being promoted so aggressively. The way I see it, customers are less likely to compare prices on competing websites when using the app. Plus, next time a shopper fires-up the app instead of a browser, loyal customers are in the making. On the other hand, be it Chrome, IE mobile, or Safari, users can open multiple tabs to find the best deal. That's enough to get these companies nervous.
If deteriorating/blocking mobile websites to force apps on us is their strategy, then as a customer I will see to it that I find an alternate e-shop. No, I'm not considering the brick-and-mortar stores as an option unless they stop treating MRP (Maximum Retail Price) as ideal retail price.
Dear Online Shops, Stop Forcing Your Apps On Us
Apps are superior to websites? Let customers decide that.
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