Chandrakant 'CK' Isi
09th Jul 2015
There's a saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". However, the Indian ecommerce website Flipkart doesn't seem to believe in that. Hailed as the biggest online retailer in India that sells everything from a fashion robes to refrigerators has decided to go mobile app only from September.
As a consumer, I mostly shop online. In last few years, I have bought many products such as books, phone, TV, refrigerator, AC, and apparels from Flipkart, Amazon, and Snapdeal. All the purchases have been made from a PC. I open the mobile app, when someone asks me "So which one did you buy"?
To give shopping apps a fair chance though, I decided to buy a shirt using app platform last week. The best thing about an app is the convenience of shopping on-the-go. However, like me, if you also research a lot, then on-the-go shopping is not a big plus.
After ordering the product from Flipkart's app, I know for sure that I could have done it a lot faster on my computer. On a desktop browser, you can view full size product images, check specs in one go, and read customer reviews without having to scroll a lot. And did I mention how annoying it is to check product filters in app interface? So the next time I'm ordering something, I'm going to use my computer. Apps are fine, I will go on using them to tell my friends what I bought.
Now looking at the business side of the things, it has been 10 months after fashion website Myntra.com shut its website. Considering that Myntra is owned by Flipkart, it was clearly used as a guinea pig to work strategy for Flipkart.
A report claims that before app only policy, about 95 percent of Myntra's traffic and 70 percent of its sales came from the mobile platform. On surface it seems simple. 95 percent traffic comes from the mobile platform so why bother with a website? Assuming these numbers are true they imply that 5 percent traffic from a website accounts for 30 percent in sales.
Till date, Myntra hasn't shared the numbers about the impact of its app only policy yet. However, IBTimes reports that Myntra's sales dropped 10 percent after shutting down the website.
In Flipkart's case, the decline would be much bigger since 25 percent of its traffic comes from the website. It is like abandoning 1/4th of your user base. And if these PC users are anything like Myntra users, sales will take a big dive.
Providing exclusive offers on apps is one way of promoting that platform. However, if Flipkart shuts down its website is favour of its app in September, I will turn to its competitors. Thankfully, Amazon and Snapdeal seems to be in their senses at least for now. Here's what a Snapdeal executive had to say on this topic:
"Our data shows that there are still many customers who use PCs to shop online. We do not want to force our customers to use one specific medium to shop on Snapdeal,"
And this one is from Amazon:
"We believe that as a consumer-obsessed company, we have to enable our customers to shop anytime, anywhere, and anyway they want,"
Goodbye Flipkart, I Like My Computer More Than You
Why I think Flipkart should not embrace the app only strategy.
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