In May, e-commerce site Myntra went app-only, a year after it was acquired by Flipkart. Recently, Flipkart announced it would follow suit. While Myntra is a fashion site, Flipkart’s catalogue is more varied, and embraces books and electronics.
On Myntra, shoppers can no longer buy from desktop computers. They must download the app and buy on their phones or tablets. While Myntra’s announcement led to astonishment, Flipkart’s move hasn’t caught people unawares. But mixed feelings continue. Some, like the communications professional Puja, find the mobile app more convenient than the website. “It’s easy to browse and add items to my wishlist. Whatever I want to order is at my fingertips,” she says.
Content manager Anu Krishnan believes that going app-only is unwise. “Why do they assume everyone is app savvy? Or that everyone has the money to use up their Internet packs?” she asks. “They should retain the website for those who still use it because apps are so hard to navigate.”She believes apps can be slow, and especially taxing for regular online shoppers. Myntra, where 90 per cent traffic and 70 per cent sales came through the app even before the complete switch, reportedly lost about 10 per cent of sales after going app-only.
“70 to 75 per cent of Flipkart traffic was through the app. Though this seems an obvious trend, I really hope they have thought this through. Amazon has already overtaken them as the number one e-commerce site,” says Tripti Lochan, CEO of VML, which handles digital marketing for several companies, including Flipkart.
This model might work if the company’s target customers all live in Tier III cities, accessing the Internet only through their phones, she feels.
“And people like to have options; they don’t like anyone dictating to them how to shop,” Tripti explains. Indians are price-conscious and apps don’t lend themselves to comparison. “It might be okay for just buying after all the market research is done,” she adds.
Kunal Shah founder of Freecharge had posted on Facebook that most Indians with smartphones have around 20 apps, 15 of which come with the phone and can’t be deleted. People might have to delete and reinstall apps, depending on phone storage. “So if they don’t have the app, they simply pick another e-commerce portal,” Tripti says.
Anindita, an engineering student, prefers using her desktop for online shopping. “The screen is bigger and I don’t need to scroll,” she said. “But sometimes if I like a dress in Shoppers Stop, I check on the Flipkart app, and if it’s available, I order it right then on my phone.” Shubham, a third year graduate student, has noticed that the deals are better on the app. “The Flipkart app gives you some discounts that are not available on the website,” he said.