Monday 13 July 2015

Flipkart adopts app-only approach

India's largest ecommerce firm Flipkart will operate only through a mobile app from September and the bold move is being viewed by marketers as a potentially game-changing strategy.

Leading industry insiders told Digital Market Asia that it means Flipkart will be able to bring down its costs substantially and, by saving on trying to drive traffic to its website, it could create new revenue streams on the app.

They said the initiative also recognises the huge growth of smartphone adoption and mobile shopping in India and that consumers are increasingly accessing brands via mobile platforms.

"It is a futuristic, ahead of the curve move that will help it manage costs effectively," said Ranjoy Dey, head of digital at Havas Media India. "If the brand can make a cut in even one of the platforms, it will bring down costs substantially."

"The move is a testament to realisation that everyone is connected with mobile internet and mobile gives better penetration for the platform," said Sanjay Tripathy, senior executive evp of marketing, product, digital and ecommerce at HDFC Life.

"Concentrating all efforts towards one platform will help Flipkart come under the category of an elite strategy profile. Flipkart will be able to save on the money it is spending to driving traffic to its website … and through the app-only approach the platform can also create an ad network and generate a new revenue model."

Flipkart said in a statement that "India is gradually transitioning from a mobile first to a mobile only country" and that up to 75% of its total traffic already comes from its mobile app.

The company has experimented before with a mobile-only approach when Myntra, its online fashion portal subsidiary, closed down its desktop website in May.

"Flipkart's management utilised Myntra as a beta for the mobile first strategy," explained Pratap Bose, chairman of The Social Street, a digital marketing agency.

"Myntra was able to continue selling through their mobile app. Keeping the success of Myntra in mind, Flipkart has also announced the same for itself."

He added that other major ecommerce players in India, such as Amazon and Snapdeal, are sure to watch developments closely to ensure they are not left behind.

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