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India not ready for app-only stores

News, 14 July 2015

NEW DELHI: Flipkart and Myntra are among the Indian ecommerce businesses that regard a mobile app-only approach as the best way forward but the sector's trade association has cautioned against abandoning older platforms.

"We think app is the way to go but it shouldn't be the only medium," stated Nasir Jamal, secretary general of the eCommerce Association of India, in remarks reported by the Economic Times.

He said that "a considerable number of people still shop on their desktops", not least because the costs involved in using the mobile internet are high compared to placing orders via PC or laptop.

He further pointed out that when Myntra went app-only in May, "it reported a dip of about 10% in sales in the first month".

That has not stopped Flipkart, owner of Myntra, from planning to take a similar step later this year. In a statement last week it said that "70-75% of our total traffic is already coming from our mobile app" and declared that "India is gradually transitioning from a mobile-first to a mobile-only country".

A recent PwC study suggested that more than half of ecommerce orders were being placed via mobile apps, "which is not only leading to substantial customer acquisition but also building customer loyalty for various brands".

An important factor in this development is that the app is always on, removing the need to log in to a website.

The founder of Bizongo, a B2B e-commerce platform, said this enabled real-time, organic transactions and engagement. "Organic engagement is a powerful tool, you can't do away with that," he said.

Many start-ups – and despite its size Flipkart is still defined as one – are app-only as it is often simpler to focus time and money on a single platform. But there are practical issues for users, who can see the available memory on lower end smartphones rapidly devoured by a variety of apps.

As the Huffington Post pointed out, for the average consumer, online shopping is not a daily activity and they are likely to prefer to allocate limited memory to social networking and messaging apps they use every day.

Data sourced from Economic Times, Huffington Post; additional content by Warc staff