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E-comm app only: To be or not to be?

India’s ecommerce poster boy Flipkart has put its app-only transformation on hold until it gains clarity on sales of big-ticket category products such as furniture on back of skepticism expressed by retailers, according to news by a local daily.

Following Myntra’s app-only approach, Flipkart had announced that it will follow suit from September but industry insiders told the daily that the project may not take-off in September.

Pratap Bose, Managing Director and Chairman of The Social Street reiterated his earlier opinion and said, “Going app-only may not be the wisest option for an all-ecompassing ecommerce platform such as Flipkart because of the large variety of product it is selling.”

At the time of the announcement of its app-only strategy Flipkart had released an official statement and said, “India is gradually transitioning from a mobile first to a mobile only country. We are constantly experimenting with various aspects of our service to create the best shopping experience for our users on our app.”

Despite the buzz around the mobile internet consumers in India, internet connectivity continues to be a critical issue for Tier II and Tier III cities and marketing pundits expect that the app-only approach may cause a dip in the sales up to 40 per cent.

“Right now, India is not ready to choose either mobile or desktop as a significant chunk of people access ecommerce site from work which is primarily through PC and not mobile. We need a market environment where both – mobile and PC co-exist as mobile-only approach requires a completely different set of analytics and a different ecosystem,” said Avinash Jhangiani, Managing Director of Digital and Mobility at Omnicom Media Group.

“Ecommerce platforms should look forward to a data-only strategy instead of an app-only strategy. Investment in mobile and technology is going to be critical going forward,” he added.

Mr Bose further added that the move is not only causing jitters for the big-ticket categories such as furniture, electronic appliances or other consumer durables, but may be detrimental for all other categories too if the consumer is looking for a holistic experience while making an online purchase.

Besides the usual skepticism towards app-only move, Flipkart does not want to take such a huge business risk at a time when the shopping season is on its peak. Initiating in a month’s time and travelling through Diwali and Christmas, Flipkart does not want to face challenges related to bugs on the platform or drop in the sales during the shopping season, according to Mr Jhangiani.

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