Myntra has shut down its website in favour of a mobile-only push. There has been growing speculation that Flipkart will do the same by the end of 2015. Sachin Bhansal, CEO, Flipkart had gone so far as to tweet, “If one does an unemotional financial and strategic analysis, mobile-only is obvious.”
Internet giant Google too began to favour mobile friendly websites in its latest round of algorithm update, as it rolled out Mobilegeddon. The new update is said to penalise websites that fail to offer a mobile (or tablet) friendly experience to users. Internet marketing blog Click-through Marketing says that as many as 40 per cent of websites fail to meet Google’s criteria for optimal user experience when viewed on a smart phone or tablet.
The broader question remains, whether it is inevitable that e-Commerce service providers will eventually move to mobile apps, or if cross-platform integration will remain key to market leadership.
Myntra reported that 70 per cent of its purchases were through mobile while Flipkart claims to have similar sales numbers on mobile, going by multiple news reports.
Anil K Nair, CEO and managing partner (digital), L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, too believes that the adoption ratio in certain youth and fashion catorgories is as high as 80:20 in favour of mobile.
A Morgan Stanley report states that 36 per cent of all online sales in India will be made via mobile in 2020 (up from 10 per cent in 2013), while about 80 per cent of all browsing may happen on mobile (9 per cent in 2013).
A BCG-IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) report dated January 2015 estimates that there will be over 500 million internet users in India by 2018, up from 190 million as of June 2014. The new 100 million users to come on board will be drastically different on multiple fronts, notes the report, including that over 80 per cent would be mobile-led.
Another report titled ‘Mobile Internet in India 2014’ by the IAMAI and IMRB International also released at the same time said the number of mobile internet users in India is expected to reach 213 million by June 2015, and that there were 173 million mobile internet users in December 2014.
With India having hit 987 million active mobile subscribers (end-March 2015), is it only a matter of time before mobile-only becomes the status quo?
Navin Kansal, former Grey Digital executive creative director, notes that mobile accounts for a bulk of the traffic today, making the case for shopping apps.
He explains, “With an app, you can optimise costs. In built within the framework of the smart phones are services that have accrued benefit. For example, you can have location-aware messaging. You can deploy functions like contacts and camera and calendar. So overall it helps improve the user experience. It keeps them engaged. If you look at it only from a medium perspective and look at it in terms of access to internet; mobile is far ahead of desktop.”
Kansal adds to this the perspective that customers tend to prefer desktop for the last mile of the purchase cycle. He says, “While mobile may see more repeat customers, it is still easier to re-market on desktop.”
For this reason, he believes that in the short term the desktop will not lose relevance just because of the nature of transacting on the medium.
Nair concludes by reminding us about the two Indias and the disparity in the country. He surmises, “We should not get completely lost in the wave. So even though mobile adoption is here to stay, I don’t know if it will kill the web. Consumer adoption of technology is prompting agencies and companies to move to this medium. We are not selling, we are adapting to it. So it is still in its nascent stages and there’s a lot of work that has to be done.”
(This article first appeared in the 15 May 2015 issue of Campaign India)