Flipkart would move to an app-only format within a year, a senior executive said, confirming growing speculation that India's largest e-commerce platform would follow the route announced for unit Myntra.
"Last year, we had more on the app, but still did our web and desktop. In the next year or so, we're going to be only mobile," said Michael Adnani, vice-president, retail and head of brand alliances, Flipkart. "A year ago, 6% of our traffic was coming from mobile. In less than 18 months, that traffic is 10-fold. That shows the significance of what a mobile phone is doing for the consumers and consequently doing for us," he said.
As the rate of transactions mirrored that of traffic increase on the app, Flipkart's move to app-only platform makes sense, Adnani added. Flipkart has more than 40 million registered users and has about 30,000 merchants selling over 20 million products on the platform.
India is the third-largest internet market in the world with more than 243 million users, trailing China and the US in that order. Boston Consulting Group expects more than 580 million people in India to use the internet by 2018, 70-80% of them accessing the web on mobile phones.
Smartphones have also become far more affordable, compared with a couple of years ago, and 6-7 million of them being brought into India for local sale. Going by the numbers, an app's consumer reach will be larger than the mobile version of a website or the website itself.
Flipkart does about 8 million shipments a month, and two-thirds of its online traffic comes from users in small cities and towns. Flipkart's app-only direction assumes larger significance in these places where most people don't own desktop computers and have limited access to broadband.
Adnani said Myntra's growth on the app was higher than that of Flipkart, which led the online fashion retailer to decide to shut down its website and move all operations to its app starting May 1. Flipkart had acquired Myntra last year for Rs 2,000 crore.