28 April, 2015

Should ecommerce firms kill the website?

Even as a debate rages about Flipkart's decision to be available to customers only through its mobile app by next year, a growing crop of startups is considering tracing the path charted by India's most valuable online retailer.

At least half-a-dozen startups said they are firming plans to channel efforts and marketing dollars entirely on their mobile applications. 

Among these are local services startups Zopper, Doormint and LocalOye; online-first restaurants Holachef and Spoonjoy; online dating startup Truly-Madly; and on-demand grocery delivery firm PepperTap. 

More startups are likely to follow, especially those providing repetitive hyper-local services such as food delivery and home services firms, as they rush to capture key real estate on smartphones even at the risk of losing some customers, according to startup founders and investors.

Large ecommerce firms such as Flipkart, Snapdeal, Quikr, Ola and Myntra get 70-80% of their traffic from mobile devices, a key factor influencing Internet companies and startups to consider being app-on .. 

India's smartphone market grew 54% to 140 million devices last year, and is expected to reach 651 million in four years and be the largest mobile-first Internet market, according to Cisco.

Grocery delivery firm Peppertap, which gets 87% of its orders through its mobile app, also plans to shut its website after expanding in 10 cities by the end of the year, said CEO Navneet Singh. "We can give out better offers, notifications and messaging to customers without being too intrusive through the app."