158 million people! That is the number of app users in India. Second only to US in the usage of shopping apps. Enough to make you think about sabotaging your mobile website and to push your mobile app like Myntra did. With 90% of it’s traffic and 80% of its sales already coming from mobile, going app only was a better bet for Myntra. They made the transition seamless by giving better deals while purchasing from the app and by withdrawing the mobile website. It also looked logical from Flipkart’s end to experiment in m-commerce with its $300 million worth acquisition rather than taking a half chance with its sole business which is valued at 12.5 bn. There can be an initial dip in sales, but with already 9 million app downloads, the move certainly looks brilliant. But would that mean you should also do the same? May be not. Let’s consider a few factors that would work for Myntra and might not for yours.
1. What industry you are on to?
In fashion buying decisions are usually not premeditated. They are often sudden and impulsive. With the app pushing notifications of its new products with catchy new designs and huge discounts, Myntra is actually ‘creating a need’ in customers mind even if such a need never really exists. Fashion is one of the very few industries where this would work. Lets take the example of Extravelmoney.com which deals with foreign exchange. For a product like Forex to be sold, the need really has to exist and can never be created. If your product falls in the same line where the product can only be introduced, the advantage of influencing the customer doesn’t have life. In such cases, a mobile website would bring you more business via search queries.
2. How big is your current user base?
Myntra and Flipkart earlier also did well with influencing the customer through google and Facebook remarketing which showed repeated ads to the customer when they visited a product. But for every impression they had to pay Google or Facebook. When relying more on the transaction volume rather than the margins, this expense would have been huge. Today Myntra has more than 9 million app downloads and they are targeting another 5 million. They would have absolutely zero spending on Google or Facebook to reach these customers. Now, if your business is in the early stages, and your user base has just started to build up, you can never take advantage of this zero-cost advertising opportunity. Moreover promoting a website is easier compared to app.
3. How frequent would your app be used?
Take the example of Jiffstore, an m-commerce platform which lets you buy groceries from nearest kirana stores. Think about grocery, its something people are looking to buy every day. An app would be the perfect choice here. With the same delivery address and almost the same purchase list, placing the order would be a matter of few minutes. Now, if you are selling something which your users require less frequently, would they really take the pain in keeping your app which would any way eat up the smartphone resources is worth considering. It is likely that they would get rid of the app soon.
4. Google or Facebook? Which is your major traffic source?
It is obvious that marketing an app doesn’t work the same way as marketing a website. Both requires altogether different strategies. If you have already invested in SEO and are ranking well, scraping your mobile website means all your efforts are in vain. If you have been relying on Facebook, switching to app would be a lot more easier. However, suggesting the app rather than forcing it would be a good idea.
5. Do you really intend to use the smartphone features?
You might not have noticed this while installing the Flipkart app. The app has access to your camera and you might be wondering why? It has a barcode reader which uses the camera. Similarly if you are on to hyper local commerce, access to GPS would really help in logistics. Having said this, if you have no intentions of making use of the possibilities of a smartphone, and you are just planning to make your website appear in the app, it’s better to stick on to the web version.
App without doubt is the future. An abrupt transition can bring damages though. Multi-device experience might be the way forward.
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