Within a few months of going app-only, making a select range of its product categories exclusive on smartphones, Flipkart has now launched a mobile website called Flipkart Lite. The move looks like an attempt to put the constant conflict between online website and mobile apps to rest.
Commenting on the matter, Peeyush Ranjan, head of engineering at Flipkart, said, “Websites push users to install the app. But only 4% of the people actually install the app. Flipkart doesn’t have a mobile website. So, we wanted to give the experience of a native application on a mobile website.”
The new mobile web application, is an extremely light version, and provides an app-like experience. It is designed for those who do not want to install apps owing to reasons like low storage capacity on the phone.
The eCommerce company partnered with Chrome and Opera to develop the site, and soon it will join hands with Firefox too. “We gave Chrome a list of functionalities, which if they supported, could help us create a web application that worked like a native application. Chrome was excited and worked with us for the past three months to enable this,” Ranjan said.
Flipkart Lite does not require any dedicated disk storage space and customers can experience one-touch home screen icon installation (instead of using the browser icon, you can simply use the Flipkart icon). It uses significantly less wireless data than apps.
As stated by Ranjan, 75% of its sales were accounted from its mobile application.”The number of transactions we see on mobile is increasing. If somebody comes to us through a link, there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to give them an app-like experience,” he maintained.
eCcommerce companies have been harping about higher retention rates on app-using customers, but it remains to be seen how it compares to the browser web experience, and whether consumers will choose one in particular over the other.
Flipkart’s fashion brand Myntra, which went app-only recently, hasn’t gone live with the Chrome experience yet, and may very well be next in line, along with other brands and businesses. In August, Kunal Behl of Snapdeal outrightly castigated Myntra’s app-only strategy as “the dumbest and the most consumer unfriendly idea ever”. In fact, he added that Myntra’s move actually gave a fillip to Snapdeal’s sales.