Flipkart’s app-only experiment was way ahead of its time

Website or app—what would you pick?
Website or app—what would you pick?
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

In 2015, when India’s e-commerce posterboy Flipkart decided to shut its mobile website and go app-only, its American rival Amazon raced ahead to become India’s most-visited e-commerce site. While the company relaunched its mobile app within a few months, many analysts still consider it as the biggest mistake that Flipkart ever made.

But if recent data are to be believed, apps are now a hot favourite for online shoppers in India.

Over 80% of buyers surveyed in India now prefer using apps over mobile browsers to shop on phones, compared to the global average of around 70%, according to a report published by payments technology firm Worldpay on March 05.

At an average of 10 downloads per mobile phone, India’s thriving app market beats those in the US and UK where the average downloads are seven, the report added. Indians downloaded 12.1 billion apps last year, dethroning the US’s app economy (11.3 billion downloads).

For the study, Worldpay polled 16,000 consumers from Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, the US, and the UK who shopped through their mobile phones in the last three months. Over 1,500 of the respondents were from India.

“The fact is that while India took longer to catch on to smartphone ownership, its citizens are now among the earliest adopters of a whole range of technologies,” said Phil Pomford, the Asia-Pacific general manager for global enterprise e-commerce at Worldpay. ”Capturing this emerging class of luxury mobile shoppers depends upon providing a comfortable and convenient mobile payment journey.”

Getting the app experience right can yield handsome rewards for e-tailers. After all, according to the Worldpay report, one in three Indians spent more than Rs4,000 ($62) on their last purchase.