You must own a smartphone with Internet if you want to shop online

At a time when online fashion retailer Myntra is planning to shut down its website and concentrate only on mobile app mode of operations, the big question of the hour is : Would online retailers do away with their websites and focus on mobile-app only?

After speaking to half-a-dozen startups, The Economic Times found that the new entrants plan to channel efforts and marketing dollars entirely on their mobile applications.

Among the ones ET spoke to 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.

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-only platforms, the ET news report confirms. Flipkart and its fashion affiliate Myntra began the trend by shutting their mobile websites and relying instead on their apps to encourage repeated use and to push targeted discounts and notifications.

Yet exception is there to prove the rule. Quikr is still not keen on shutting down web operation. "Mobile is clearly the most important channel for us, but for our business, which has a lot of customers in rural India, the browser is important as well," founder and CEO Pranay Chulet told the financial daily.

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.

As a reflection of this market growth, Ola, India's largest taxi-hailing company, saw cab bookings through its mobile app double in the past 12 months. In contrast, its "website as a source of bookings has been negligible, as 80% of the bookings come through the app and around 20% through the call centre", Anand Subramanian, director of marketing communication at Ola, which registered more than 2 lakh rides a day in January told the ET.

(Image: Reuters)