After running mobile-only festive season sale last year, online marketplace Flipkart dropped that approach for the three-day Republic Day sale that ended Friday. This time the company decided to run its sales through both desktop and mobile applications, which it claimed resulted in a 30% surge in traffic compared to a normal day.
Amazon that also ran a Republic Day sale said it witnessed a 70:30 traffic divide between its mobile and desktop platforms.
Since August last year, Flipkart’s discount-led sales such as Independence Day sale, Diwali sale, New Year sale, etc were limited to its mobile app only. However, as the pressure of becoming profitable mounts on all e-retailers, Flipkart has been taking steps to have more customers without shying away from desktop. During its Big Billion Day sale last year, Flipkart had sold goods worth $300 million, while managing to sell 10 lakh units within the first 10 hours on Day 1.
“Indian e-retail market is overwhelmingly mobile led with around 70% traffic coming from mobile devices. At Flipkart, we continue to follow the ‘Mobile First’ approach as majority of Indian customers shop only from mobile devices. We also have a base of customers who shop with us from the desktop. The Republic Day Sale this year is aimed at enabling both our mobile and desktop customers avail of exciting offers on products across categories,” Flipkart told FE in an email response.
A venture capital investor who did not wish to be named said, “It certainly is a reversal of philosophy on Flipkart’s part. This is a very interesting move. Why alienate users that are coming in through desktop? Users are buying more expensive products on desktop because of the amount of research they can do. More impulse purchase might happen on the mobile phone.”
According to a study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, a venture capital firm, India tops the list of countries selling through mobile. The report said over 40% of all e-commerce sales in 2014 happened over mobile in India.
All e-retailers have partnered with various companies such as Vizury, AppLift, etc to drive their app-installs and customer engagement on their app. The VC quoted above said, “Problem with mobile is that the customer engagement and acquisition cost is very high compared to desktop.”
Sachin Bansal, chairman of Flipkart, had said last year, “It’s not about whether we will be mobile only or not, but it’s the question of when we do that.”
Analysts, investors and entrepreneurs say this is not the time for adopting the mobile-only approach. “I do believe the traffic will slowly migrate to mobile as 3G and 4G networks become better, but this is not the right time for it,” said Ankita Tandon, COO, CouponDunia, an affiliate company that provides traffic to e-commerce players.