Flipkart Mobile Move is Genius or Self-Destruction

In what one can only describe as stunning, India’s number one ecommerce website Flipkart is shutting down it’s desktop website and going mobile only (according to Indian Express and others)

Wow. The reason given is equally wow:

“India is gradually transitioning from a mobile first to a mobile only country… We are constantly experimenting with various aspects of our service to create the best shopping experience for our users on our app…,” Flipkart said in a statement.

This is a bold bet. There is the fact that most mobile users use devices to game or as the WSJ puts it “43% of our time is spent catapulting angry birds at pigs and fighting monsters”. This infographic from the same piece shows how we divide our time on these devices:

Mobile Device Usage

Source: WSJ

So where does shopping fit in exactly? Well, it doesn’t. Flipkart execs are correct to point out mobile represents most of ecommerce traffic these days (Shopify puts it at 50% as opposed to Flipkarts 75%). But as Tobi Lutke points out in the same article, the transition from desktop to mobile is far from complete:

We also began to work closely with major mobile operating system providers to try to address a current shortcoming of mobile: conversion rate. While the majority of online store traffic now comes from mobile, the majority of purchases still happen using computers.

So Flipkart are extremely early on this shuttering the desktop website. However who really knows, perhaps this will be a prescient move that gives them an edge over the likes of Amazon who essentially birthed the concept of desktop based ecommerce? Maybe India being a developing, mobile first country will prove this? Time wil tell but if you’re an ecommerce merchant, I wouldn’t rush in their footsteps.

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