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Between 'mobile-first' or 'mobile-only', Flipkart chooses mid way

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While debates on adopting a mobile-first strategy or completely ditching a website for an app remains rage on, e-commerce major Flipkart has come up with an innovative solution — ‘ Flipkart Lite’.
Flipkart, which had killed its mobile website in favour of a standalone application, has re-launched a mobile version of its website, which gives users an experience close to that of its mobile app.
Known as ‘Flipkart Lite’ the new web application gives an app-like experience without having to download the app.
“Introducing Flipkart Lite: a new kind of mobile app. It’s web yet native. It’s superfast, doesn’t need installing,” Punit Soni, chief product officer, Flipkart tweeted along with a video on how Flipkart Lite works.
With this web app, users who log into using a mobile phone and the latest Chrome and Opera browsers will see the new Flipkart web application. The web app can simply be added to mobile’s homescreen without actually downloading the app. The categories– Electronics, Home & appliances, Lifestyle, Automotive and Books & more — are neatly lined up and gives no less than an app experience.

Flipkart has partnered with Google to build the mobile website.
Flipkart, lately, has been in news on its move to shut down its website as it increasingly embraces a mobile-only strategy and sees over 75 per cent of traffic coming via mobiles. Infact, the relaunch of its mobile site comes just a couple of weeks after its Big Billion Days sale, which was also an app-only affair.
In September this year, PTI had reported that Flipkart’s Chief Product Officer Punit Soni told employees at a “town hall” meeting that the site would operate only with a mobile app from September, which the company had denied later on.
“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 had said in a statement at the time.
“At Flipkart, we have been following a mobile first approach and 70-75 per cent of our total traffic is already coming from our mobile app,” it added.
While mobile apps give a better user experience, they also have limitations. For instance, the app needs to be updated constantly and many users drop out in the process. Apps also take up more space on a device and in countries like India, users tend to uninstall apps that take up space.
In an interview with Indiaretailing earlier in the year, Ashish Jhalani, Founder at eTailing India and Indian School of eBusiness (ISeB), explained why going app-only is not a smart move. “I do not think that going completely a mobile app way is correct, given the nascency of the Indian e-commerce market. The market certainly has the potential for a mobile app-only strategy, but I do not think that would work today,” he said.
“The app market is developing very well with taxi aggregators and others, but it may not be the ideal choice for customers looking to purchase products online. In addition, I believe customers want to compare and buy fashion related products, features that apps currently lack,” he said then.
Also Read: Ditch the web for app-only commerce? Not a smart move, skeptics say
However, it looks that the company is looking to do away with all the mobile app problems while retaining the functionalities of a mobile app

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