Online consumer companies try to induce or even compel users to download their apps, to get higher consumer loyalty and mine data better
As one tries to access the Zomato website on the mobile browser, a message mocks saying “Lol. You don’t have the Zomato app?” While this message can be skipped and the online restaurant search portal accessed, several other consumer internet companies have started creating “endless roadblocks” for users to ensure they “download app now”.
If that is not enough, these companies are going all out to woo customers through discounts, deals and vouchers, to get them to download their mobile applications. According to several ads across social networking websites, travel booking portal MakeMyTrip is offering cash-back of up to Rs 500 on the first booking through its app, while app-based taxi booking provider Ola (earlier Ola Cabs) is offering discounts up to Rs 200 on first booking through the app.
Experts say these are desperate attempts to capture customers’ loyalty ahead of competitors and “reside in their mobile phones”, which would enable better customer mining and higher access to data.
“Most leading business-to-consumer portals in India get over 50 per cent of their traffic from mobile devices already. So, they now want to increase their interaction with customers and apps are the best way to do so,” said Dinesh Gulati, director at online business-to-business (B2B) marketplace Indiamart. “Apps allow us to engage with customers more, as they are logged in on their devices throughout the day.” Indiamart currently gets around 50 per cent of its traffic from mobile devices.
The high penetration of smartphones in India is a major driver for growth in India’s online consumer sector. Recently, online fashion retail portal Myntra said it got 90 per cent of its traffic from mobile devices. The reason for this high percentage could perhaps be the fact that Myntra’s website is not accessible through a mobile phone browser, most of the time. “Upgrade to Myntra app for a faster and smoother browsing experience, loved by over three million shoppers,” reads a message each time the website is opened on the phone.
According to the latest MasterCard online shopping survey, online purchases through mobile phones in India have grown by more than 100 per cent over the past two years, indicating a steep upward trend in e-commerce, propelled by expediency.
Experts say managing users’ experience on an app is far easier for a company than on a website. Additionally, mobile apps make the technology back-end management much lighter and easier for companies.
“We feel apps are the future and so, we are very focused on increasing the penetration of our app,” said Anand Subramanian, director at Ola. “Most people these days always have a mobile phone handy and we feel an app is, thus, the best way for any user to reach us instantly. Also, the app helps us give users the best experience.”
Once a mobile app is downloaded, the user stays logged into it all the time, which helps companies reach out with well-targeted marketing campaigns to promote sales, an industry player highlighted. “You need to understand that if your app is in a user’s mobile phone, the amount of data you can access is crazy. You can basically know everything about the user, from his habits to likings and even daily schedule. Then you can personalise the offers to a great extent and ensure higher sale,” the co-founder of an e-commerce portal said, requesting anonymity.
Gulati of Indiamart said several online consumer companies have already stopped creating content for websites, as they do not see any value in doing so. He estimates that over the next few years, apps will perhaps replace most consumer websites.
“Apps are interactive and ensure a very high level of engagement with consumers,” Gulati said. “If a user installs and starts using your app once, there is a very low possibility of him uninstalling it and going for another player, not unless your app gives a bad experience.”
FOR THE SAKE OF AN APP
Websites of Flipkart & Myntra are not accessible though mobile-phone browsers
Ola, MakeMyTrip, Myntra, Limeroad offering schemes for users on app downloads
Amazon, Snapdeal have held exclusive sales on apps to attract consumers
Apps enable higher customer loyalty; help companies mine users better
A company has greater access to data on the phone through the app