E-commerce is a growing trend all over the world, and competitors in this space have to stay on their toes at all times. Flipkart, the e-commerce leader in India, has unveiled its plans for going app-only, rather than making special deals accessible on its website or even in a mobile browser. Only time will tell whether or not more e-commerce giants will follow FlipKart’s example in the future.
Also read: Bitcoin and 2015: The Final Countdown
Going App-Only: Is it Even Beneficial to E-Commerce Right Now?
Mobile devices play an ever-important role in the lives of everyday consumers. Several e-commerce players are banking on mobile purchases for the future, as nearly every major brand has its own mobile app. As you would come to expect, most of these retailers offer exclusive deals within their mobile apps, which are not available anywhere else.
Even though these in-app perks sound very promising from a business perspective, there are a lot of drawbacks to this idea as well. First of all, forcing users to download an app for special discounts can backfire on the company, as it could end up losing a small portion of its customer base. Furthermore, rival e-commerce sites might offer similar discounts without requiring users to download an app, which makes the whole point a bit moot.
However, there are a fair amount of positive sides to this business model. Brands can use these apps to leverage device features by giving them a better insight into a user’s context and providing additional customization. Sending out personalized offers to consumers through notifications and messaging is a powerful tool, although it also begs me to question how much personal data these apps collect.
Depending on the regions targeted by e-commerce players, mobile apps might provide a better experience compared to using a mobile browser. Slower mobile internet connectivity will have a major impact on the browsing experience, whereas mobile marketplace apps can smoothen the process by caching more information. Despite the mobile device boom on a global scale, fast mobile connectivity is not available everywhere.
That being said, most mobile devices come pre-installed with a ton of apps and other proprietary software, leaving little to no room for additional applications to be installed. In the Western world, this scenario happens less and less. But in the rest of the world, mobile devices are filled with bloatware, making the idea of moving e-commerce to apps only less viable.
Customers Should be Able To Opt-In
Regardless of how you feel about moving e-commerce to mobile apps full-time, customers should be given a choice to opt-in to this experience. While it may make sense for brands and retailers to make this move, customers don’t like being forced into an app-only experience they did not ask for — especially when the retailer doesn’t offer a viable alternative.
Even though everyday consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices, it doesn’t mean they want to be engulfed in a mobile experience for all aspects of life. Online shopping is one area where customers still prefer a better hands-on experience, such as the one offered by browsing various websites to compare prices. Once retailers opt for the app-only route, price comparison becomes much harder, as users will need to switch between individual apps.
Furthermore, mobile apps are not always available for all versions of an operating system. For instance, on Android, a mobile app might only support Android version 4.4 and above, even though a large part of the international Android user base is running on earlier firmware. This would make a retailer’s mobile app inaccessible to them, which is not beneficial for building or maintaining a customer base.
Integrating Bitcoin Payments Down the Line
Having customers store their financial information — such as credit card numbers and bank account details — in a mobile app is not the most secure solution. If more retailers want to go the app-only route, they will need to integrate more mobile-friendly payment options, preferably those that do not rely on the existing financial infrastructure.
Bitcoin is a perfect candidate in this regard, as the disruptive digital currency operates outside of the banking system, and can be sent across borders. Accepting Bitcoin payments has become incredibly easy for retailers; all it takes to get started is a few minutes of time to register a payment processor account and get things set up.
Furthermore, mobile Bitcoin payments are on the rise all over the world, especially in developing countries. With little to no access to financial services, residents are looking for viable alternatives. Bitcoin is a preferred choice, as it can be used to send and receive money around the world in a matter of mere seconds, at a fraction of the cost.
What are your thoughts on e-commerce moving to the mobile space? Are you using mobile apps for online shopping purposes already? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: Tech In Asia
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