The largest e-Commerce company in India, Flipkart, recently decided to shut down its desktop website and go mobile only, by forcing desktop users to make their purchases on their mobile device. When browsing www.flipkart.com on a desktop computer, the only call to action available is now “Shop on app”, followed by a pop-up window prompting users to send an SMS with the link to the app.
In a country where most users access internet for the first time through a mobile device, this should come as no surprise and in India, mobile seems to be the way forward for e-Commerce companies. According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India, out of the 354 million internet users in India, 213 million are mobile-only. However it's not just about the scale of users, but how far they have come in such a short time. The number of mobile users has indeed quadrupled since June 2012 in the sub-continent.
Sachin Bansal, CEO and Co Founder of Flipkart, recently tweeted:
@sumanthr I would argue the other way around. Non-mobile-only strategy is the most risky thing at this time anywhere in the world
— Sachin Bansal (@_sachinbansal) March 20, 2015
Here is why India is currently the Promised Land of m-Commerce.
What Is the Indian m-Wave about?
There is a mobile revolution happening in India. eMarketer estimates that by 2016, India will replace the United States as the second largest smartphone market in the world. Most e-Commerce players have seen mobile make a major contribution to business transactions as mobile penetration has risen exponentially. In 2014, mobile contributed to over 40% of the total amount of e-Commerce sales in India, more than in any other country in the world. China comes second with slightly over 35%, while the US come take the 6th position with only 15% of e-Commerce sales done via mobile.
The impact on publishers is growing, too. Times Of India states that mobile contributes to 50-60% of its business today, compared to just 5% one year ago. An article on Medianama from May 2014 also describes how Snapdeal, the second largest homegrown retailer in India behind Flipkart, had seen its mobile sales increase 25 times in one year only.
e-Commerce brands are spending their way through this mobile wave to capture the market. A recent Mobile Ad Spend Report by DigitalMarket Asia predicts that they will spend USD108 million in India between 2014 to 2015, a growth of 52% in just one year! This spend will also increase by 30% to $196 million during the festival season of October to December.
A report by KPMG in India confirms the trend in the battle between desktop and mobile advertising. The below graph portrays the expected rise of mobile ad spend compared to desktop in the coming years.
Mobile Has a Very Beneficial Impact on the Indian Economy
In the midst of an economic meltdown, mobile has turned out to be the beacon for the world economy as it has created more than 11 million jobs worldwide. Mobile technology is critical to the world economy, generating global revenue of almost $3.3 trillion according to The Global Economic Impact of Mobile Technology report by BCG Perspectives.
BCG conducted a research in six countries – US, Germany, South Korea, Brazil, China and India, whose combined mobile GDP (mGDP) contributes to more than 47% of the total global GDP. India stands at the 4th position in the list, taking into account investments in mobile technology, government spending and net exports of mobile technologies.
India Is not Just about m-Commerce; It’s about m-Governance, too
Speaking at the gathering of Silicon Valley CEOs, Prime Minister of India Mr. Modi announced plans to create more public Wi-Fi spots, including at 500 railway stations across India, as well as an aggressive expansion of the National Optical Fibre cable to provide Broadband facilities to more than 600,000 villages across the country.
In a nation of more than 1 billion cell phones, m-Governance has the potential to make mobile development a mass movement. “It puts governance within everyone’s reach”, Mr. Modi said.
These efforts by the Government, if successful, will solve the main problem India has been facing in terms of infrastructure limitations. This will in turn create a ripple effect and help mobile commerce do more than what has already been achieved.
In 2013, AT Kearney reported on the global e-Commerce industry in which India, the second most populous country in the world, did not even make their top 30 most attractive online markets. Only two years later, Morgan Stanley released a report in which they expect India’s e-Commerce market to grow from $2.9 billion dollars in 2013 to over $100 billion by 2020, making it the fastest growing e-Commerce market in the world. Remarkable prowess, which could only be achieved through India’s tectonic shift from e-Commerce to m-Commerce.