Will Websites Eventually Become Extinct?
Recently the Indian fashion retailer Myntra.com completely shut down its website and moved to an app-only mode. Is this a sign of things to come—that websites will eventually become extinct?
Myntra.com's data suggests that it pulls in about 80 percent of its traffic and 60 percent of sales through its mobile application. Myntra.com basically deals with fashion shopping, which by nature is quite impulsive. People buying such products will likely prefer the convenience of shopping via a mobile device rather than going through the perceived pain of shopping via a website.
Speaking of the shopping experience, going mobile-only helps organizations capture customer attention relatively easily via push notifications. Websites are dependent upon user action to see what's in the store, whereas mobile enables more targeted and personalized marketing.
The mobile platform is also characterized by fewer distractions compared to PCs. A person shopping via a website may have a lot of other browser tabs open, whereas the mobile-only experience will have fewer distractions. Though not a significant benefit, operationally it is cheaper to manage an app than a website.
While going the mobile-app-only and no-website-way has some merit, interestingly there is a reverse trend that’s happening where some of the ideas that started as mobile apps are now pushing for a website presence.
A case in point is the popular messaging app WhatsApp recently releasing its website version. Why would an app with more than half a billion active users on mobile platforms choose to have a desktop website presence? An interesting analysis by Ujwal Tickoo reveals some answers:
- There are over 1.5 billion laptop and PC screens.
- If users are working on their PCs in the office, why make them switch context? Why make them pick up their mobile device to check and type their new messages?
- Typing is easier on a PC keyboard, especially for the non-mobile generation.
Facebook recently announced that its Messenger will be available as a web version. With Facebook embracing unbundling product strategy and its quest towards simplifying its offerings, Messenger being available as a standalone web version only augments its strategy.
With mobile devices being so heterogeneous, going mobile-only may be challenging for basic user experiences such as inconsistent mobile internet speeds and the need to get a better feel of products on bigger screens. At the same time, given the fact that search engines are not able to search content on mobile apps may help e-businesses as it makes it difficult for consumers to compare prices.
Given the pros and cons, it is evident that it may be too early for businesses to adopt a mobile-only strategy, but it certainly makes for some interesting times ahead.