An increasing number of e-commerce sites are turning to app markets to popularise their services.
An increase in smartphone penetration leading to a subsequent increase in mobile internet users have encouraged e-commerce sites in developing their own applications and payment gateways accessible across different operating systems (OS) like BlackBerry, iOS (Apple), Android and others.
The basic idea is to integrate the services – including payment options - available on the web into the handheld devices.
Trying to take the first mover advantage, some of the e-commerce sites like Naaptol, OLX or Snapdeal are moving away from the traditional WAP sites (mobile compatible sites) into the realm of developing their own applications.
Traditionally, e-commerce sites have preferred using the web and after popularity of the mobile web, developed WAP – Wireless Application Protocol – enabled sites for easy viewing on the mobile. However, with increasing popularity of applications, thanks mainly to smartphones, e-commerce sites are now exploring newer avenues for better reach.
Says Mr Amarjit Batra, country head, OLX.in, “The penetration of smartphones will boost hyper-localisation of products and help users. We found users more comfortable in having a mobile application than opting for mobile web search or using WAP sites.”
OLX.in with presence across 96 countries has nearly 15 crore users globally and its application is available across seven different mobile platforms that include Android, iOS (Apple), Ovistore (Nokia), Windows and Blackberry.
Snapdeal too is planning to widen their reach through applications. Snapdeal already has an application in the Android market and is planning to bring out similar applications on other OS.
While Naaptol's application is currently available on the Android platform only, it plans to introduce similar application across iOS and Blackberry platforms by January 2012.
Global telecom analyst Gartner, has pointed out that mobile device sales in India is expected to reach 231 million units in 2012, an increase of 8.5 percent over 2011 sales of 213 million units.
The mobile handset market is expected to show steady growth through 2015 when end user sales will surpass 322 million units.
Interestingly, companies like Tradusads.in which still has a WAP site confirmed that it was looking at possibilities of developing applications across different platforms (OS). However, Mr Saurabh Pandey, Vice President, Tradusads.in, maintains that with feature phones still dominating the Indian market, having a WAP site was had its benefits compared to an application.
“Many feature phones still do not have an option for application download. However, developing an application is the next step” he adds.
According to industry sources, integrating web services into handheld devices would mean adding payment options to these applications. Currently, mobile applications contribute “not more than” one per cent of the total business of e-commerce sites. For the share to pick up, the availability of payment option or the integration of m-commerce is required in these applications.
Current mobile applications developed by these e-commerce sites generally have a search option for users and advertise options for merchants.
Admitting the importance of such integration, Mr Sachin Singhal, Head, e-commerce, Naaptol, adds: “A mobile app is more user-friendly than having a WAP site. However, integrating the payment window with it makes the application complete.”
According to Mr Sandeep Komarvelley, Head, Marketing and Alliances, Snapdeal, a payment gate option would make mobile apps “more meaningful” in providing end to end solution for users.
While Naaptol is developing a payment gateway that will allow users to use their credit cards to buy products, it also plans to set up a new server to cater to mobile app user requirements of faster browsing.
Snapdeal too is exploring options of integrating a payment gate along with its applications, Mr Komarvelley said.
(Source: Business Line)