E-commerce giant Flipkart launched an app-like mobile Web browser experience on Monday called Flipkart Lite, optimised for low-bandwidth connections and offering app-like features like push notifications and home screen access.
The mobile browser experience, which went live on Monday, works exclusively on Google Chrome - and is a return to the mobile Web for the company after it was shut in April as the first step in the company's app-only model.
The browser-app hybrid experience - called Flipkart Lite - can be added to the home screen, and has a fluid and dynamic user experience that feels like an app. Product listings on the mobile Web experience trail with a notification box that says offers will be available exclusively on Flipkart's app, with a link to it. Features like Ping, its internal messenger, were not available on the browser version.
Flipkart partnered with Google to build the mobile website, optimising it to make use of Google Chrome's newly supported notifications feature, alongside home screen access. Re/code reports Flipkart had access to three new tools from Google's Chrome team, including Service Workers, meant to aid development for poor Internet. The report quotes Rahul Roy-Chowdhury, a Chrome product manager, to say Flipkart is the first to take advantage of all the new tools, adding Google hopes other websites will follow suit.
E-commerce companies have been harping about higher retention rates on app-using customers, but it remains to be seen how it compares to the browser Web experience - and whether the consumer will choose one in particular over the other.
Flipkart's fashion brand Myntra, which went app-only recently, hasn't gone live with the Chrome experience yet, and may very well be next in line, along with other brands and businesses.
The move puts a new spin on the app vs Web argument that Flipkart had been mired in all year - and was reportedly looking to shut down the desktop version of the e-commerce website as well. In a recent interview, Chief Product Officer Punit Soni, had clarified that Flipkart will not be going app-only.