Mobile Only: The Difference Between India And The West

Punit Soni, chief product officer at Flipcart, a leading online retailer in India, has published a fascinating first person report on e-commerce in India:

Most folks used the mobile app to buy stuff (not just during BBD). The more I ventured into the village, or in construction sites (where a majority of the orders came from), there was no option but the mobile app. A majority of Indians will never see a laptop, and it was obvious how they will do the majority of their online shopping. And they will indeed do a lot of online shopping since there is really no offline retail for most of their needs.


And it was a revelation to look at the phones. All Android. Most lower cost devices like Moto G. These small, dusty, scratched up devices hold the key to the entire world for these folks. We have to figure out how to ensure a great experience on these phones, even if there is bad network, low memory and small battery life.


This is not news but it is interesting to see it being put into a vivid picture.

This reality is why Rocket Internet which operates a lot of startups in Asian markets is very much focused on mobile. It also explains why for example Zalando is right now heavily investing in a mobile enabling platform and a reorganization to become and then stay more agile: What we see in India and elsewhere is generally speaking also the future of western retail as well. The western world will just take a bit longer to go from stationary retail and desktop internet to mobile retail. India, China and most of Asia are just skipping both of the former.

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