Everyone has mobiles nowadays and nobody really switches ON their computer just to buy items anymore.
Building an app first ecosystem sounds reasonable right? Considering that we are in a country that is growing tech-savvy and where a mind-boggling 70% of the online traffic comes from mobile, wanting to have an app seems the most logical thing ever.
And that’s what we at Kaamik did in our first few months. At this point in time, we were a one-stop solution for those looking to buy unique, handmade creations. You know, the ones made with extreme love and care (* FEELS!!! *).
So, we iterated quickly, onboarded many creators across Bangalore and sort of had our bases covered. Things were going well and sales had just started!!
But, while we were trying to iterate quickly, our start just happened to be wrong fundamentally…
Now, we had talked to the creators about the app and took feedback from our initial set of users. But the problem that we sort of noticed but chose to neglect had now grown to a much bigger demon.
While we had a growing catalogue and the numbers looked good, it started to hit us that our user base just wasn’t growing at a strong enough pace. The initial couple of hundreds were quick to sign up, but the next dozen just became that much harder to acquire.
The thing about us techies is that we look at the problem and come up with the solution. Optimum ones even! But we never stop to question if it’s the right fit for the ecosystem.
In an e-commerce platform, the start is usually slow unless you have a credible network or are able to optimally use the very vocal business community! In cases where neither work, the ideal scenario is that you build your brand up from the scratch. Strong brand identity takes time to build though.
Remember the story of how Jack Ma built Alibaba from scratch by buying amongst his own circle so that the demand never halted? And that went on for 6 months before they even started to have a positive outreach! It’s a scenario that many e-commerce startups are familiar with unfortunately.
So yes, setting up a brand takes time, especially in ecommerce. But how does building an App come into the picture? Well, let’s put this out in points.
For people to download the app, the brand value has to be much higher than it would be for a website. For people only install apps that they trust! So on average, it takes a higher degree of involvement to imprint on a potential customer’s mind.
The number of steps involved in installing the app is higher, with each step acting as a firewall that the customer has to explicitly bypass to move on. As Donald Miller says, the more brain cells a potential customer has to utilise, the higher the chance of them giving up midway. Just consider the number of steps involved: a. Click on link that redirects to play store b. Check the reviews once more to verify trustworthiness. c. Click on the install button (the biggest barrier) d. Wait for installation to complete (giving them time to think during which just they might find a better alternative!) e. Open the app and complete its procedures Compare that to a website, and it gets solved in about two to three clicks!
A startup is always evolving. The idea from today might have some major touchups tomorrow, or might have even had a complete 360 degree makeover! So building an app means you have very little space to wiggle, and sometimes change of idea might just mean you have to scrap the whole app! (like we had to… goes to the corner and resumes crying…)
Bottom line, an app works, nothing wrong with it, as long as you don’t mind the slow start and the overhead required to get users. But, on the sunny side, the users you get are going to stick around for a long time for sure!!
PS : Our stack for the app was fun indeed and built for speed. Would recommend giving it a try if going lean is a requirement.
App : React Native (might want to consider flutter if efficiency is a big consideration)
OTA : Expo
Server : AWS
BackEnd : Golang (parallel processing++)