App only — Myntra’s Mantra

Myntra is clearly the leader of the pack when it comes to fashion e-tailing. Why would someone at the top of the curve, decide to move to a channel that has roughly 10% of the overall population of the country. (in my view — these 10% are the early adopters. Both at the premium segment $200+ phones and entry level segment — sub $150 phones)

An optimistic estimate of total no of app downloads of Myntra is 10M on Android plus say an equal number on iOS. (though this might not be the case). That makes is 20M app users — thats still 12.5% of total smart phone users in India. Even if you apply the 80–20 rule, you are still 40% short of the 20% of users who might be spending 80% on mobile. Why would you shut down desktop access to these users?

Lets start with what Myntra has to say:

Myntra’s claim that close to 95% of their internet traffic and over 70% of sales comes through mobile devices, testifies their announcement of shutting down the website on May 15th.

Assuming that the above statement is true and there are no other sales channels for Myntra apart from Online — If you are the MBA types — the above statement is a great data Interpretation problem — 5% of traffic contributes to 30% of sales. Why would someone shut that down?

India is a mobile-first internet country for a large portion of the population. And with the way things are going may become a mobile-only internet country in the future

Bang on. But my discomfort lies in the fact that the smartphone boom in India is less than 2–3 years old. How are you so sure of consumer behaviour on a medium that is at its infancy. And dont forget most of these folks are early adopters — there is certain amount of novelty and newness that keeps them engaged. What happens when it loses the sheen?

And specific to Myntra — Irrespective of the scorching growth charts, isn’t it a big bet to take decisions on data that is less than 1 year old?(Myntra launched its android app on May 28th 2014).

IMO fashion is a category that is an involved purchase. its not transactional like cinema tickets, mobile recharges or flight tickets. There is a certain amount of planning that goes in. Agreed that with higher disposable income — the threshold for impulse purchase goes up. Mobile is a channel. Just as online was a channel. Shutting down access to a channel where buying behaviours are well established is detrimental in the short term for sure.

The obvious positives that emerge out of this move for myntra:

  1. Price hopping becomes difficult. (but they are forever at 40% off, so not sure if this would make a difference at all). Searching for coupon codes would be difficult too.
  2. Brand Loyalty — I think this could be the biggest bet. If they are able to improve on the overall UX on mobile — they would become the gold standard platform for mobile fashion shopping that can bring great network effects.
  3. Personalization — This has been the evading elixir of every mobile app. By definition mobile is a personalized device and if apps are able to tap into the data — right from the offers, to the products that are shown when you open up can be personalized. Imagine you have started training for a marathon and Myntra app sends you offers for a marathon kit.

I would like to believe that the bigger picture is that Flipkart is throwing in a few chips in the high stakes game. They are almost 10X of what Myntra is. (source — similarweb.com)

Fashion as a category is driven by experiments. So its fits well for Myntra to try this out. The mobile only route to understand user behaviour and adoption. This data is Gold. Both Snapdeal and Amazon would not have access to such data in the near future and if there are some interesting trends that emerge — they could serve as a huge competitive advantage for FlipKart. Only time will tell, till then go ahead and enjoy 50–70% off on their entire catalog ☺