Myntra desktop site
By Nikhil Pahwa and Shashidhar KJ

Fashion e-tailer Myntra will be relaunching its desktop website on June 1, a little over a year after it shut it down in May last year, reports Mint. Myntra expects a 15-20% jump in sales in the current financial year, but that’s a percentage figure that is immaterial if it doesn’t also indicate how much going mobile only and app only impacted Myntra:

  • How much traffic did the company lose?
  • How did first going mobile only, and then going app only impact transactions?
  • What was the impact on profitability (or loss)?
  • Did going mobile only reduce customer acquisition costs for Myntra?
  • What was the impact on marketshare?

    “Short term marketshare is something we don’t factor into our decisions. You really can’t be competition driven. It’s about how deeply we understand consumers.” – Mukesh Bansal, May 13th, 2015

  • How did being app only impact frequency of usage?

At the time Myntra justified the move saying that it generates more than 90% of its traffic and 70% of its orders from its mobile app. The move comes shortly after chief products officer Punit Soni’s exit from Flipkart who was largely responsible for driving Flipkart towards the app only model. Both Myntra and Flipkart relaunched their mobile websites in November 2015.

Our Take

“When cars came for the first time, the questions were being asked that horses are so much better. I’m seeing similar arguments, because consumers are using mobile.” – Sachin Bansal, May 13th, 2015.

Oh well. Still not sure whether that analogy fits this scenario.

Going mobile app only was a bold move, but not necessarily the best move. Problems with taking an app only strategy are many:
– Firstly, it creates a significant dependency, and inserts a platform service provider (in this case, the Play Store or the Apple App store) into what should be a relationship between an online business and its customer. You address that dependency by being at multiple places, and the open web is necessary to maintain that balance of power. This probably doesn’t matter to “unicorn” businesses, because they’ll get in anywhere, but they should be careful of making moves that impact openness.
– You’re creating another layer of friction in case of consumer adoption: if you are dependent on deep-linking to bring you search or social traffic, that only works if potential customers have the app installed. If not, they’ll have to through the process of installing the app.
– Thirdly, as we said a year ago, installing doesn’t mean there won’t be uninstalls. This probably still holds true:

“While the smartphone penetration in India is increasing rapidly, as is the mobile Internet penetration, majority of the devices are still low end and with limited space. It’s a significant risk for Myntra to take because the number of apps that people keep on their mobile is limited, given that the space available for handsets, and the way the cache tends to fill up, is also limited. There is a significant propensity to uninstall.”

Other Criticism

Flipkart and Myntra’s move was met by a lot of criticism by competition and industry watchers who thought the experiment was bold but was not thought through well. It’s worth noting, in an interview with Economic Times, Snapdeal co-founder and CEO Kunal Bahl termed the experiment as “extremely consumer-unfriendly”. Bahl also added that Myntra’s app-only strategy helped the site boost its fashion category sales.

He also highlighted that discovery was better on desktop sites even though people bought on the mobile app. Indeed, at the time a report by We Are Social’s report pointed out that almost 13% of the Indian population use PC/Laptops to research on eCommerce sites, while 14% actually purchase via desktops/laptops.

Also read: Another reason why you shouldn’t go app only