Flipkart owned fashion retailer Myntra is now relaunching its mobile website, after shutting it down on May 15th this year. Parts of the mobile website have gone live: using their mobile browser, users are currently able to view, for example, the catalog for sarees (click here) and shirts (click here). The homepage on the website still links to the app, so it looks like the catalog is still being populated online.
It’s worth nothing that while Myntra is, at present, only making its catalog available on the mobile web, the purchase still has to be done via the app. Flipkart recently relaunched its mobile website, and enabled purchase of goods on mobile, so it’s probably only a matter of time before Myntra allows purchases as well.
Perhaps the company realized that the issue that we had pointed out earlier this year still persists: phones in India often have limited space, and shopping isn’t a priority activity. Hopefully, they’ll also soon realize that sending hundreds of notifications a day (caveat: I’m exaggerating, but…), without giving users a option to shut off notifications from within the app, is the easiest route to being uninstalled.
Myntra shutting down its mobile website had seeded the “apps versus web” debate earlier this year. While the data might have pointed towards a 100% shift in the future, strategically, it was a poor decision: All eggs in one basket is a bet you can take as an upstart, not as an incumbent, and the business should not have closed out all other modes of reaching customers.
Flipkart is making the right decision now by making its business web-compatible again, but we also think that choosing a Google-Chrome-only model (like it has done for Flipkart’s mobile site) is also a myopic business decision, especially when UC Browser is more than four times Chrome’s mobile usage in India. While Flipkart’s mobile version works only on Chrome, Myntra’s relaunched version appears to be compatible with multiple browsers.
Distribution (whether via telecom operators, social networks or browsers) is the lifeblood of web businesses, and has the propensity to dictate terms when it becomes too powerful. The only way to address this is to ensure that you, as a content or service business, don’t give a competitive advantage to any particular platform. The browser wars ended many years ago, and the definition of web standards helped ensure that websites don’t determine which browsers people can use, and browsers don’t determine which websites users can visit. It needs to remain that way.