India E-commerce Site Myntra to Go Mobile Only


May 11, 2015

Mayu Saini, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD)

New Delhi, 11 May 2015

The future of fashion shopping in India appears all about about m-commerce.

Top fashion retailer Myntra – which was acquired by India’s biggest e-tailer Flipkart in May 2014 – on Monday said it will go mobile only beginning Friday.

"Myntra is taking the first step toward the future of fashion shopping," the company said in an e-mail to its customers.

This means that the desktop site will give way to mobile and tablets.

Industry analysts are divided about the impact, saying it will be a balance of a loss of some customers versus greater personalization, another strong trend for the immediate future of e-tail.

"We believe fashion is a very personal experience. Your sense of style, the brands you wear, the trends you choose to follow are unique to you. What inspires you to look good changes and evolves every day," the e-mail from Myntra stated, explaining the move. The e-tailer added that the mobile platform would help create the best fashion experience because it is "truly personalized and engaging."

Citing the changing curve of users, and their preference for shopping on a mobile platform, Shamik Sharma, chief technology and product officer of Myntra, said earlier this year that 90 percent of traffic came from mobile phones.

"They seem to be banking on the fact that the short-term loss of Web browser customers will be compensated by the faster growth of mobile usage, as well as from better conversion of app traffic by more clearly customizing the experience for the mobile customer based on location- and phone-based data," Devangshu Dutta, chief executive officer of management consultants Third Eyesight, told WWD. He warned that it was important to be mindful of the fact that a smaller number of Web browsers are generating a disproportionate share of the sales, perhaps skewing the figures, and that a mobile page is not always optimal for a customer to view the product, which could negatively impact conversions.

As e-commerce companies increasingly focus on customers in smaller cities – where mobile connections are the easiest and most prevalent form of Internet access – and target customers between the ages of 17 and 25, the faster, more intuitive navigation on mobile apps is becoming a stronger pull.

Last week, a study by Goldman Sachs estimated that the e-commerce market in India would account for 2.5 percent of gross domestic prod by 2030, and grow 15 times, to $300 billion, by then.

The report noted that online retailers would need to raise $20 billion over the next five years to sustain growth. Although Flipkart has been the fastest growing e-tailer in India, Amazon India, Jabong and Snapdeal have seen a slew of investments and have been growing fast in the fashion space as well.

The report noted that the "domestic online retail industry is evolving into a hyperlocal on-demand market," with the growth of affordable smartphones, improving infrastructure and a propensity to transact online.

Myntra’s move to ease out the desktop version appears geared to growing the hyperlocal segment, and a new focus on technology – last week it acquired Bengaluru based mobile app-enabling company Native5 Software Solutions Pvt Ltd.

The retail market in India was estimated at $550 billion in 2014 and is expected to double in size by 2020, according to a recent report by UBS Securities.

The merger of two giant brick-and-mortar retailers – the Future Group and Bharti Retail – last week is expected to create a $2.3 billion retail business with 570 stores, challenging both online and brick-and-mortar formats to hone their marketing plans and find niche segments.

(Published in WWD.)