BENGALURU: Myntra, the country’s top online fashion retailer, is retracting from its app-only model by relaunching its mobile site in an attempt to bring back lost customers.
The move comes just nine months after the Flipkart-owned company shut down its ecommerce website to sell products only through its mobile app, triggering a debate among online retail startups on whether an app-only strategy will work or will it backfire.
Ambarish Kenghe, head of products at Myntra, said the company will stick to a mobile only strategy and has no plans to relaunch its desktop site.
“We are still focused on our mobile strategy and want to get the consumer experience right,” he said. “They (consumers) will now have the option of buying on the mobile site but we will keep nudging the consumer to download the app.”
Experts said the launch of Myntra.com will now help the Bengaluru-based company attract consumers who come hunting for the brand on the search engines, because many consumers are reluctant to download apps or are uninstalling them to clear up their smartphone’s memory.
“Consumers who do not have a mobile app are redirected to a link to download it. This is a dead end for a potential consumer and a lost opportunity for the company,” said an ex-Myntra official on a condition of anonymity.
Another former official of the company said the app-only strategy had failed. “Mobile-only is a good strategy, but app-only was an extreme step of that,” the person said on condition of anonymity. “If it (impact of app-only move) wasn’t significant, they wouldn’t have shifted back. But the reflex action of the system is not bad. It is a learning for any other company that consumer-friendly decision is important,” the person said.
Myntra officials recently said that the company will narrowly miss its target of achieving $1billion annual gross merchandise value (GMV) this fiscal, and it has now readjusted its target to reach the milestone by March 2017.
When asked if the launch of site-browse feature saw less mobile app downloads, Kenghe said, “But we had a bunch of consumers who took an extra step to download the app.”
Two months ago, Myntra had launched an app feature wherein a user could invite a friend to browse through the products on Myntra’s mobile site without downloading the app, but one could purchase only through the app.
The fashion portal had moved to an app-only model in May last year for two main reasons — 70% of its revenue was coming from mobile apps and the country’s mobile-first generation was its target audience.
Hence, losing out on the desktop audience was “a cost they were ready to bear”, Abhishek Ranjan, who headed Myntra’s mobile business, had told ET in August last year.
Ananth Narayanan, CEO of Myntra had told ET in an interview in October: “We did lose customers. But the rate at which the mobile is growing, we got a lot of new customers. When you say lost, it is all by the way temporary. What we are doing is we are continuing to try and get them back on the app in a very systematic manner. Over the next six months, we are hoping that a lot of them will convert.”
While the company continues to nudge its potential customers to get its app, clearly Myntra no longer wants to miss out on those who don’t want to download its app.