Myntra: There’s life after the desktop

June 26, 2015

Myntra, India’s biggest online fashion retailer, made a big decision in May to shut its website and rely only on its app. The question was whether they could make a leap like that without hurting revenue and losing customers. They have made that leap, said Prasad Kompalli, head of Myntra’s e-commerce platform.

In an interview with Reuters, Kompalli talked about sales, new features, recruitment and what the company, a unit of Indian e-commerce site Flipkart, might be up to five years from now. Here are edited excerpts from the interview.

Q: Industry analysts are saying Myntra sales have dropped since you took down your website.
A: You can’t even say it’s gone down. Basically there is a curve of adoption. People migrate step by step, but the rate of migration from only-desktop to only-mobile has actually doubled in May over April. I think there is no real revenue loss. What we’ve set for ourselves is that migration will be complete in three months. We are in the second month now. People still think there is a desktop channel and a mobile channel, so if desktop is dropped, there will be revenue loss. But those people are moving to mobile, so it is too simplistic to say we lost revenue on that. This is part of migration.

Q: How are sales doing?
A: We have clocked at least 50 percent more revenue in May compared to April. June will be as much as May or maybe slightly higher. Definitely there may be some customer anguish over losing a channel, there is that. But I think as soon as we are launching new features, the feedback has moved from complaining about not having a desktop version to actually talking about what features they would want on the app. The mobile app is much more engaging for a fashion shopper.

Q: What features are you introducing?
A: Calendar and context integration will come in the second half of August or so. You can check with your friends for their opinion before buying, almost as easy and simple as WhatsApp. An integrated chat. If you have a trip coming up, you might get suggestions for weather specific clothes to buy.

Q: How much investment is going in building this?
A: Year over year we are doubling the technology force, maybe even more. By the end of this year we will be 500 engineers and product managers, including at very senior levels. Data scientists, senior designers. There will be some very senior recruitment from Silicon Valley as well.

Q: There was recently a Twitter fight between Snapdeal and Flipkart over hiring from Silicon Valley.  Why are so many Indian e-commerce companies looking to the Valley to get talent?
A: I think what Sachin (Bansal) meant was that there is talent available everywhere. At Flipkart we’ve recruited from Silicon Valley and from here too. We have Punit Soni, but we also have hired someone in Bangalore who is an in-house entrepreneur who will build new initiatives. He is an equally senior, equally well accomplished person.

The chief of analytics at Flipkart and Myntra are all from Bangalore. I think talent is everywhere now, and 95 percent of our hires will be from India.  There is also a lot of pull right now for the Flipkart and Myntra brands. People overseas know these brands and want to work with us.

Q: What will Myntra look like five years from now?
A: We will be by far the largest fashion brand in India. I think there is potential, in the way that we are developing our technology, there is a potential to go abroad. But that is in the future. Only because you asked for a five-year frame and five years is a really long time in e-commerce. So yes, there is  potential to grow and use this technology across geographies and Myntra five years down the line can very well be there. But for now, our focus is to be a very big brand in India.

Q: What countries would be good fits?
A: I think U.S. is a possibility, UK is a possibility. UAE is a possibility. But each of them would have to be analyzed separately. But for now we are looking at India.

(Editing by Robert MacMillan; Follow Nivedita on Twitter @tweetsfromnivi and Robert @bobbymacReports. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

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