Myntra Abandons App-Only Strategy, Humbly Returns To Desktop – 3 Lessons For The Ecommerce Entrepreneur
Definition of Disruptive Innovation: A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leaders and alliances. (WIkipedia)
March 23, 2015 was a historical day for Indian ecommerce industry. On that day, Flipkart and Myntra, two of the largest portals to buy products online, decided to shut down their mobile websites, and forced the user to install their apps if they wanted to purchase anything.
2 weeks later, Myntra decided to shut down their desktop website as well, go full throttle with app-only approach. Some claimed this to the final nail in the coffin for desktop usage; few termed it as a ‘mobile revolution’.
Hardcore users of desktop felt cheated, and a small but focussed rebellion was initiated against Myntra and Flipkart for their app-only diktat. Myntra’s sales plunged, losses increased by 4 times; other ecommerce portals like Amazon, Jabong, eBay vowed never to ditch desktop users but Myntra and Flipkart were adamant.
May 3, 2016 would be another historical day for Indian ecommerce industry; as on that day, Myntra finally decided that enough is enough. They have decided to return to desktop version of Internet to sell their products and thus, quashed their app-only approach initiated 14 months earlier.
Desktop return was inevitable as in February this year, Myntra announced the return of their mobile website; and the signs were visible since December last year, when Myntra silently relaunched some sections of their mobile website.
June 1st, 2016 would be the date when Myntra.com would be again accessible via desktops and laptops.
Based on the statements issued by CEO of Myntra on their decision to return to desktop version, we present three valuable lessons for the ecommerce entrepreneur:
a) Mobile is big; Mobile is happening; But Desktop users aren’t dead yet
CEO of Myntra Ananth Narayanan said, “We found that while a majority of the growth is driven by mobile, the volume of users on desktop hasn’t decreased”
This clearly shows that although mobile users are increasing at an incredible pace, desktop isn’t dead yet. Infact, from my personal surveys, I found that desktop shoppers are more matured, professional and buying-oriented, rather than mobile users who are restless, new users of technology, and inclined towards discounts rather than loyalty or branding. Maybe things would change in the next 3-5 years, but still, desktop won’t be dead even then.
b) Ecommerce products needs to viewed on big screen, that is desktop/laptop
CEO Narayanan further said, “We’ve launched a number of new categories such as home furnishing and (fine) jewellery where customers want to see the products on a larger screen..”
As observed so many times, serious online buyers always want to have a better, bigger look of the products they are buying. And very few mobile users in India have a bigger screens. Now, where will an average mobile user with small screen go to check the products?
c) Bargaining is an essential ingredient of the shopping process in India
Indians love to bargain, compare and check their products – be it offline or online. As we had shared earlier, mobile app shopping experience curtails this liberty for shoppers, and somehow restrict their natural flow of action.
As Myntra CEO said, “.. According to our data, women customers, who are a key area of focus for us, in particular, want to have the option of shopping across channels.”
The problem was that, Myntra attempted to change our habits of online shopping. Even world’s biggest ecommerce portals like Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Target, Alibaba couldn’t attempt to stop the inflow of desktop users by forcing app download.
There is a very thin line between Disruption & Innovation; and we are glad that Myntra admitted their mistake within a year, and ditched mindless disruption. We hope that now they focus their efforts on some cool innovation, and make a positive impact on the ecommerce eco-system.
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