Myntra reopens mobile website

Move comes as Myntra seeks to avoid missing out on customers, especially first time Internet users, who don’t use the company’s mobile app


Myntra shut its website and became an app-only online store last May in an attempt to dominate mobile commerce. Photo: Bloomberg
Myntra shut its website and became an app-only online store last May in an attempt to dominate mobile commerce. Photo: Bloomberg

Online fashion retailer Myntra will reopen its mobile website on Tuesday, as it seeks to avoid missing out on customers, especially first-time web users, who don’t use the company’s mobile app.

The move comes nearly a year after it shut its mobile site.

Myntra, which is owned by Flipkart, has gradually moved towards relaunching its mobile site over the past few months. Last month, during the company’s annual End of Reason sale, it allowed users to browse its entire catalogue on its mobile site.

“During the sale, we got reasonable data that many people were using the mobile site and now, we are reopening it for good,” said Ambarish Kenghe, head of products at Myntra. “But this is not a revenue-related decision. We want to give customers an additional reason to use Myntra. This move will eventually result in more app installs.”

Mint reported on 30 November that Myntra will reopen its mobile site.

Myntra, which shut its mobile website in March 2015, closed its desktop website in May 2015 and became an app-only online store, in an attempt to dominate mobile commerce. The majority of online retail, though not nearly all, is expected to happen through smartphones by 2020. To prepare the organization for this, Myntra became an app-only platform.

The app-only move was criticized by many analysts and investors as restrictive, extreme and simply unnecessary, especially in light of intense competition from Jabong, Amazon India and Snapdeal.

Initially, sales dropped for the first two or three months, but Myntra said sales growth returned to normalized levels soon after. The company said its active monthly user base has nearly doubled to roughly 8 million since its app-only move.

Last month, Myntra generated annualized gross sales of $800 million, a 70% jump from January 2015, indicating it was still popular with many of its customers. Annualized gross sales are likely to return to around $600-650 million by March, the company estimated.

Still, the relaunch of Myntra’s mobile site represents an admission that its app-only strategy hasn’t worked as well as the company hoped earlier.

Kenghe disagreed.

“The relaunch of the mobile site is not a change in our strategy. We continue to be heavily focused on our new app. The mobile site will be functional and the app offers a far superior experience. We will keep nudging users to the app even on the mobile site (which will have a link to the app). The site will provide more information to customers before they start using the app,” Kenghe said.

Flipkart, too, relaunched its mobile site in November by introducing web-based apps.

Myntra hired a new chief executive officer, Ananth Narayanan, from consultancy McKinsey last year. Narayanan replaced Mukesh Bansal, who had already moved to a larger role at Flipkart. Bansal resigned from Flipkart last week to start his own venture.

Under Narayanan, Myntra has cut discounts (although they still remain at high levels) and supply chain costs. The CEO has also announced a target of reaching $1 billion in gross sales by March 2017.

Investors say for Myntra to reach that target, it may have to reopen its desktop site.

“Going by their current numbers, $1 billion is quite ambitious. They will need all revenue streams possible to reach it. And in the first place, Myntra didn’t need to shut its site at all. Many consumers still want to have the option of shopping from laptops. Why would you want to deny them that?” asked one venture capital investor, on condition of anonymity.

But Kenghe said there’s no plan to reopen the desktop site.

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