Why Myntra’s App-only Dream Gets Shattered

by CXOtoday News Desk    May 04, 2016


Fashion e-tailer Myntra, the first website in India to go app-only a year ago, is reportedly re-launching its desktop website. The move indicates how desktop/mobile websites are still not dead and that Google continues to enjoy its dominance in online ad spending.

Myntra CEO Ananth Narayanan said the decision to go app-only was a “bold” experiment and that the company has realised some consumers want the choice of a desktop site. “We tried to do this last year because we thought we can offer consumers a much better experience on the mobile. While that is still true that the mobile experience is far superior to the web, we have recognized that some consumers still want the option to shop on the web,” he said in a statement. 

Moving to app-only

Myntra, which was acquired by Flipkart in 2014, closed down its desktop site and moved completely to an app-only platform in May last year. This meant users had no choice but to download their app. This decision was taken based on the company’s quick growth of smartphones as it claimed 95 percent of its Internet traffic came through mobile and 70 percent sales were generated through smartphones.

However, the move pushed by Myntra and its parent company Flipkart did not yield desired results. Bangalore-based Flipkart, which followed a similar strategy, realized in November last year that altogether withdrawing from the mobile web would not be the right decision.  Flipkart said in November that it would introduce web-based apps that will potentially make it easier and more convenient for people to shop on mobile phone browsers. A few days later, rival Snapdeal said it too would launch a mobile web app to offer faster and app-like experience to web users.

Why app-only is not the way

The move is significant for e-commerce industry on the whole, which many believe would rely only on apps, given that we are proceeding to live in an app-economy. While that’s something one would not ignore (in the foreseeable future) currently, e-tailing companies are revisiting their mobile web strategies.

There’s more than one reason why a mobile site makes more sense rather than going app-only. In case of Myntra, the shift seemed abrupt rather than a gradual one as Indian audiences aren’t necessarily ready to completely abandon shopping from their PCs or mobile browsers. For those consumers (whether small or large) comfortable with a desktop or mobile browser should be allowed to do so. Getting too restrictive could only mean people will start looking for more convenient options, said a TOI report.

One of the biggest hurdles for a mobile-only experience is the not-so-stable mobile Internet network in India. There is no denying that this is one of the biggest reasons why industry giants from Google to Facebook are working towards a web version.

Another obvious reason is we still rely on Google searches to attract a considerable chunk of traffic and substantiate the fact that web is not dead. In other words, companies still rely on Google searches for new users and ensure their products are on the top of the list.

The way forward

While the mobile revolution is just happening, experts believe it would not make sense to discard the old school desktop browsing completely. As Snapdeal’s chief executive Kunal Bahl was critical of such an approach, ruling out a similar move in the near future at his own company. Without naming his competitors, Bahl said in an interview in TOI, “It is just the most customer-unfriendly approach. Our belief is that we need to be where users are; we can’t push users to go where we are.”

Bahl and some others believe this approach can be effectively in some more years when more people shop on mobile. For now it is not a very practical idea.”

Of course factors like mobile Internet penetration with 3G/4G, smartphone growth point towards a future of mobile shopping which may be app-only as well. But as of now, most e-commerce companies will continue to offer both desktop as well as mobile option for its customers and Myntra has (now) made a smart move believe analysts.