hiddenOct 28, 2016 15:31:56 IST
By Mario D'Souza
Given their usual slew of promotions for the festive season, fashion e-commerce players have bet big on technology to boost Diwali revenue targets for the year. Smaller players too have left no stone unturned to maximize gain from loosened customer purse strings for this period, investing heavily in technology back-end platforms and front-end improvements, starting as early as February in some cases.
Backend technologies such as warehouse management and demand forecasting systems were the focus for Bengaluru-based CampusSutrra, a collegiate-fashion brand. Dhiraj Agarwal, co-founder, CampusSutra said, “We have invested close to Rs 8-10 lakh to build a customized backend model that works specifically for our needs, focusing only on technology upgrades that have given us maximum returns, including a demand forecasting capability to enable our supply chain to service orders from platforms like Myntra and Amazon.” CampusSutra has also created a real-time software for replenishable goods, along the lines of Walmart’s Retail Link tool that acts as a decision support system. At online fashion retailer Myntra, Products chief, Ambarish Kenghe adds, “We have assisted our brand partners with demand forecasting tools that help them manage demand from our platform.”
Delivering on end-user experience
A number of initiatives, both ongoing and specific, helped Flipkart-owned Myntra that recently acquired Jabong manage a seamless user experience. “The Myntra mobile app, at 15MB, is much smaller than competition, and does not take up valuable data space on phones. In terms of data usage too, the app takes uses little data according to customers,” says Kenghe. Keeping the patchy Indian cellular network in mind, Myntra has allowed for apps to adapt image resolution depending on the strength of the network. The retailer has also strengthened the payments wallet, with an improved service record of 20% over the previous year, delisting payment wallets that haven’t added value.
Adds Ajit Narayanan, SVP and Head-Engineering at Myntra, “To anticipate and manage the spike in demand during the promotion, we run continuous simulations that mimic actual user traffic patterns on the app. We also had admission control systems in place to manage a surge of traffic. This allowed us to queue users, and allow systematic access while also manage on-the-spot fixes as and when needed without diluting the end user experience.” Myntra’s microservice architecture was also built to scale out particular services on the app to manage the spikes in Diwali demand.
The Diwali demand for Myntra is similar to 25 times the usual BAU (business as usual) figure as seen in Myntra’s EORS (End of Reason sale) in July, adds Kenghe. A focus on scalable solutions has also helped the retailer manage the system of return and exchanges by and large without issue, during this period. Manoj Manalparambil, a designer at a Bengaluru based advertising agency said, “I had placed orders on Myntra during the Diwali promotion. They were delivered the same day, and I not only tried on the clothes but also returned them the same day! It was all on COD and there was no hassle at all.” Myntra had introduced the concept of ‘Try and Buy’, allowing users to try on clothes at home before paying through COD.
Logistics and supply chain were a key focus for CampusSutra as well.
What the future might look like
At Myntra, another feature rolled out during the festive period was the ‘Personalised Store’. Based on machine learning, and leveraging its extensive data centres, Myntra has translated information on customer browsing patterns, understanding price points and brand preferences, to show customers a store front on the app and desktop that is customised to their tastes. Kenghe said, “We can customise the store for everyone, based on both individual preference, and also by location. So for example, someone in Kolkata would have seen a different selection during Durga Pujo than a user elsewhere in the country at the same time.”
Even allied sectors such as jewelry and furniture have seen tech innovations being brought in, to differentiate brands in a crowded market. Online jewellery retailer BlueStone introduced Gold ATMs in Bengaluru and Delhi, where customers can purchase certified 24 carat gold coins between one to twenty grams in weight. Taking innovation in technology offline, the brand hopes to mimic the touch and feel aspect of the sector through these ATMs, while also providing customers both convenience of avoiding crowded stores and having to wait for products to be delivered home.
With a firm eye on retaining customer loyalty and growing revenues, e-commerce firms are now looking at technology to create brand differentiation that will prove hard to replicate for competition, giving customers reason for celebrations all year round!
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