Is Myntra's app-only approach the wave of the future?

Myntra, the country’s largest fashion retail portal, closed down its website on Friday and moved to a app-only platform. Its parent company, Flipkart, plans to follow suit within a year -- the move will probably depend on how successful Myntra is but for now, it is in the works.

Myntra, the country’s largest fashion retail portal, closed down its website on Friday and moved to an app-only platform. Its parent company, Flipkart, plans to follow suit within a year -- the move will probably depend on how successful Myntra is, but for now, it is in the works.

Many of us -- the desktop generation -- find the move to be a little ludicrous. No way to access the site from the desktop? No presence on the Internet as we know it? Not even a mobile website... isn't it a little too alienating; too risky? Won't the app-only approach be an invasion of privacy?

But here's what the desktop generation doesn't see. The new India is experiencing the Internet for the first time through the mobile; after all who needs a desktop when they can buy a pocket-sized super computer for much less money. Making your internet debut on your mobile also changes the way you access the internet -- it is more chat and app driven and very rarely do you use the browser.

And that is the punt Myntra is making.

The company says that 95 percent of Internet traffic comes through mobile, and 70 percent sales are generated through smartphones. So even if desktop users abandon the website, they aren't really losing too much.

Interestingly, over 50 percent of their mobile traffic is coming from Tier II & III cities, which only goes to show that their core audience is in the smaller cities (read as the ones who are going to access the internet through their mobile first) and that will continue to grow.

Also, if you do have a store in the vicinity, you are likely to make the trip and check out the fit before deciding on anything. Ordering clothes online seems logical only when a certain brand isn't available in your city and that is why Myntra's focus on Tier II & III cities makes even more sense.

According to a recent report from Morgan Stanley, online shopper penetration in India is set to increase from 9 percent in 2013 to 36 percent by 2020, primarily led by mobile users.

The e-retail market in India is also expected to rise from $5 billion in 2015 to over $130 billion by 2025 and this is the space where Myntra is hoping to make the first-mover advantage count.

One can fully expect Myntra to up the ante with app-only deals that will make the user readily download the app -- a win-win situation for those who already access the site and for the new users too. Given how the app universe works,users always have the option of deleting if it doesn't work for them.

So in a sense, it makes the user more powerful and also means that Myntra will really have to rise to the expectations. They will have to show that there is value in downloading the app and keeping it.

Mukesh Bansal, Myntra CEO also feels that smartphones are going to drive online shopping in the future. He says that the company will now put all its efforts to leverage its mobile shopping experience.

“Fashion is a very personal experience. We believe that only mobile can truly deliver this experience as it captures user’s lifestyle and context in manner that no other medium does. Think of all the hardware and software features that one can leverage like camera, contact, location etc. to understand the user’s context and deliver the experience that is deeply personalized,” he said.

Personalization has its benefits but it also means that there can't be too many notifications (too irritating) or too few (a danger of being forgotten). Getting the balance right will be vital.

For the moment, main rivals Amazon and Snapdeal won't be adopting an app-only strategy but they will be keeping a close eye on things. Myntra, on the other hand, will be hoping that it has not only seen a glimpse of the future but also chosen the right time to jump in.

What are your views on Myntra's app-only approach?

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