On May 15, 2015 Myntra shut down its website and goes app only. That means if you shop on Myntra, you have to download and install their app in order to order items. 6 days later Economic Times reports 10% dip in their sales. Flipkart, Myntra’s parent company had already shut down its mobile website in February 2015.

Why did they do it? They are betting big on big data. Big data is the backbone of today’s companies. Analyzed well, this data gives us precious insights into the mind of the crowd. But too much reliance of data is a double-edged sword.

Mukesh Bansal, CEO of Myntra tried to describe the move.

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

There are goods and bads with this approach. Let’s discuss goods first:

Data mining provides users a highly customized experience

There are huge data mining opportunities with native apps. You can have mountains of user data which you can mine to provide customized experience for every single user. For example if you search more than often for books, they can suggest you more of the kinds of books you like to read.

Push notifications have higher engagement ratios

Push notifications have higher engagement ratios

Push notifications have a higher engagement rates. Combine with data-mining, you can really understand what a user really wants and notify them for carefully-picked offers.

Geo-targeting with location

Sensors in smartphones provide companies with valuable geo-data. Which they can use to further personalize the experience for them. For example, they can use you location data to suggest you things that are trending for that specific location.

Better feedback

With push notification and app reviews, feedback is instant and more engaged. Users can quickly provide feedback whenever they are not happy with something. This is a better approach as not everybody seems to use email these days.

But there are bads also. And they are pretty bad.

Users like options

People like having options even if they are shopping from mobile only. It gives them a sense of freedom, and in some cases they actually use other options. Democracy is based on this idea of having options to choose.

If you try to force your consumers, they will go someplace else

You can’t force your consumers, you can’t trap them. If you even try, they will go to your competition. There are endless options today. With app only move, they are trying to push users to install their apps. Which can hurt their brand image.

With moves like this, people think you don’t respect them, and you lose loyalty

Mobile only users may like this move, but desktop users will hate them for it. In the hyper-connected world of today, bad reviews might actually hurt you in real. Depriving desktop users of accessing your services will make them think that you don’t care about them.

It narrows down research options

People often research before buying something online. In fact, people research very much. A mobile app narrows down research possibilities. We already know how tedious it is to research and compare on a mobile phone. This may be a hidden objective in going app only.

Our thoughts

We are living in consumer driven age. So we should try to make decisions keeping them in mind. Amazon, Snapdeal, and Jabong have decided not to follow moves like these.

“We believe that as a consumer-obsessed company, we have to enable our customers to shop anytime, anywhere, and anyway they want.” – Akshay Sahi, customer experience head, Amazon India
This is where Amazon’s strength lies. They think consumer first. And this is a smart move by Amazon which has vastly more experience than Flipkart and Myntra. This will additionally provide Amazon a marketing differentiation.

“We strongly believe customers should have the choice to buy either on his smartphone or on the computer. It’s still 50-50 for us.” – Praveen Sinha, founder of Jabong
And this is true. Maybe in future trend will shift completely to mobile. But right now, it’s wise to stay relevant. PCs are not dead and people still buy from PCs. But there’s a saying in entrepreneur world:

“Fail fast, fail often.”

Will this strategy will be successful? Only time will tell. Right now, reaction is mixed. Some people are furious, some don’t have any issues. We are not against mobile, but we find mobile-only approach constraining. Flipkart and Myntra have already taken their chances, now it’s our turn to decide.