On 15th May, Myntra.com one of India’s forerunners in the online shopping scenario began to painfully dig its own grave.
I was one of the earliest adopters of Myntra.com, swayed at the time by their lip smacking offers, like “Get Rs 1000 off when you shop for Rs 2000” or something similiar. I forget exactly what. It’s been more than a couple of years. Myntra quickly shot to fame, and became trustworthy and a household name. I remember that at the time I would recommend Myntra.com to close friends who asked for recommendations of a trustworthy site,. Many were wary of providing credit card details online. Mytra was known for its ‘Easy returns’ policy, and friendly customer service. One could easily order any clothes without worrying overtly about whether it was a perfect fit. If it wasn’t the right fit, Myntra.com would easily replace it. They even had pickup facility. I lost track of the number of items my brother and I have bought from this store. It was so easy to order reliable branded clothing and shoes because of this store.
But with the announcement on 15th May, 2015, Myntra.com may very well have dug its own grave. It announced with great pomp and fanfare (first page on The Hindu newspaper) that it was taking down its website and going app-only. What the hell?
One can easily come up with reasons why this is such a bad idea..
Rupesh Pradhan at Myntra.com, in response to my mail, had this to say:
I certainly understand your concern regarding our move towards the mobile app only.We provide a better shopping experience on our app than we could through any mobile browser. Our app learns you better with time, and allows us to give you a high quality personalized experience across all supported platforms.We’re making a bold move with an aim to better your experience. We’re confident that those customers who unfortunately can’t migrate with us will join us in the near future as technology also adapts to this shopping revolution.We hate leaving anyone behind, and won’t stop until we’ve found our way back to all of them.
It may be a better experience than a mobile browser, but it’s certainly worse than shopping on a PC with a large monitor, or a smart TV for the matter. I hate to see Myntra regress in this manner. What was wrong with offering customers a choice of both a website and app like all other sane companies do. Myntra was at the forefront of the shopping revolution in India. With this move, you will have effectively alienated a huge segment of users, who may now be using the app because of promotional offers, but will lose interest in the long term.
Apps are definitely a poorer experience than huge screens which most homes have. Is it easier for a family to look at shopping choices and make opinion, looking at the big screen, or squinting at a tiny mobile screen. Small may be better in some cases, but not all. Will the developers of your app consent to code their application on their mobile phone or tablet alone? Sometimes apps have issues with payment gateways.
The app may “learn with time”. The same is possible for a desktop program equipped with the same algorithms. Once it is customized for the user who logged in, there is no difference between an Android app and a web application. Or is Myntra suggesting that the app installed on my smartphone is actually, and without my consent, tracking my online activities and my location, thereby improving Myntra’s marketing, at the risk of being akin to spyware? Come on, that’s paranoid even for me. Heaven save Myntra.com, if they’re too stupid as to do that.
Hopefully Myntra.com has in it to reconsider before being left behind. It’s alright to adopt technology. But foolish to be overwhelmingly blinkered. If I’m proven wrong about this in the coming years, I’ll eat my hat.