Popular ecommerce site Myntra set a record of sorts when it decided to close down its website and operate exclusively on its mobile app. This change, which came into effect from the 15th of May, has sent the online shopping world into a tizzy. The purpose behind this, the company says, is because it has tracked 90% of its traffic and 70% of its sales to the mobile app. It also wants to personalize a user’s shopping experience.
What will happen to the non-mobile users then? Is Myntra willing to sacrifice the percentage of sales that come through desktop users? There are a small minority of users over the age group of 40, who are not necessarily comfortable with using apps on their mobile. There are also a handful of net savvy senior citizens, who carry out their shopping online. Is it prudent to drop this small percentage as collateral damage in favour of a (assumed) majority?
I find it hard to believe that working on a desktop can be termed impersonal. My desktop or laptop is my personal device, of course larger in size. I may also have some limitations in carrying it to all the places where I possibly take my mobile. Difficult, but not impossible. Today I can carry my laptop with me even when I am travelling, with most modes of transport having plug points for charging devices. Connectivity to the Internet is also possible in transit.
Online sellers today sell anything like groceries, appliances, clothes, shoes, furniture etc. The customer pool is not limited to a twenty something demographic. Generally, people over the age of forty will find it difficult to view the much smaller mobile screen compared to the comfort of a desktop screen.
Another major disadvantage is internet speed on mobile. There are limitations on mobile internet speed and costs; (particularly for those on 2G) making it slightly more difficult than browsing on a desktop. Apart from this, a mobile app will have access to details like location, contacts, browsing history and so on. Not many will be comfortable with this intrusion. I prefer to keep the number of apps on my phone limited due to precisely the same reason.
Myntra has a good service, courteous staff, and an easy exchange and returns facility. Sadly, its popularity is all set to drop with this drastic measure. I was a big fan of Myntra because of the good user experience that the website provided, as well as the support the staff provided on a couple of occasions. Unlike Flipkart’s customer service, which is all over the place, (one email gets responses from different employees each time), Myntra’s is much more customer/user friendly.
Personally, I would not bother with installing the app, and browsing on my mobile to shop. I find it much more convenient to browse on my desktop. It is easier to compare products and open different tabs to view the products.
Quite a few others share my opinion. Users have expressed their ire on various platforms. Many users have put up their feedback on the Google play store website. Complaints ranged from the app not working properly, to problems using it on a 4.5 inch screen, to prices going up after products were added to the cart, to problems with exchanges, to taking several hours to process one order. Many users have outright said that they will be shifting loyalties. To Myntra’s credit, they have tried to respond to as many of the comments as they can with remedies, but nobody is really happy.
A review on wereiew.in lists out the problems that the reviewer faced while using the app. Aptly titled ‘un-appy shopping experience’, the piece says that the sort and refine function and the very important size help option are faulty.
Many users have expressed fears over Flipkart going the app way. Reports in Trak.in and NDTV Gadgets are also speculating that this possibility might become a reality soon. Some have outright hoped that Flipkart (which purchased Myntra in May 2014) will learn from the pitfalls of going app-only.
I hope Flipkart does not shut down its website. As a leading ecommerce site, it stands to lose a major chunk of its customers if it decides to operate only through the app. Compared to other online sellers Flipkart has a solid delivery system in place, despite the occasional gaffe. I have stuck to Flipkart for my shopping needs for multiple reasons. I am familiar with the website and its layout, and I have so far had a fairly hassle free delivery. On one occasion, they did a mix-up with my order, but were fairly understanding with the returns and the refund.
Other online shopping destinations like Jabong, Amazon, Snapdeal, Fashionara among others are making hay while the sun shines. Unwittingly, Mytra has transferred a good chunk of its loyal clientele to its competitors.
I have also slowly started experimenting with a few other shopping sites. Sadly, the experience is not as smooth as it was with Myntra. One service provider tried calling me once, and when I did not pick, termed the parcel as ‘returned’, and sent me an SMS stating that! I would prefer to stick to familiar turf, and continue to shop at Flipkart, fervently hoping that they keep their website open!
It could be possible that we are jumping the gun and judging Myntra too quickly. The problems we are facing could be a part of the initial hiccups. There is every possibility of the mobile app overcoming the hurdles and we getting a smooth shopping experience.
Other online sellers should learn from the outcome of the Myntra app only move. It is clear that as customers, we are unhappy. Forcing us to subscribe to a particular way of shopping is not going to go down well with everyone. Sellers need to listen to their customers and figure out what will work best. At the end of the day, major decisions like this has to be in the best interests of all stakeholders.