Myntra, the online fashion portal that went app-only this May, has relaunched its mobile site but without the ability to make purchases, for which customers still need the app. Popular categories like Shirts, Shoes, Dresses Saris, Bags are live on the mobile website and according to sources Myntra will add to the catalogues in these sections.
Customers who type myntra.com/dresses can see the catalogue, but to make the purchase they need to open the app. The company’s spokespersons have refused to comment on the development. The desktop website is just a banner page pointing to the app.
Myntra’s so-called ‘App u-turn’ comes soon after Flipkart, the parent company which too relaunched its own mobile website. It was reported that Flipkart planned to go the app-only route this year as well.
In Flipkart’s case, the mobile site is only accessible on Chrome browser on Android phones but the Myntra mobile site is working across iOS and Android. With Myntra, the focus still appears to be around the app since an actual purchase is not possible on the mobile website.
Of course, the app-only strategy at Flipkart and Myntra has raised eyebrows, even within other e-commerce players.
Rival companies like Snapdeal insisted that for them currently app-only is not an option. In an interaction with IndianExpress, Flipkart-competitor Snapdeal’s product chief Anand Chandrasekaran had said that companies can’t take away choices from customers. When asked if app-only was a feasible strategy, he said, “For us, it is not an ‘or’ decision. It is an ‘and’ decision. We want to offer the best app and web experience.”
Going app-only comes with its risks. At the time when Myntra had shut down its desktop site, we had noted that for many users this was still a preferred option. For users with small screens app-only shopping was never the best experience as it does not give a complete picture about the dress/clothing they plan to order. Then of course, with RBI’s two-step verification, online payment is still a fragmented experience and on an app this can be even harder. Plus, users who don’t have good connectivity might face issues while confirming an order.
But there is no denying that mobile browsing is increasing across the board for e-commerce websites as a 2015 Mary Meeker report on the state of the Internet in India noted. The report had said that Indian e-commerce websites like Snapdeal, Flipkart are seeing close to 70 per cent of their business order from GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) from mobile, which is much higher than e-commerce giants from China like Alibaba.com and JD.com.
In Myntra’s case, the company appears to have tweaked its app-only approach. Now, whether it rolls out a full-fledged mobile website or even goes back on the desktop platform, will be a closely-watched affair.