Interview - Digital Disruption: Plan, Plot and Invest
Ananth Narayanan, Chief Executive Officer, Myntra
Disrupting the business with new technology is a systematic process involving multiple phases of development and testing before implementation
Digitization has improved customer experience, productivity and turnaround time for businesses. In your opinion, what should be the strategic focus – disrupting the business with new technology or improving existing technology for competitive advantage?
Disruption is integral to the domain and it is cutting edge. Even as the focus of the operating business has to be continuous, with improvements in existing technology to adapt to a fast evolving digital ecosystem, future business demands that we plan, plot and invest in disruption, as well as manage disruptions that may occur. No technology based business can exist with only one of the two legs.
Technology is at the heart of our system and has shaped our growth since inception. Improvising upon existing technology to provide our customers and partners with an exceptional experience is a continuous process at Myntra with teams working round-the-clock to ensure the same. It certainly gives us a competitive advantage in terms of customer experience and turnaround time. Disrupting the business with new technology is a systematic process involving multiple phases of development and testing before implementation.
We are open to exploring new technologies that can bring change to the way fashion is accessed and consumed and also in line with our mission, which is ‘to use technology to democratize fashion & lifestyle to make people look good.’
Acquisition of Jabong has strengthened Flipkart Group’s position in the Fashion and Lifestyle segment. In your opinion, how will this impact the customers’ mindshare and what are your plans to prevent market cannibalization?
The Group today occupies 70 % of the market. The acquisition of Jabong has strengthened our position and we plan to continue operating it as a separate entity so that customers can continue to enjoy the brand experience.At the same time, we expect some synergies on the technology side and will collaborate at the back end; so that customers of both Myntra and Jabong can benefit by having an enhanced customer experience, access to more brands and a faster turnaround time.While there is some overlap in our customers, both entities have a clear and strong positioning in the minds of the customers and hence there is limited potential for cannibalization.
When every industry is trying to go online, Myntra is introducing its physical store. Technology being the company’s forte, how do you plan to use it to make this store stand out?
In fashion, customer behavior is guided by their sense of comfort with the brand, and the touch-feel factor; hence we decided to adopt an omni-channel strategy. Our physical store will transform brand experiences using technology. It is being designed as an experience zone and an extension to the way in which customers currently experience fashion before undertaking a purchase.
In the past you have mentioned that your motivation is to disrupt fashion which you believe can be done across the value chain. How do you think technology can improve services across the value chain?
At the services end, technology will deliver on two big scores: greater efficiency and customer intimacy that delivers a very high degree of personalized experience.
Technology is at the centre of all our operations and functions. Automation has helped us to streamline processes in a manner that allows us to deliver products to our customers with the least turnaround time.
Automation through the entire value chain, from inbound to outbound logistics and the sales platform is monitored real time by our expert tech team that is constantly working to improve efficiency and eliminate slip-ups through the entire system. Increasing levels of automation therefore has a correlation to customer satisfaction and this is possible only with class leading technology.
The other elements that are fundamentally changing consumer experience are the intuitive aspects which help customers navigate the vast array of options with ease along with enlarging social aspects of online shopping. Personalization of the onsite experience is today an expected benchmark as customers don’t want to simply browse and waste time, but be led to choices that are within their spectrum of preferences.
Digital revolution has empowered your customers with more information and more options to choose from. How is Myntra leveraging on predictive analytics to generate customer engagement and ensure efficient inventory management?
Data analytics tells us a lot about customer preferences, tastes, brands and trends with respect to geographies. Our systems generate detailed logs of each and every customer who has shopped on our platform, monitors their browsing patterns and social chats to predict preferences and suggest products. It goes on to the extent of advising matching tops or skirts for an occasion based on what is already available in the customer’s wardrobe. We are also able use this data to provide insights to our brand partners on designs and styles that would be in demand for the upcoming season or sale event using predictive analytics, ensuring effective inventory management.
One of the important ways to ensure the quality of customer experience is logistics. How is Myntra using digitally enabled best practices to make its supply chain more efficient and cost effective?
In order to strengthen and make our logistics and supply chain more efficient, we have a system for real-time tracking of shipments and also use location mapping for improved intra-city logistics. This also helps us predict estimated time of delivery irrespective of it being handled by us or our partners. We have improved our ability to track movement across multiple service providers and are also ensuring optimum utilization of our delivery force which is in the range of 90%. We are also continually focusing on last-mile customer experience with the use of technology. We currently ship over one hundred thousand orders per day on an average and are also focused on providing value added solutions such asTry and Buy, Returns (quality checks), exchanges, alterations and reverse logistics, all of which are achieved to the highest standards of service through technology.
In the recent light of demonetization, what digital solutions can the e-commerce industry capitalize on to reduce their operational bottlenecks?
From an operational perspective, existing digital solutions provided by companies in association with banks and other payment solutions are adequate for e-commerce companies to capitalize upon. Companies are already witnessing a surge in online transactions owing to demonetization. At Myntra we have witnessed a 30% increase in prepaid transactions since November 9, 2016.
As per NASSCOM estimates, India - the fastest growing base for technology startups globally, will expand at the rate of 75% every year until 2020. Presently, Indian startup ecosystem is going through a transition phase. In your opinion, how can the startups build competitive advantage to better cope with this phase?
Startups can build competitive advantage by not shifting focus from customers and concentrating efforts towards achieving its mission while keeping in mind the long term vision. Business environments and market conditions change quite often. Startups should focus on building strong and resilient businesses that are not impacted by economic or other changes in the business environment.