With his plain full-arm shirt tucked firmly inside neatly ironed trousers, clean-shaven Mukesh Bansal, soft-spoken and hesitant, looks like a cross between a college teacher and a banker. But what the 39-year-old is trying is to reinvent the future of fashion shopping.
Beginning this Friday, Myntra.com, the fashion website he founded before making it a part of broad-based e-tailer Flipkart.com, will go apps-only. Which means you can shop on it only if you download its app and not on its website. Flipkart is expected to go the same way, though no date has been set.
For Myntra, this is a fashion statement in the run-up to a futuristic world of shopping in which apps will become a mall of sorts on a mobile handset, where you can surf, shop and even hang out with friends, as if it was a Facebook for shoppers. Behind the cool façade lies a smart business strategy.
“In future, we may allow you to have your own virtual studio,” says the IIT-an who dabbled in many dotcoms in the US before returning to India in 2007 to found the company. There will also be a social interface where people can try on their clothes virtually and ask their friends what suits them better.
Myntra is targeting 5 million app downloads over the next four months, and sees a big potential in the Indian market that is expected to have 600 to 700 million smartphones by 2020. Citing a recent study, the company says 90% of India’s smartphone users currently numbering 158 million already use apps.
But there is more to this. Mobile apps are more appropriate for impulse purchases.
“ In fashion, impulse plays a better role. The percentage of transactions is higher in apps,” says Bansal. And he adds that apps can also help in tracking inventories at the backend, making it a smarter retail business.
“Ïn the long term, innovation wins. This (apps) is about winning where it really matters,”says Bansal.