During the 2nd wave, Myntra teams setup a website to help people find O2 cylinders, concentrators & hospital beds: Raghu Krishnananda, CTO
In an interaction with Express Computer, Raghu Krishnananda, Chief Technology Officer, Myntra says that the fashion e-com company is a pioneer in deploying omnichannel technology, which has resulted in improved shopper experience and has enhanced the sales volumes at offline retail stores of the partner brands. He adds that the current edition of EORS had over 220 brands on the platform offering over 65,000 styles through its omninetwork of over 2,500 stores. He underlines that the brands which were onboarded via omnichannel integrations saw up to six times growth in sales during the June End of Reason Sale (EORS) last year, compared to business as usual (BAU) sales. Also, Myntra’s multicultural lifestyle brand Taavi, has partnered with 10,000 artisans amidst the pandemic to help the artisans sustain their livelihood in these difficult times. The 14th edition of Myntra’s EORS which is drawing to a close, opened to a record start on 3rd July with the highest ever single-day traffic sessions, at a 200% growth over normal days and also recorded the biggest ever spike in new app installs by customers, at one million. The result was a six times growth in sales over normal days on the first day of the event. In the pre-sale period, Gamification attracted twice the number of people to the platform than the December edition of EORS, roughly engaging 2 million shoppers.
Please share your experience of experiments with emerging technologies in the last few months? What has been the biggest experiment so far this year with respect to technology adoption?
We introduced Myntra Studio, a one-stop destination for original and exclusive content in fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Here, we have had over a thousand top fashion influencers of the country publish articles, images and videos which provide fashion inspiration to our customers to make informed purchase decisions. Users can very easily buy the products the models or celebrities are wearing in these images and videos at the click of a button. We see very good traction with users engaging with this content. We developed an end-to-end video platform to enable this feature.
We continue to invest heavily in data science and we use ML models across the value chain. We use ML models to provide our users personalised product recommendations and user experience. We have made some initial strides to solve the ‘Size & Fit’ problem to recommend the right size for the user irrespective of the brand he/she chooses. We use ML here as well.
We have experimented with and deployed RFID based solutions across our warehouse processes to accurately track, sort and ship packages and reduce leakages.
We are also continuously improving the experience for our sellers on our partner portal platform. Beyond basic reporting and dashboards, we provide Insights to enable them to make better data driven decisions.
What have been some of your biggest learnings in the last 15 months of the pandemic in India that has badly crippled the economy?
While the pandemic has disrupted every aspect of normal living, we focused on supporting the pillars of our organisation and industry, which includes our employees, customers, partners, and the overall ecosystem. Some of the initiatives undertaken include:
Taking care of employee well being – As an employee centric organisation the safety and holistic wellbeing of our people has been paramount for us. While we introduced a slew of measures to help employees navigate through the challenges of the unprecedented times last year, including work from anywhere, to no meeting days – a lot of the initiatives and policies continue to evolve to meet the demands of the current volatile situation. Myntraites today also can tap into the pool of unlimited wellness leaves, Covid care leaves to take care of family members, vaccination assistance, 24X7 helpdesk on Covid supplies to name a few.
Understanding customer needs – Going deep into understanding the evolving need states of customers and then coming up with solutions to address those needs with agility. Eg. selection- when the lockdown was announced last year, we wanted to map our offerings to customer demand. We saw a great need for masks and sanitisers, and we were quick to work with brand partners and launched masks and sanitisers in no time. Another thing that we did is to increase the selection in loungewear and T-shirts to support the shift to WFH. This helped us get back into operations while also serving the immediate needs of the customers and thus stay relevant. We introduced safety features like contact-less delivery, temperature checks among others to meet the evolving need states of the customers.
Innovating and experimenting – Omnichannel scale-up has been one of the key growth drivers for us where we have been able to help several brands to continue to get market access in times where offline has faced challenges of operational disruption in face of the pandemic. We have integrated with a network of over 2500 plus stores across 22 cities in the country. We introduced M-Mall, India’s first digital mall to simulate the ‘shopping in a mall’ experience. This is a one-of-a-kind feature that can cater to the needs of brand-specific shoppers, providing them a distraction-free environment, while offering the brands a unique platform to connect with their customers like never before.
We accelerated some of our content-led commerce initiatives as we saw a number of first time shoppers especially from tier two and three cities coming online. We wanted to provide relevant content to these users to provide fashion inspiration and help them make informed purchase decisions. To address this, we introduced Myntra Studio, to keep our users engaged with relevant and interesting content.
Another need of the hour was to be agile and continue to experiment with new features to address various needs of customers. Here are a few examples: TAT-based filters for users to be able to filter search results based on delivery time, selective checkout where users can check out and purchase a subset of items which they have saved into their shopping bag, Style Exchange for users to be able to return a product and purchase a completely different product all in a single transaction, Enhanced Beauty Products Page to show all available shades and ability for users to select different skin tones to find the most suitable shade and many more.
Supporting the ecosystem- Being among the leading players in the industry, our responsibility towards the ecosystem is something we take very seriously. In the initial stages of the pandemic, we met with our vendor partners to understand how we could be of assistance to them and assured them of the constant inflow of orders while also ensuring that their payment timelines wouldn’t be impacted. Our multicultural lifestyle brand Taavi, has partnered with 10,000 artisans. In times of the pandemic, we made sure that our work with them continued smoothly which in turn helped the artisan community sustain their livelihood in these difficult times.
During the peak of the second wave of the pandemic, when many were finding it difficult to access verified information on resource availability, members from our engineering and product teams came together to help people find qualified leads through quickly putting together a website for verifiable resources on oxygen cylinders, concentrators, medicines and hospital beds etc. We enabled users to be able to donate their Insider Points (loyalty points) towards purchase of oxygen cylinders and medical equipment. Users can also add an additional amount towards Covid relief efforts through our charity check-out feature.
Myntra is a frontrunner in the space of omnichannel technology. How have you scaled that up in the last few months? What does the roadmap look like?
Myntra is a pioneer in the space of deploying omnichannel technology at scale. This has not only resulted in improved shopper experience, but has also enhanced the sales volumes at offline retail stores of partner brands. The concept is today giving impetus to bringing online and offline channels closer like never before, to start a new chapter in the industry in terms of collaboration, that is rewarding to the customers and the brands. Brands which were onboarded via omnichannel integrations saw up to six times growth in sales during the June End of Reason Sale (EORS) last year, compared to BAU sales. Omnichannel has a multifold objective for us-
1) Offer the largest width of selection under one roof to our customers. If it’s available anywhere in the country, it’s available to our customers.
2) Create non-linear growth opportunities for our partners by creating more opportunities to showcase and sell inventory in both online and offline channels.
In this ongoing EORS, scheduled between July 3 and 8, we have over 220 brands on the platform offering over 65,000 styles through a network of over 2,500 stores. The last few years have been a tremendous success in terms of shaping the ecosystem to bring omni at par with other aspects such as consistency of promise, inventory, operations, etc. at scale. Given that omni, now operates at a very healthy fulfillment rate, the next few years will be about bringing the right set of experiences for both online first and offline first customers to use our platform to shop at their own convenience and avail Myntra services and benefits for the best shopping experience.
Let’s talk about the consumers. You had nine lakh styles on the offer this EORS. Can you help us understand how a customer finds exactly what they need? How have you taken care of your customer base this year?
With over nine lakh styles available to choose from, our users can get overwhelmed with choices. It is imperative to provide a seamless experience for our users in order for them to be able to navigate our platform easily. Here are a few examples of how we are enabling this.
We introduced TAT-based filters for users to be able to filter search results based on delivery time for customers for whom delivery speed is very important. We even have pictorially defined filters based on body shapes and users can search based on this.
We have also made it easy for users to buy an entire look (comprising the main item as well as complementary products and accessories) shown in the Product Page of a catalog.
For brand-conscious customers who know exactly the brand that they want to purchase, we have created a virtual mall on our platform called Myntra Mall where Brands can set up their own unique brand stores with their latest products.
Talking of personalisation, what are some of the latest enhancements you have done in the space of personalisation that the customers will benefit from during the upcoming EORs?
We have enhanced our personalisation experience with recommendations for similar products and complementary products as well as sort order in list and search pages, search filter options, ordering of payment options and reordering of widgets on the homepage based on our deep understanding of the user as well as expertise in fashion. We also use AI to give customer-specific size and fit recommendations, giving them confidence about the product they are purchasing.
During this EORS, we have kept all of our personalisation features turned on for the first time by redesigning and scaling the related systems to be able to handle this volume of millions of users and still be able to give a personalised experience to every individual user across nine lakh styles on our platform.
We are also taking the personalisation game a notch higher with near real-time (NRT) signals. We are able to personalise the home page experience based on the in-session activity of the customer, as against relying on the historical understanding of user preference. This will provide a personalised experience based on the user’s current context.
Myntra has also ramped up on the Beauty and Personal Care (BPC) space in the last few quarters? Is the tech implementation the same or different for BPC vis-a-vis fashion?
Beauty and Personal Care (BPC) is a high growth category for Myntra and we are set to scale our offerings by two times by the end of this year in the category. To match this ambition, we have ramped up our efforts on the BPC space with our tech innovations. We have a 15-day hassle-free return policy for BPC products to ensure our customers have the best experience on our platform. We have enhanced our product page by showing all available color shades as well as enabled the ability for users to select skin tones to find the most suitable shade easily. We are also experimenting with Rich PDP and different content layouts for BPC. We also show the Certificate of Authenticity for all our BPC products. We have some exciting new features planned to make it an even more immersive and helpful experience for our users.