Friday, August 23, 2019

Wooing the millennial fashion shopper with technology

By Smita Sinha | December 31, 2018

Having captured the e-commerce space in fashion retailing, Myntra is now betting big on technology to ride the third wave of retail in the country. VM&RD catches up with Manohar Kamath, CXO & Head, Myntra Fashion Brands and understands how the brand leverages technology to enhance customer experience.

For an entity that calls itself a technology company, Myntra has come a long way in the fashion retailing space. Last year the brand crossed $1 billion in GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume).

The company achieved over 50% annual growth and Myntra and Jabong together hold 40% market share in the country’s online fashion business.

So what has fuelled the retailer’s journey on the fast growth lane? Well, it emerges that technology has been an integral factor in the way it engages its target audience.

Using technology for better customer connect

Myntra actively applies technology to all aspects of its retail business, whether it is in terms of the product design, the back-end processes or the shopping interface.

At the product level, for example, a high-tech jacket that lets you take calls, play your favourite song or shuffle music, is not so futuristic in Myntra’s scheme of things. In fact, the company is actively exploring ways of developing such products.

At the back-end level too, the company’s innovation lab is continuously working to disrupt the fashion industry. The brand has also invested in artificial intelligence and machine learning-based platform,Vorta, to cut down the design process time and analyse/predict design trends. Much of these applications are driven by data, which is used to drive better consumer experience.

Elaborating on technology being at the core of the brand’s business, Manohar Kamath, CXO & Head, Myntra Fashion Brands, says, “Myntra is a technology company in the business of fashion retail. ”

This focus on technology and fashion stems from a very clear reason -- a bulk of the retailer’s target audience comprise of the millennials. Says Kamath, “We give exactly what the millennial consumers want. So Myntra fashion brands offers a wide range which is high on fashion trends. Fast Fashion, combined with our ability to reach the consumer through the digital channels, works very well in delighting our target consumers.”

Creating a high-tech retail environment

Much of the brand’s tech initiatives can be seen at the retail level, particularly for its private brand ‘Roadster’. This casual denim apparel brand from the stables of Myntra is one of the largest revenue generators for the company. In just under five years it has overtaken international brands present in India in terms of the pace of growth.

No wonder, ‘Roadster’ was the retailer’s natural choice to foray into the brick and mortar space. So cashing in on the online success, Myntra entered the offline space through a franchise partner in June 2017 with Roadster, thus creating an omni-channel retail presence. Currently, the brand has three stores in the country. Talking about Roadster, Manohar Kamath, says, “Roadster is built on a platform which is the endless aisle concept. It has 12,000 live-range options available online, which is more than 3-4 Casual wear / denim brands put together.”

The first Roadster store introduced several unique features, including a video wall, touch-sensitive displays, green screen technology, virtual reality etc. The unique ‘Scan & Go’ purchase mechanism allows shoppers to add their favourites to their shopping cart on the Myntra App, doing away with shopping bags, checkout counters or billing queues.

Blending click and mortar for efficiency

In June this year, the fashion e-tailer opened its second offline store in Bengaluru, continuing its thrust on offering a smarter, faster and seamless retail experience. The store has RFID enabled digital screens along with three digital assistants. The idea is to combine the touch and feel human aspect of the brick and mortar environment, with the ease and convenience offered by the digital space. So even as you pick any product, the attached RFID screen offers all the online information you need about that particular product in real time, including multiple studio images, looks, price, size, colour, fabric, wash, etc.

What’s more, the brand follows a policy of uniform pricing across the online and offline retail spaces. Kamath explains, “Customers go to the offline store with a perception that online is cheaper. We wanted to break that. So a customer has the option of checking and comparing both the prices in real-time, while at the offline store.”

Check-out is another critical differentiator between the offline and online retail channels. Long queues and billing time drive many buyers away from the offline space. But at the Roadster store, it takes all of 30 seconds to bill a product, thanks to technology. Explains Kamath, “Customers can place all their products on the RFID tray, which captures the product details and displays the bill instantly. Post billing, the RFID tag is deactivated automatically.”
At the back end too, technology is used to replicate the online means of capturing data. So while traditionally offline stores use sales per square feet to understand buying trends, at the Roadster store it is all data driven. As Kamath explains, a computer vision based system tracks the number of people visiting the store and gives demographic based data such as age, gender, etc., besides footfall patterns.

But what really takes the cake is the possibility of having a trial room-free store through a computer vison based system. This means, a 3D mirror that scans the body and captures measurements. By using the data captured, the mirror helps the customer decide on the size and fitting of any garment without having to go to the trial room.

Says Kamath, while talking about this revolutionary technology, “This technology is under development. We are exploring ways of ensuring maximum privacy and comfort to the customers, while being able to help them in speedy purchase decisions. This means predicting the measurements and fitting for any garment that they pick up at the store in the least intrusive manner by using artificial intelligence.”

Well, it certainly looks like there’s no limit to what technology can do to make the millennial shopping experience smooth and hassle-free and Myntra is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring this.



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