Aishwarya Ramesh

"We want users on the app, even when they’re not shopping": Harish Narayanan, Myntra-Jabong

E-commerce brands are not being able to deliver most goods. No matter. Myntra is finding other ways to keep its consumers engaged.

To combat the spread of Coronavirus – which is rapidly spreading across the world – India announced a 21-day lockdown. As a result of the lockdown, e-commerce companies suspended delivery of non-essential goods. They've promised resumption of services after April 15. However, Myntra still wants its customers to continue to use, or check out, its app. The company has introduced a host of new app features that have little to do with its main offering - allowing users to remotely shop for clothes, shoes, bags, makeup items, etc.

The new features include home workouts, recipes, and games that aim to ultimately increase the time spent on the app. Harish Narayanan, CMO at Myntra-Jabong, has over a decade of experience as a marketer (of which, five years were spent as head of marketing at YouTube, APAC). At Myntra-Jabong, Narayanan leads a team that monitors the brand’s performance, content, loyalty programs, etc. He spoke with afaqs! about the app's new features, among other things. Edited excerpts:

Harish Narayanan
Harish Narayanan

Can you tell us the strategic intent behind introducing the new features on the app?

Well, this is a time when everyone is on lockdown, and we wanted to make things interesting for our customers and help where we can, so that’s why we came up with these engagement ideas. The idea is that as the leading fashion & lifestyle platform, we can enable users with ideas and content on fashion, fitness, health etc. We want to help our customers with ideas on being comfortable when they are working from home, inspiration for redesigning their homes, staying fit and healthy with workout plans etc. We’ve started selling masks, too, in partnership with Wildcraft. We’re doing what we can to help the consumer in these trying times.

How important is it to make people come to the app – irrespective of whether they can shop, or not? Is time spent on the app the new metric for you to gauge engagement, versus the previous barometer of transactions?

Engagement is always important. The point is we want our users to come to the app, even when they’re not shopping for a product. We also allow users to 'wishlist' items they’re interested in – it is a behavior that is very prevalent with our loyal users. Fashion, as a category, is where there is a habit of window shopping – even in the offline world. Even online, you can spend time on the Myntra app browsing designs and styles that interest you. Fashion shopping is very visual and enjoyable on our app, so that encourages strong daily usage.

The objective is to keep the platform at the top of the users' mind. We want to help users with their fashion and lifestyle journey. There are different ways of doing that – commerce and selling is one of them. We’ve launched Myntra’s Fashion Superstar – India’s first online fashion reality show, and that’s our way of engaging users with content. The show connected fashion influencers with fashion customers like never before, in an engaging and interactive format. We also offer Myntra Insider Masterclass, which is a virtual class with celebrities on how to style looks and clothes. We had sessions with top celebrity stylists on street style, work wear, active wear, retro fashion, and so on. We are also amplifying visibility to the games on our platform.

Another important way we engage with our users during this lockdown period is through our social media channels. We have taken this opportunity to thank our frontline workers, i.e. our fulfillment center employees and our delivery staff, we have called out fun activities our employees are doing with their kids during this work-from-home period, and we are running fun polls and contests etc. We want to bring a small dose of everyday happiness through all the touchpoints we have with them.

What are some of the efforts that you're taking on the 'masks' front, considering their lack of availability?

We worked with Wildcraft to launch masks that have three levels of protection. It works to stop the spread of the virus. It’s not an N95 mask, it’s a regular cloth mask, but it will add value and make a difference during this time.

What's a marketing challenge you’ve had to deal with, ever since the lockdown began?

The marketing challenge we’re facing is the same that the entire industry is facing. When customers are worried about the virus and their day-to-day work situation, their propensity for discretionary spending goes down. Negative consumer sentiment is a concern and we are being extremely sensitive to this in our communication and our messaging. We are very optimistic about the future and all the signals that we are seeing from other countries across the world are also pointing to the right direction.