PHY­GI­TAL - BRAND TALK

Manohar Ka­math, Myn­tra Fash­ion Brands

VMRD - - Contents - Smita Sinha

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 high­tech 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 om­nichan­nel 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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