A Series: Beyond Fashion and Fad

By : |October 31, 2013 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: That’s the way technology should be, not exactly a show-stopper but still a choreographer behind the runway, whose presence can be felt without any conspicuous spotlight. Shopping at Myntra.com can possibly give you the subtle idea about some powerful yet invisible changing rooms. You are accosted with just the colour/almost ‘the’ beige shade you are looking for even before you could spell the word. Or you can shop in tango with how celebs are sporting their savoir faire. Or you can stitch in your cart’s look with some discreet and deep-cutting trend watch sections. You are greeted by a customer service chaperone who for some evasive reason, knows about every fabric you have preferred, every grudge you had held and even every out-of-budget stiletto you had ogled over longingly (because a person, a voice or an email alerts you immediately enough when the item slides into a discount bracket).

There must be a lot of hard work and some hard thinking going behind the curtains to make an experience of these levels probable. There’s more and Shamik Sharma, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Myntra, takes us for a walk beyond the front row. Peep-Toes on?

Let us start from the other end first. IT and analytics are surely in style, but how do they make anyone stand out from the crowd? How are you draping it up differently?

Technology itself will get commoditised sooner or later. But what are hard to replicate are aspects like the trust factor and the level of service one provides. Everything has to go at a pace and at a degree that it builds a relationship and not just a transaction. I can confidently say that that way Myntra is ahead of the curve. Trend-capture or celeb-tracking or any other extra stuff that we offer are examples enough. Yes there are a lot of players in the e-commerce space today but Myntra knows how to sell fashion. That’s our anchor point and a lot of it is being made possible with technology.

Is analytics under arc lights because of this sudden power that we have witnessed with various engines and tools?

Yes, Big data was there in the way Google and Yahoo were already doing it. But now it is possible to leverage that with cost effectiveness and talent availability. Now it’s in the reach of other players also. Plus hardware is affordable, software is open source, and many other factors are more feasible than before to make small guys take advantage of this power.

How do you weave in with CRM and product strategy fabric?

CRM gets triggered at various touch-points, like when a person calls in. There the operator has all the data and shopping history or profile available on his/her desk, which enables him/her to give proactive and better service to a customer. CRM is deeply embedded in the DNA across many levels and points. We can also achieve a higher level of personalization, like promote a certain product if there’s a birthday coming up or a certain item when a regional festival is imminent. We have a very focused and personal approach to the way we service and deliver and also understand the fashion space. We are trying to use analytics for a domain which has its own quirks and uniqueness. Now we can look at a purchase history or surfing pattern and build a fashion profile around a prospect/customer. All this creates an overall better and unique experience. Big data helps us understand what is working and what is not. Technology makes it easier.

What pieces make up your analytics power?

We use Amazon hardware and Hadoop, Hive tools for data and we have our own code to crunch data into insights which then go to a data warehouse and reporting tools like Pentaho. The software is open source.


Finally, how do you deal with malfunction parts – like how can this experience stay away from being in-the-face and intrusive?

There is always a fine line between listening with attention and being in your face annoyingly. That can happen/happens even in an offline store. We try our best to be great without being pushy so as to convey choices as naturally, smoothly and subtly as possible. The idea is to personalize the experience but keeping a space in mind.


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