In today's Finshots we talk about Myntra's gamble with influencer-led live commerce and what it means for the industry


The Story

Would the convenience of shopping online for clothes nudge Indians away from the “try-before-you-buy” mindset”?

In 2011, that was the bet, Myntra took. It had just pivoted from personalised gifting to fashion. And it worked. Within a couple of years, Myntra became India’s leading online portal for fashion.

In 2013, Flipkart came calling. It wanted to add fashion to its portfolio and acquired Myntra. But Myntra kept iterating. It moved from an inventory-led model — where they’d buy apparel from manufacturers before selling it on; to a marketplace model where brands (over 3000) could use the Myntra platform to showcase their offering to customers. It tied up with Bollywood celebrities like Hrithik Roshan to launch exclusive brands (HRX). It created its own private labels brands like Mast & Harbour. It partnered with celebrities like Deepika Padukone (All About You) and Saif Ali Khan (House of Pataudi) to further establish its Bollywood cred.

As you can see, Myntra has been upping its game constantly. And it is looking to shake things up again with a new idea — an idea that’s the basis of today’s topic — Influencer-led live commerce.

Now live commerce is this shiny new thing everybody’s talking about. Imagine you’re watching your favourite influencer on YouTube or Instagram. You’re looking at their gorgeous dress and you can’t stop staring at it. You want to buy that thing immediately, but the pain of finding the precise product on Google puts you off entirely. It’s a chore and you abandon the idea altogether. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If the influencer could just show you the product right there and redirect you to a payment gateway, you would buy that thing instantly. And if you don’t believe the power these influencers wield, here’s a figure that’ll blow your mind. According to Statista, 33% of Indians surveyed have bought a product because an influencer recommended it.

And in 2017, the Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba had the splendid idea of bringing influencers closer to their audience. They launched Taobao Live to link live streams with e-commerce.

Influencers began nudging  viewers to purchase products on the live stream and it was an instant hit. Conversions started soaring. In the days before live commerce, influencers would ask their viewers to go to a specific link to finalize the purchase. Obviously, most people wouldn’t even want to move out of the website. But even those who did would often give up midway. Industry incumbents call this problem cart abandonment. They’d add something to the cart and then not buy it. In the online fashion industry, cart abandonment is as high as 90%. However, with live commerce and with influencers nudging you to make that purchase (pairing it with additional discounts), industry stakeholders began tackling this problem in a big way. In fact, by 2020, nearly 70% of Chinese consumers said that they had purchased something on a live stream and now the whole world is standing up and taking notice.

Even Myntra’s parent company Flipkart has gotten in on the act. It recently partnered with short video platform Moj to facilitate live commerce. So now if you’re watching an influencer on Moj, you could buy tagged products on Flipkart’s platform using just one click.

And Myntra is not going to be left behind. Right now, they’re running a pilot where influencers and other experts can hold live sessions on the platform. The hope is that through these knowledge sessions they could drive transactions i.e. if these influencers were to recommend products on the live stream and if they could buy products right there, it would be a win-win for all parties involved. This, in essence, is the playbook Myntra is likely to deploy in the months to come and live commerce may no longer be an obscure idea for most people in this country.

Until then…

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