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EP #56: Delivering delightful, personalized shopping experiences like India’s leading e-commerce brand, Myntra

About this Podcast

 

The last few years saw customers shift their preference from buying clothes at retail outlets to conveniently buying online on their gadgets. This change in customer behavior was further accelerated by COVID-19 as customers had to depend on buying online for most of their shopping needs. Despite COVID-19 beginning to ease off slowly, customers believe that shopping online is a lot more convenient than having to go from store to store to get what they’re looking for. E-commerce brands are thus doing their best to keep their hard-earned customers engaged on their platform by delivering personalized user experiences. We caught up with Mohit Panjwani, Associate Director- Revenue Growth at Myntra to understand how e-commerce fashion brands like Myntra are leveraging the power of customer data and marketing analytics to craft memorable and personalized shopping experiences. Myntra is India’s leading e-commerce company committed to making fashion and lifestyle products accessible to everyone. From its birth as a customization company in 2007 to being technology and fashion pioneers today, Myntra has grown to become the ultimate destination for fashion and lifestyle, being host to a wide array of merchandise including clothing, footwear, accessories, jewellery, personal care products, etc. In a recent insightful chat with Mohit we unravelled:

  • Major customer engagement and retention challenges faced by e-commerce brands
  • Importance of adopting an omnichannel approach to effectively engage with customers across all touchpoints of the user journey
  • Need to have a consistent messaging across channels beyond website and app- thoughts on product recommendations, personalized emails, and app push notifications
  • How predicting customer churn through ML is critical to increasing retention
  • Innovative campaigns and ideas used to increase customer engagement and repeat purchase behavior
  • 3 biggest e-commerce trends that can pick up steam in 2021

Tune in to gain insights on how the best in the business caters to customer needs and requirements by delivering customer experiences at scale.

 

Episode Transcripts

Pradyut Hande (Host): Hi guys. Welcome to yet another insightful episode of the MarTechno Beat, especially curated podcast series powered by Netcore solutions. Here’s what you gain cutting edge insights from leading marketers, product champions, and MarTech influencers on all things, user growth, engagement, retention, and personalization. I’m your host. Once again, Pradyut Hande, and today I’m joined by a very special guest Mr. Mohit Panjwani, Associate Director of Revenue Growth at Myntra, India’s leading e-commerce company, committed to making fashion and lifestyle products accessible to everyone. Welcome, Mohit. I’m so glad that you could join us today.

Mohit Panjwani (Guest): Hi, Pradyut. Thanks a lot for inviting me, I am thankful to the Netcore team for inviting me for this interesting podcast and looking forward to, you know an interesting set of questions and I try my level best to share the experiences that I’ve seen with the past and would look for feedback from you know folks who actually hear this podcast.

Pradyut Hande: Awesome. We really look forward to that. So for our listeners, Mohit is handling the customer charter for Myntra, which includes customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer relationship management, along with growth analytics. So in today’s episode, we are going to gain helpful insights on how Myntra leverages the power of customer data and marketing analytics to craft memorable and personalized shopping experiences at scale, and all of this is aimed at maximizing customer engagement, revenues, and retention. So let’s get down to it. Mohit, my first question to you is you know the entire pandemic of 2020 has flipped the narrative for e-commerce and it has really seen e-commerce take center stage, like never before with a lot of consumption and buying, moving to online. In such a backdrop, what would be the three biggest challenges that a fashion and lifestyle e-commerce player like Myntra currently combats, especially in terms of customer engagement and retention?

Mohit Panjwani: So it’s a very interesting question, I think the set of challenges we faced post-pandemic were more around, you know fashion being a discretionary category, the spins what got it from a customer perspective because there was a lot more focused on, you know, what is currently needed. The customer buying occasions had gone down. So therefore the customers were focusing more on, you know, what they need on a day-to-day basis while, you know, most of the folks were actually curtailed and they had to sit at home. So therefore given that they were not stepping out. So then the reasons for, you know, buying fashion went down drastically. So to counter that we focused a lot on, you know, building the essentials category so that we could actually address the need States that customers have. And we also started focusing on surfacing lot more fashion essentials which will help, you know, address the demand around t-shirts you know lounge beer, shorts, so to speak in wear, which are the categories that, you know, customers would want moreover while there, you know not able to step out or for groceries.

Pradyut Hande: In a work-from-home environment as well. 

Mohit Panjwani: Yeah. So those are the two big challenges. I think the third one was the biggest, which was trust and safety with the COVID pandemic upon going, there was a huge focus on, you know, making sure that our delivery is safe and more importantly, associates that are on the ground are you know, we do enough, put enough checks and balances in place so that their health and safety is taken care of to the best standard so that they can deliver, at a service level, which is expected. And at the same time that ends up safeguarding the customer as well. So, we bait that process quickly after the pandemic, which, you know, not only help customers avail services but also helped us, you know, ensure that our associates are safe and sound.

Pradyut Hande: Okay. It’s very interesting. And when it comes to e-commerce, we’ve seen that there are multiple devices on which your customers access your website from a mobile app or multi-digital touch customer journey. So how important is triggered multi-channel communication to a shopper’s entire customer journey? And it would be great if you could say some key use cases that Myntra is using such communication for?

Mohit Panjwani: Sure. I think it is extremely important to have, you know, triggered multi-channel communication because customers have, if any, to go to different channels that are the key points to note. And then secondly they may be in a different customer state. So for example, if we focus on the pre-purchase like, right now what would be important is to look at what the customer status is? Are they dormant or have they joined or are they actually actively browsing on the app then also understanding exactly what do they want to buy, right. And then it is important to understand exactly where they are in their purchase journey. And then once they’ve made the purchase, then how do we use the multi-triggered telecommunication in the post-purchase journey? So if you do take a few examples, if there’s a customer, who’s a Darwin, that effectively means that that customer is not having the app or he, or she may not be opening the app or they haven’t visited the app in the last three to six months right now for such a customer. You would want to, you know, use SMS as a channel once, you know, the customer state so that you can activate the customer or re-channel because these other two channels through which you can reach out to that customer, digital marketing for that matter. The notification center will not work because the operating system will not surface the notifications. You need to choose how you would want to give the customer first to start browsing on the app. Then you would want to assess that, you know, which channel is cheaper. So emailing would be cheaper.

Do you want to start with an email or would you want to go with digital, or would you want to go with SMS? That call could be taken. This is affinity that if the customer might have shown in the past to do either of the channels and then once the customer starts browsing on the app, then it would be important to have a journey setup on the notification center where, you know, it could be a lot more focused basis. The customer’s actions on the app for customer comes to the app organically or inorganically pre-purchase, you would have to take notice of what actions are they doing. So they actually stuck its cart. They have added few products to the cart and they are not buying them, are they on the product description? Because that means they have effectively viewed a lot of products. They may or may not have liked that.

Now, what kind of actions you could take. So if there is a customer who is stuck on the cart, you would want to push, you know, out of stock messages. If there is a product that is actually going to run out of stock soon with an image that you could send a price, drop a notification that they would push if there are prototypes on which prices have dropped significantly, that might become a key reason for the customer to take note that you know, why they need to buy quickly. Now, what is happening here is that across multiple channels, we are solving for different objectives for the customer right from, you know, activating the customer to engaging the customer, and then trying to finally convert the customer. So it has to be a very well-rounded approach which then finally feeds into the post-purchase leg, where once the customer has made a purchase from you need to make sure that the customer is aware of, you know, where the order is, so basically, if it is status or delivery, you could actually even very well with cross-selling where you, you could say that, you know, Hey XYZ, you bought a t-shirt from intra, there is a gene or vice versa that goes with the purchase that you’ve made. So this would actually help you know, drive relevant promotional communication to the customer, which the customer will feel good about it. The same time you could actually also use a lot of you know, information that could be created basis, how they could better use the product. So if they bought a personal care product from you, for example, they bought a product which is a kind of cream, right? You could explain to them, how do we use it? And if there is a hair serum then how do they apply it to the hair?

So, in that communication, you could actually build to not only communicate the status of deliveries but at the same time also communicate, how do they use the product? And also, given that the top of mind for the customer, given that they have made a purchase just now from that particular organization would be high, it is the right time to be on them for more purchases via different channels. So to cut a chart, we will have to have clear objectives laid out at each step of the purchase journey and then use the right channel basis is what the customer has an affinity to and drive you know, relevant communication.

Pradyut Hande: Oh, it makes a lot of sense. And I think in a lot of my conversations with a lot of e-commerce brands, also so much of this you know, multi-channel customer engagement strategy is driven by behavioral data and the more data that you have at your disposal, the more contextualized and relevant your communication. So that actually brings me to my next question. We spoke about how behavioral data can be leveraged to craft and deliver these really contextual and personalized customer shopping experiences. And we’ve seen over a period of time that personalization has gone beyond being more than just a buzzword, you know, personalization has really emerged as a major conversion and retention lever. I just wanted to understand what does personalization means to Myntra as a brand and how do you go about implementing the same at various digital touchpoints beyond your website and mobile app?

Mohit Panjwani: All right. So personalization in fact is central or core to each decision that we make it Myntra. And every calendar year, the kind of conversations that we have before the year starts is how can we actually improve the personalization coalition on the platform, because as an organization, we’ve always tried to be as relevant as we could be across all touchpoints at any point in time in the journey that the customer is having, along with Myntra, there are different touchpoints like a digital tool or CRM, so to speak from an examples perspective. So the communication or the promotion strategy that we have, for example, for a new user versus early adopter versus a sticky customer, we try to maneuver our approach, so that we could actually solve customer problems, address the objectives for each stage in a customer’s journey. So if you look at purchase sequences, a new user would have a very different set of problems or a very different set of objectives that they would be coming to Myntra for versus a set of customers in their other party sequences versus customers who are very sticky. So for each touchpoint, we have different solutions in place. And in fact, to give you examples of how we have actually built personalization across different touchpoints, so there was a big event in which we generally one of our flagships, every year we try to innovate in a week and every marketer would try to personalize their communication for a big event.

So as part of that, one interesting thing that we tried to build is on the digital platform. It is very difficult to scale videos at a one-to-one level. And that is what hinders each marketer. So this is one of the innovations that we tried in the past, and this had worked really well. And, you know, for example, club all the produce, certain move hits, as a group across the nation, and then tried to surface a video with the name got called out at the start to grab attention. So that became kind of a personal invite to the event, which actually gained a lot of traction. And then across different touchpoints, like say notifications, the quotient of promotions every year continues to increase.

But at the same time, personalization has increased significantly. Not only are we, you know you can just segmenting basis, brand article price-point affinity that a customer has or a cross-sell propensity, but we are also focusing as I said before on the stage customer journey stage that each customer would be also a new user versus an early purchase sequence customer versus a very sticky customer would actually get a different type of communications business the state with a different kind of position that we are doing. Similarly, it’s the kind of personalization that has continued to increase over period of time, not only are we personalizing on once you would actually see very relevant communication to who, and if you actually show the app to your friend or relative or acquaintance, their app would actually have a very different homepage from you or even a new user, like the journey kind of thing is very different. And similarly, as you enter the funnel, there is a proper sort order with proper logic put in place. This is your browsing history. This is your affinity. This is the price point affinity you have shown. So across all the touchpoints, you try to personalize as much as you can. And as an organization, we continue to, you know; see each and every area where we can actually personalize more across the entire pre and post-purchase journey.

Pradyut Hande: Very interesting. I think one point that really stood out is the fact that it’s not just basis the lifecycle stage at which the shopper finds himself or herself, but a variety of other factors that you know, are taken into consideration,  just a quick follow-up question on that in a lot of my conversations with the leading fashion and app really commerce platforms, this entire concept of visual search or image recognition to drive personalization on-site has come up in a lot of those conversations just wanted your quick thoughts on how you foresee this, because this is a major game-changer and how can actually fashion apparel e-commerce platforms leverage it to its fullest potential.

Mohit Panjwani: It is actually going to be a game-changer. And one of the features that Myntra already has like so if anybody today goes to a search bar on Myntra actually take the image of the product or the person wearing the product and try to search and get relevant results around the style that you were actually looking for. And then this definitely will be a game-changer for the future because as we move forwards every organization’s app or interface that you go to a tech that is technology modules that are getting build. Everyone is trying to make the experience a lot smoother and the effort that a customer needs to put in to find a product a lot easier. So if you want to buy a yellow t-shirt because there is a CSK match but you don’t want a CSK jersey, you want a particular type of product you don’t need to then type, we do need to just click the image of the product that you saw. It might be in a Google search also, and you could actually find it on Myntra. So this is definitely going to be a game-changer. I keep saying one thing that customers if we assume the customers are lazy, from that hypothesis all the features that are getting built on the lines of making their life a lot easier and low their effort, those features will actually succeed. So today, not a lot of traction, you would see your visual search, but as time progresses, this is one area where we’ll see actually a lot more traction in the future.

Pradyut Hande: Amazing. So we spoke about how personalization can be used to link fence your existing customers, provide them with the best possible shopping experience. My next question actually revolves around customer churn and predicting customer churn through machine learning algorithms is critical to increase in retention. So could you highlight how Myntra approaches this in order to predict and prediction and prevention for your website and app customers?

Mohit Panjwani: Sure Pradyut. So I think the key objective as part of retention has always been that how do we increase our repeat rate and the revenue per customer period of time because, from a health of business perspective, I think this is the most important area that any business would want to focus on. So for us to be able to actually have a robust approach to this, it cannot be basis what people have done in the past. There has to be a very good way to have a sneak peek into the future. And with that in mind, we actually built, you can say the customer retention or customer life cycle management module that Myntra actually comprises of multiple predictive models that are put in place to, help us, more importantly, target the right customer at the right time with the right proposition. And also at the same time solve for customer problems that are there, have enough empathy. And once you understand the problems only, then it could be also there has to be a lot more focused, I would say, sharp focus. When you say, when we talked about personalization, I think personalization has to be powered by all these algorithms only then a customer would actually give the exact what do an experience that you would want to offer to them. So to start with, we have in-house a model to understand exactly who’s going to turn from the platform, who has already turn, what other kinds of reasons, because of which they turn. And there are multiple ways of using those models. This model preemptively in some cases tells us that these customers who bought this from you may have the propensity to turn in order to become important as to how we react to it that is one. Second, there’ll be areas where you would have clear signals from the customer that, you know, the customer called out in their previous purchase, that they’re returning the product because I’ve seen, for example, size and fit was an issue. Now, while there are a tactical set of actions that could be taken in strategy actions could also be taken. So we’ve focused on improving our size and fit, take on the platform. And this is one interesting example where, you know, customers actually given fashion, by the way, try to improve and put sizing charts or more information about how sizes differ from the UK to the US fix that we see. But customers definitely may not be able to crack it easily on, and it becomes difficult to remember sometimes or match what they’d ordered in the past. So people do return products because of size and fit, so to get certain customers back with churn because of this reason, we did a very simple campaign where we said that, you know, we have improved our size and fit tech on the platform. Why don’t you give us your body measurements? And we will give you intelligent recommendations on size, and fit on a product description pages. Okay. When you say doing a t-shirt or you are viewing a shoe or a jean basis as your body measurements, we will actually tell you what will fit you. The fit might differ from brand to brand, so that intelligent recommendation will solve the problem rather than giving an incentive to you to get you back. If I saw the size and fit a problem only, then it will actually auger well for us in the future. So we tried this campaign and this gave a very good RPO. So that is how we are using the model. Then the second model that we have is predicting who’s going to spend how much in future. So that gives a good view and helps us to have a clear burrito in place. Then we can say that at the burrito that is written in books, that 10 to 90% customers contribute to 60 to 70% customers. So any organization would want to try and figure that out, because that has a direct impact on how do you plan revenue or businesses cohorts how do you plan the traffic that you need to get from each cohort that will actually help any organization bring down their cost position, significantly increase otherwise significantly of their marketing investments. And at the same time, the organizations can take the right call on where do they invest their margin; because, if you know, there are 10, 20% super users who are not doing well today who would be contributing to say 70, 80% of your revenue, and how do you incentivize them? Because when it comes to margin investment, you can’t go visit and do it across all cohorts. It has to be sharp and surgical. So that becomes important. And then if churn,  if you have a view on who’s going to churn or best churn, what was their spend potential at the same time, if you have a clear view on to what will the customer buy next? And if you marry all these products, you get a very scientific concept that could actually be used across multiple touchpoints to drive a significant ROI, a significant level of personalization. At the same time last but not the least; I think quality of customer that kind of modular approach also needs to be employed where we need to have a good handle on who is a good customer, who is not so good customer, basis those metrics. And how do you actually bring customers who are on the going in this so good journey or a bad journey? Customers going to the bad journey, how do you actually help them go towards the good journey so that they actually become sticky to the platform? So kind of that sense also would be important. So this is the kind of sale and framework we use at Myntra.

Pradyut Hande: Very interesting. I think that point that you mentioned about ring fencing, your identifying your next best customer and ring fencing them, that’s really important. And something that, we at Netcore also believe something that’s called velvet rope marketing is where you sort of lay out the red carpet for your best customers to maximize CLTV. Another interesting point that you mentioned there was around identifying those customers who are going down a bad journey. And at the end of the day, you have limited you know, dollars to spend in terms of acquisition and engagement. So it’s also important to identify those customers who despite your best efforts are unlikely to come back to your platform and just sort of have a sunset policy in place that says that, okay, if you’re going to focus more on our more valuable cohorts. So that makes a lot of sense. All right, so my final question to you Mohit, and my favorite question also, and I would encourage you to just sort of put on your thinking cap and get your customer experience crystal ball in front of you. According to you, what are the three biggest e-commerce marketing trends that you foresee gathering momentum in 2021 and beyond?

Mohit Panjwani: A very interesting question, but I try taking a stab at it. So I think according to me, two three things that I see, you know, gaining traction are around usage of predictive analytics like we just spoke about knowing what is going to happen in future. If we have a good view of that, the kind of inputs we give to each of the campaigns from marketing perspective, or each test point, how do we actually shape, it changes a lot. The approach changes a lot. So knowing world has been done by the customer or what has happened to the customer as an outcome of our good or bad effort, having that insight and I think the second insight that I’m actually also seeing is that a lot of places where you will see that, you know, customers are showing a lot of interest is conversational marketing, where the customers are able to, in fact, you know, see some bit, so there are two bits the way I think about it, there is one promotional angle to it, where if a customer was in your shop, if you were the shopkeeper and the customer was in your shop, you would actually converse with the customer to help the customer make a purchase decision. At the same time, if a customer has concerns you know, address those concerns of as a lot of customers or folks have moved into the technologies or apps, it is like the chatbot part of interaction or I’m seeing a lot of apps actually scaling chatbots. And there are a few apps where chatbots are doing really well. So I think this is going to be the future where a lot of customer issues get addressed. A lot of chatbots could actually be used very interestingly also for marketing, where customers might have questions, customers might have various doubts and customers might want to know trends. So it is not only done we address concerns, but also give a lot better view on multiple other things that you would be doing as an organization on a chatbot.

Pradyut Hande: Okay. Another last is just to add to that you’ve mentioned it, you know, chatbots can also be used to build customer engagement, especially on conversational messaging platforms like WhatsApp. You’ve seen a few e-commerce players already sort of experimenting with this, and especially during the flagship sale period, etc where the click to WhatsApp option also becomes available to a lot of e-commerce players, but do continue.

Mohit Panjwani: I agree. I totally agree. So I think the usage of WhatsApp as a channel and having a chatbot on the app, I think these are two things that definitely, you know, I see are taking or are seeing scale. And then lastly automation would be a key from a marketing perspective because as we go one to one or personalization continues to scale over a period of time. I think the manual efforts will have to go down significantly. So I think automation would be the way forward, like from a future perspective. So that would actually help provide the best customer experience to each and every customer because they will actually see everyone would end to see a lot more relevant stuff, which is relevant to them, the propositions, the kind of brands they like, or the kind of problems or challenges they have faced in the past. How is the organization trying to address them, uh, uh, and, and, and a lot more customization? So all of this would be I think, possible via automation. So this is another piece or leg which will actually take our scale a lot in the future.

Pradyut Hande: It makes a lot of sense. And I think we’ve now moved in terms of marketing automation from just catering to segments and cohorts to actually developing really personalized customer experiences, tailor-made to a segment of one. I think that’s where the entire evolution of e-commerce is also heading. Thank you so much for taking the time and joining us today, I’m sure our global audience will really benefit from all of these razor-sharp insights that you’ve shared with us. Anything that you would like to add as a parting note?

Mohit Panjwani: Thanks a lot Pradyut. And again, thanks to the Netcore team for inviting me to this podcast, it was really nice, the set of questions you asked were very interesting, and I loved interacting with you. Thank you and thank you, team.

Pradyut Hande: Awesome. Thank you so much. You did complete justice to each of those questions, and also a big thank you to our listeners for tuning in once again, for most such awesome content you’ll continue to subscribe or follow MarTechno Beat and watch this for more. Thank you so much. 

 

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