Mukesh Bansal, Head of Commerce at Flipkart and CEO, Myntra.com, graduated from IIT Kanpur and hails from Haridwar, Uttar Pradesh. After moving back from the US, the 39-year-old met his fellow co-founder Ashutosh Lawania through the IIT Kanpur alumni network and set up Myntra.com. He spoke to Business Today about the business of fashion, competition and the way forward.
BT: One year on, how has the merger with Flipkart worked for you?
Bansal: I think it has worked very well for us. Also, our market share has grown in this period. We are able to use each other's strength for driving growth. I think the distance from the number two player has also increased. We are about double the size of the number two player. This would most certainly reflect in the monthly numbers of the last three to four months, if not as much in the numbers for the entire year. We saw the distance increasing since last December.
BT: Is that the difference in terms of Stock Keeping Units or shipments?
Bansal: No it will reflect in the revenue, in terms of how many transactions we do per day.
BT: What are the three things that have helped you widen the gap between you and the closest competitor? Do you think it is because of your merger with Flipkart or irrespective of that?
Bansal: No, I think it has played a role for sure. Because of the merger we are a lot more focused on the long term. Our value proposition has also sharpened because we have deep engaging content which has allowed Myntra to differentiate well. Our own in-house fashion brands like HRX, Roaster and Dressberry have grown considerably. We are able to leverage Flipkart's supply chain network to increase our reach.
BT: Are you also anticipating that competition from Jabong, which is closest to you, will change because now they are part of a global entity?
Bansal: As far as we are concerned, our distance from Jabong is increasing. I don't know whether that alliance is helping them or not, but I know that we have become much stronger in this period.
BT: Also the sense is that Myntra is stronger on the men's fashion side than on women's fashion. Would you agree?
Bansal: No. I think that may have been the case a year ago, but over the last one year our selection on the women's side has improved. Especially, all the content that we do is majorly focused on women. We have seen in several surveys that lot of women prefer shopping on Myntra. Our ratio of business that comes from women has also increased.
BT: What do you mean when you say content?
Bansal: We do a lot of style tips or current trends, celebrity styles, how to sense all of that.
BT: Your competitor has a magazine...
Bansal: Yeah… we are an online business. We are not a believer in print magazine because for an online business, users want fresh content every time.
BT: Your competitors have believed in organic growth rather than lead by acquisition. Tell us some of the acquisitions that have worked well for you and how?
Bansal: Exclusively actually helped us launch our private label business. Now in-house fashion brands are more than 20 per cent of our business. Acquisition of Fitiquette helped us improve how we offer sizing tips etc. Both the acquisitions have helped people improve our experience. We had started our private brands two years back and Exclusively helped us sharpen our expertise.
BT: Will the Flipkart-Myntra combine go in for public listing?
Bansal: We are not thinking about that. Our focus is on building a strong business and better proposition for consumers.
BT: Is there a possibility for a merger between Flipkart and Myntra?
Bansal: No, we will always keep the two companies as separate entities. Even the leadership is separate. (Other than Mukesh Bansal who is also Head of Commerce at Flipkart besides being CEO of Myntra, there is no common role for anybody).
BT: Tell me two ways you get along, or maybe not, with the Flipkart leadership?
Bansal: I think the chemistry and the alignment is extremely good. They believe in building strong cultures and strong technologies.
BT: Don't you think being part of Flipkart, a bigger organisation, tends to slow you down in terms of taking faster decisions compared to when you were an independent entity?
Bansal: That is precisely the reason why we have maintained Myntra as a separate entity. After the acquisition, our vision has only strengthened.