“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing! – Edmund Burke”

Speaking to 10 of Flipkart/Myntra employees, I came to realize that they never in complete agreement with the decision of abandoning the Mobile web (and website in case of Myntra). Although not a statistically significant sample but something thats worth pondering over.
Its interesting that Myntra and Flipkart have enabled their mobile web again.

The key questions to ask are

  • Why do companies with many a smart people running the show still make such  decisions?
  • As a company what is the fine line where being bold doesn’t mean being foolish?
  • Finally, As a company were everyone aligned on this decision? Weren’t there employees who believed that the app only way is not in customers best interest?

Lets explore:

A) Why do companies with all the smart people still make such decisions?

Because of HiPPOs (highly paid person’s opinion)! Countless no of times I have witnessed organisation being a victim of HiPPO. The problem with HiPPO is that it doesn’t work all the time and more often ends up erring on the wrong side.
Soltuion: Data based decision making seems to be the panacea!
Data Based Decision Making: So the theory goes that to counter the HiPPO you can use data as your arsenal. In actuality, this seems realistic and should work. However, I have seen that data alone is not the solution.
I am sure folks of Myntra/Flipkart would have definitely gone through their share of experimentation and reasonable chunks of data analysis before going down the path of NO website! The problem with data, however is that, you get what you ask and you see what you like to see.
The problem with data, however is that,  you only get to see what you would like to see!
 I have in my experience, seen countless decisions that has gone against the suggestion of data.

B) As a company, what is the line where being bold doesn’t mean being foolish?

Bold doesn’t become foolish if you adhere to one of the following principles:
a) Dont take away anything from the existing customers!
b) Only take away something if the replacement has 10x value to the customers
c) Solve for engineering efficiency, only and only if it doesn’t pain your customer
Last year, as a part of my product journey within Intuit we did take something away from Turbo Tax customers which resulted in a considerable customers discontent. We soon realized our mistake and reverted back to doing what is right for our customers.
However, I see companies still follow this path time and again where there are no principles involved in decision making. Myntra took away desktop website at the cost losing customers like me. For a fashion category, mobile based browsing (unless I am very clear what I am looking for) never could replace the desktop way of exploratory browsing let alone providing 10x value!
‘But with personalized data on mobile, we could better customize!’ could be the argument from Myntra folks. This is a flawed theory for a simple reason that customisation should never be at the cost of retention as I am sure not all the web folks transitioned into their app world. Also, I believe the maturity of personalisation is still in its nascent stage.
I have also seen companies take an inside out view in this new environment of solving for anywhere, anytime access. As an ecommerce player you need to be omni present on a number of channels – mobile web, mobile app and desktop web therewith increasing the cost of engineering. In an effort to reduce the engineering cost, its sad that companies go down the path of doing what is right for them (solving for engineering efficiency) as opposed to what is right for their customers!

C) Do you think everyone (read ‘key stakeholder’) was aligned on this decision?

I doubt and certainly dont thinks so! Then why do such decisions even happen? The answer could be rooted in ‘Culture’. As the companies grow, I have seen hierarchy taking a much more stronger definition with more decisions being top down than democratic. Depending on the DNA of the company, I have seen different flavors of the culture which dont help the product. The culture ranges from being nice guys (where people dont challenge each other as its the general norm in the company) to being assholish (where people are scared to challenge given the repercussions). I presume Myntra/Flipkart are on the cusp of becoming large organisations and suffer from the same perils that most big companies do. Front ending employees have an instinct from their level of exposure to business, listening to them helps to avoid costs of  wrong experimentation.
As they take time to reflect upon this decision with lost sales and lost customers, they might want to take stock of their decision making culture to avoid such future fiascos! join now for Product marketing workshop at Product marketing academy.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are my own.

This article was originally published on Linkedin

Author Viveck P Kumar

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