The Story of Building Myntra Live…Through the Lens of a Product Manager
Reshaping the Fashion Landscape – The Myntra Way
In my two years of experience as a Product Manager, I have realized that you can’t appreciate the value of your learnings until you put them into application. One such momentous learning curve during my time at Myntra has been being part of the team that built the video commerce platform, M-Live, ground up.
From recognising the need for a video-based platform – compared to videos, everything else, to our surprise, sounded so yesterday – to actually developing one which could run multiple live streams and handle millions of visitors, we had an amazing rollercoaster of a journey that empowered us to re-shape the fashion landscape in India.
Here is what we realised
With the explosion of video consumption over the last few years, video content has become an irreplaceable part of any businesses’ marketing strategy. The e-commerce market in India has also been witnessing an evolution in recent years with the emergence of newer formats like video and social commerce where products are being showcased through video content in order to promote purchases.
“India’s online video user base has scaled to more than 350 million people, growing 24% over 2018 to 2020, nearly twice as fast as markets such as China and Indonesia. Usage per active user has also grown dramatically—the daily time spent per active user on online videos has simultaneously grown by 60% to 70% over 2018–20.” according to a Bain report.
Here is how we realised it
As we dug deep, we at Myntra had our own experiences and revelations on the importance of video content. Here’s a quick list of some of our learnings that led to the introduction of Live Commerce, the platform that changed the way we shop, forever.
Keeping up with the Gen Z
Learning 1 – Inspiration and buying gaps
Just like most of us, my social media addiction makes me scroll through reels often. One day, I stumbled upon a reel with a bright floral dress photographed against the backdrop of a beach. I had an instant desire to buy it and the seller’s link directed me to more such videos. A message to the seller helped me get more information about the size, availability, return policy, etc., followed by a call and finally after the rather elaborate process, my order was confirmed.
As product managers at Myntra, we are constantly solving problems, and my colleagues and I have often discussed our similar experiences, especially, the missing pieces in the consumer shopping journey, things that could make the process more seamless. While the inspiration was happening on social media platforms, the shortlisting and purchase was happening elsewhere (messaging platforms), making the process rather cumbersome. Consumers with shorter attention spans might lose interest or worse, quit before the transaction goes through.
Learning 2 – Search and discovery through videos
In another instance, we were discussing recommendations of restaurants for our upcoming team outing. While we received a bevy of suggestions, the most surprising part was that my Director’s suggestions were being sourced from restaurant listings – images and texts based, while the Gen Z team members were relying mostly on hip reels of restaurants showcasing trending gourmet food.
This minor skirmish between generations led to a collective revelation. Is video content the future? We started wondering whether video was the new medium for not only content consumption and discovery but also the search experience.
By digging deeper, we found documented research around the subject:
According to a Google internal study – “Almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.”
As per a YouTube‘s survey – “1 in 2 Gen Zers and millennials say they don’t know how they’d get through life without videos.”
“Keeping these facts in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if this blog post is a hit and miss with the Gen Z cohort. :)”
For a while, we have also witnessed the trend shift where younger users are turning to video apps for searches in place of e-commerce. At Myntra, we assessed that it’s not far in time when end-to-end shopping will be video-based.
Learning 3 – By Foraying into video-led content
All said and done, we wanted to test the waters now. As a proof of concept for video content on Myntra, we launched an initiative called the Masterclass, where experts put out fashion advice videos, and the audience was allowed to ask questions that were answered within 24 hrs.
We witnessed tremendous traction where viewers were seeking inspiration from these fashion experts and celebs. We could already see our proposition getting validated with this pilot, enabling us to explore this unchartered territory of Video Commerce.
We also observed a keenness in viewers to get their questions addressed. There was a clear need of empowering our customers to interact with these fashion experts.
“Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend” – Mark Zuckerberg
With all these learnings, we braced ourselves for the goal of working on the next big innovation in the fashion landscape and creating a magical shopping experience for our customers.
M Live – The Gamechanger
After much deliberation and cohesive efforts, we came up with M Live, a proprietary, one-of-a-kind live video streaming and live commerce platform to cater to the rapidly evolving content consumption patterns.
What is in it for different stakeholders?
- Solving the gaps in inspiration-led buying journeys: M Live provides a fun and convenient shopping experience where each leg of the shopping journey- from inspiration to the final transaction, can be performed in one place. Seeking inspiration? Connect to our live streaming videos with trusted influencers showcasing the most trendy collections. Get access to the Influencer try-ons of curated items in a live setting and our shoppable content makes it even easier to seamlessly add to cart what you want from the live session.
- Solving for viewers’ desire to interact: M Live is a platform where you can interact with influencers in real time. The product is created with features that enable viewers to share emojis, comment with questions about the items, ask for styling and makeup tips and get them all addressed instantly. Viewers can learn from other viewer’s experience and knowledge-sharing as well through the live chat feature.
For Brands and Creators:
We are also committed to our ecosystem of brands and creators to ensure they remain ahead of the curve and evolve in their journeys alongside us. We have built a separate app for the creator side experience to empower influencers/brands with a seamless creation experience.
- Creators get the opportunity to partner with leading Indian and global lifestyle brands and vice versa. Live commerce is enabling creators to build a highly engaged fashion-loving follower base and also create meaningful monetization opportunities for themselves by partaking in the sales outcomes and creating measurable business impact. It will propel the rise of a different segment of creators who are relatable, engaging, and confident sellers.
- Brands are getting the opportunity to build a community with the largest fashion-forward customer base, better ROI for marketing monetization spends, and an avenue to build salience for new launches and collaborations
Building the blocks
M Live’s product journey has been rather fascinating. We take great pride in building an industry-first product like this; very few people choose to have their own livestream platform because of the tech complexity involved. Imagine someone sitting in a part of the country and just by the use of their phone, livestreaming to millions of users worldwide. The best part, we built this all ground up at Myntra by ourselves.
Most firms latch onto a 3rd party solution to power their use cases. We decided to build the entire tech in-house which allowed us to customize this in a number of ways, and have rich experiences & features built on the core live stream construct. We also picked a few open source pieces, rearchitected and added our code on top of them, to augment their capabilities.
It’s a video platform built to generate live streams and Video on Demand (VOD) content. We use WebRTC for the influencers, convert to and serve video through HLS. There are two apps, one for users and the other for influencers, both of which are built on React Native. The System is horizontally scalable and can run 12 live streams in parallel and can scale more if needed. The peak number of users we saw and was well supported on our platform was 100K during one of the celebrity live streams.
Chin up. Head down. Thinking hats on.
Overcoming Challenges faced
Great rewards come with great challenges. And to solve all of the challenges we would face, we required the full force of multiple teams coming together: the entire product team, tech, design, business, content, operations, and creator ecosystem. Each person in the team played an integral part to craft solutions to bring Myntra’s content commerce platform to life.
There are multiple pieces that we had to ideate and put together to create a seamless live streaming experience both for the consumers and the creators behind the scenes.
- Converging streaming + shopping – Creating a unified experience for live streaming video, social commerce and influencer-led shopping was a big challenge. A system that serves as an MVP and can be scaled to the huge Myntra user base – building for scale was challenging. We created modular components to provide reusability at scale for future.
- Tech complexity – Going after the unchartered territory of a giant beast of live streaming was not easy. There are only a handful of companies worldwide that have built a solution like this on their own. We wanted to provide a rich shopping experience for the consumers, while allowing us full control over the entire shopping experience, so we built this in-house. While it was complex, we have the in-house tech prowess to pull this off and scale as required.
- Maintaining video quality – Controlling the quality of live streaming was the biggest challenge as influencers run live streams from their own homes or workplaces, unlike a controlled studio environment, where nuances such as lightning, power drops, camera quality etc. are attended to. Knowing that the influencers will be using their mobile device, how do we ensure top quality? I mean, a lipstick shown by an influencer may not garner much attention if the color shows up differently on the user’s device. Filters, image processing, and various other features were added to enhance this experience for the shopper.
- Real time interactivity – The M Live product is such that influencers are asked questions in real-time and they respond to queries personalized to the discussion. We had to ensure there is no delay or lag felt at the user’s end to make the viewing experience as seamless as possible. We researched and selected the tech structure for least latency at each layer.
- Building the Creators side- This was a new challenge for us. Identifying influencers, onboarding and training them, creating guidelines, incentivisation programs, and coming up with a Myntra ecosystem of creators took patience and time. We wanted to provide the best product experience to the creators along with the consumers and we understood there were requirements specific to them. We collected influencers’ feedback, and after much deliberation, came up with a separate app for the creators. With this app in hand, they can schedule and go live, connect with their audience, and talk about their favourite products from anywhere in the country. .
- Bringing everything together – There was an array of challenges from an executional standpoint. We had to ensure product catalogues handpicked by the influencers had enough inventory of all sizes. Those products are sent to influencers before the scheduled M Live timeslot. We also had to look into organizing M Live events based on the influencers’ availability. When Creators want to practise before going live, we provide a dry run capability as part of the host app where they can set up their rooms, see the lighting and rehearse their lines. To make this future proof, we built a support group for influencers which helped everyone at every step and not just one influencer running the livestream.
We created a complete dashboard for the back-end admin team used for content moderation, creating/editing the dry-runs, events and running rest of the operations seamlessly.
‘Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there’ – Will Rogers
I definitely believe that Social Commerce is enabling a more confident decision making process among shoppers that is backed by social validation. Viewers are finding it more fun and engaging. Here are a few examples from consumers and creators on their experience.
It’s an uphill quest to build a shopping experience for our customers that can deepen our relationships with them – garner higher trust, become more inspirational, make it more immersive, and deeply engage with them. We have a strong belief that this experience empowers the consumers of tomorrow to consume content and experience a rich ecommerce platform at a pace well suited to their lifestyle and personalized preferences. We envision a day where this medium could account for the bulk of fashion purchases in most marketplaces.
At Myntra, it is our constant endeavour to democratize fashion and simplify the fashion buying experience by implementing cutting-edge innovations, offering a memorable shopping experience for our patrons. And Live Commerce is a leap in that direction!
We are just getting started and can’t wait to see where this takes us!
With inputs from:
Product Manager – Social Commerce