Flipkart's fashion unit Myntra bets on artificial intelligence to drive growth
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The logo of India's largest online marketplace Flipkart is seen on a building in Bengaluru, India, April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa/File Photo
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By Sankalp Phartiyal and Tanvi Mehta
MUMBAI/BENGALURU (Reuters) - Fashion portal Myntra, part of India's top e-commerce group Flipkart, aims to use smart technology such as artificial intelligence to enhance consumer experience as it looks to drive growth and turn profitable in the next fiscal year.
India's e-commerce market is forecast to grow to $188 billion in a decade as more and more of its 1.2 billion people log on to smartphones and PCs in the world's fastest-growing internet services market.
Players such as Flipkart and Myntra took a page out of Amazon's playbook to offer cash-burning discounts when they launched in 2007 but are now increasingly tailoring their products and experiences to capture a burgeoning Indian market.
Enhancing the consumer experience through technology is key to driving long-term growth, Ambarish Kenghe, Myntra's head of product told Reuters in a telephone interview on Thursday.
"This is a little bit like a (cricket) test match - you stay on the pitch and the runs will come," Kenghe said.
"Create great consumer experiences and things will move."
Bengaluru-based Myntra, which was acquired by Flipkart in 2014, is using customer data to create personalized stores, and curating clothing lines based on fashion trends.
"We are investing a lot in machine learning and AI," said Ajit Narayanan, Myntra's chief technology officer.
"We precisely know how consumers behave, we precisely know what kind of products sell."
Myntra will also launch a mobile app-based chat support service for customers next week to enable users and brands listed on the portal to interact, helping personalize the experience for shoppers.
Most innovation will trickle down from the app to the desktop as the mobile phone is the firm's primary business channel, contributing about 80-85 percent to revenues, Narayanan said.
Myntra executives said the company expects to turn profitable in the fiscal year 2017-18 and was aiming to double its annualized gross merchandise value (GMV) to $2 billion by March 2018, from an annualized $1 billion currently.
The company declined to share the actual revenue number.
Earlier in 2016, Myntra bought rival Jabong for $70 million to create India's largest online fashion retailer.
Myntra, Jabong and Flipkart together account for 70 percent of the online fashion market in India.
(Editing by Keith Weir)
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