ITC plans to upgrade e-store as it competes with FMCG giants and D2C brands to win online shoppers

Kolkata-based ITC Ltd adds a customisation option to its D2C website as FMCG biggies, including Tata Consumer and Marico, strengthen their digital presence and D2C brands continue to hold sway.
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ITC Ltd is planning to launch a customisation feature on the ITC e-store, the Kolkata-based conglomerate’s direct-to-consumer (D2C) platform launched last year to keep up with the surge in online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The cigarette maker is in the initial stages of testing the workings of the feature, which could be rolled out in the next six months. It will be launched with Aashirwaad Atta, one of ITC’s top-selling products.

The feature essentially enables consumers to choose the kind of flour they want, and lets them change proportions. For instance, if a consumer wants their flour to be ground a bit 'coarse' or wants to have multi-grain flour with more ragi, this feature will allow this to happen. The customised atta will then be delivered to their doorstep. 

“In my growing up years, I was asked to get wheat flour from the local vendor, my mother gave me specific instructions about how she preferred the wheat flour blend to be. India has grown up to consuming their atta in a personalised manner, that best suits the taste preferences of their respective households," Shuvadip Banerjee, Vice President, Marketing Services, Foods Division, ITC Ltd., tells YourStory over a call.

"At ITC, our constant endeavour is to enliven these age-old practices through our offerings, wherever relevant,” Shuvadip says. 

ITC first piloted its ecommerce store, among employees, in 2019 and later rolled the store in October 2020. The company partnered with micro delivery platform Dunzo, and grocery seller Bigbasket (now acquired by Tata Digital), among others to supply sanitisers and other grocery essentials. The company also launched more than 120 new SKUs during FY21. 

The conglomerate’s ecommerce FMCG sales doubled in the quarter ended March 31, 2021, reaching close to 5 percent while retail channels stayed under stress.   

Targeting online customers

In 2020, consumer shopping habits saw a stark shift. Many could not step out of their homes due to strict lockdowns, which forced them to shop through online channels. Having a strong digital presence was not a choice anymore.

It was a necessity.  

Online shoppers started discovering new brands, which benefited many D2C startups. Sugar Cosmetics, a Mumbai-based cosmetic brand founded in 2015, saw its highest sales in November 2020 while baby and mother care brand MamaEarth reached a valuation of $300 million after reaching a revenue run rate of Rs 700 crore.

 

Fast-moving consumer goods giants Hindustan Unilever, Tata Consumer Pvt Ltd (TCPL), and Marico, among others, also started focusing heavily on online channels as FMCG biggies vied with D2C brands to win at-home consumers amid changing the shopping behaviour

TCPL’s newly appointed MD and CEO Sunil D’souza converted “knowledge platform” NutriKorner into an online shopping site  and started deliveries in two cities. The company also launched premium coffee brand Sonnet to attract online customers and plans to launch many more products for digital shoppers in the coming months. 

Marico, meanwhile, has been acquiring D2C brands across different categories, latest being its 60 percent stake acquisition in Apcos Naturals, owner of ayurvedic beauty brand Just Herbs. 

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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