D2C brands ride perception shift in India's online buying behaviour

There is greater trust in buying online since the onset of the pandemic, said Gautam Kshatriya, Co-founder of Upscalio, during a TechSparks 2021 discussion on D2C disruption.
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There has been a positive shift in perception about buying online in India since the onset of the pandemic, said Gautam Kshatriya, Co-founder and CEO of Upscalio, on day 5 of TechSparks 2021, India's most influential startup-tech conference hosted by YourStory.

With the theme 'What's Next: Rethinking the future'TechSparks 2021 is providing a platform for the most defining conversations on how disruptive technology innovations can shape our lives post-pandemic.

"More consumers have taken to the variety and price-points that are part of online shopping, and have greater trust in it than before the pandemic," Gautam said, during a panel-discussion on 'D2C Disruption: Balancing growth and profitability'.

The discussion, moderated by Dipti Nair, Editor At Large, YourStory, also featured Avinash Dhagat, Head of Supply Chain, MamaEarth, Kapil Makhija, CEO of Unicommerce, and Gaurav Khatri, Founder and CEO of GoNoise.com.

In the past three years, D2C companies, such as Mamaearth, Noise, and Pepperfry, have built a loyal customer base. "The convenience that consumers are getting by buying online is accelerating the push," said Avinash Dhagat of MamaEarth. “That is essentially a habit-changing exercise.”

Kapil Makhija of Unicommerce said that website volumes of D2C brands are increasing significantly, compared to the volumes of ecommerce aggregators.

Website volumes are growing at three times the volumes of marketplaces,” he explained. “We first thought it could be pent-up demand after the lockdowns, and that consumers would return to marketplaces. But, this has been a consistent trend over the past 18 months.”

Gaurav Khatri of GoNoise.com said websites of D2C brands have evolved beyond being just a transacting platform. They now showcase the experience of what their brands stands for.

At the same time, new products emanate from customer engagement, he added. GoNoise, which designs and markets electronic products and accessories, has launched as many as eight products based on customer feedback in the past year.

That's why D2C brands actively engage with customers on social media.

Another big shift is the emergence of niche categories, Kapil said. Before the pandemic, there were categories like personal care, health products, and nutraceuticals. But in the past year, each of these categories have begun to have niches that attract customers.

"This has given D2C brands the confidence to personalise offerings for different sets of consumers," he noted.

“Marketing is going to drive a lot of challenges around unit economics,” said Gautam of Upscalio, which invests and partners with emerging brands to grow business online.

Avinash of MamaEarth concurred, saying that supply-chain efficiencies will prove to be critical to meet demand in periods like the festive season, and for better use of working capital.

What D2C brands have done really well, Kapil said, is to be agile and technology-savvy at a time when large FMCG companies can't be nimble to fulfil niche opportunities. "That's why larger FMCG players like Marico and Emami are investing in the D2C space: to learn how to fulfil digital demand, and grow."


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For a line-up of all the action-packed sessions at YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, check out TechSparks 2021 website.

Edited by Kunal Talgeri