Understanding the enabler ecosystem driving D2C growth stories

Quick commerce, micro fulfilment, and communication are set to be the key areas in focus, agreed panellists at a panel discussion organised as part of D2C Carwaan in Hyderabad.

The COVID-infused lockdowns were game changers in many ways, leading consumers to change their buying behaviour. More than marketplaces, Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands saw increased traction. With the ever-growing competitive market, brands are supported by full-scale solution providers, also known as enablers. The support is in terms of setting up shop online, leveraging technology to enhance the consumer experience, and more.

To discuss the role of enablers in driving D2C growth stories, the Brands of New India (BONI) community in association with Shiprocket organised D2C Carwaan in Hyderabad, to meet and explore D2C brands and understand their scale. The panel included Vishesh Khurana, Co-founder at Shiprocket; Amar Preet Singh, Co-founder and COO at Neeman's; Jatin Gujrati, Business Head, Vedix; and Kanthi Dutt, CEO, SustainKart.

The key enablers

Since the last four years, Neeman's has become synonymous with comfortable and sustainable footwear. Their primary goal has always been to spread awareness about sustainability with the help of community building and content. When they started out, people had several questions in mind regarding their stores and other aspects, but that’s exactly why they made it feature-oriented.

We explained how we make our products. Back then, we launched our flagship shoe made of merino wool, and we crafted content around it, and ensured that people understand sustainability. It became a content-driven and customer experience platform; we have built an experience around it. D2C is all about creating experience, said Amar Preet.

Adding to this, Jatin shared that they started their brand because they got data from the market. When they would put out other brands on certain media channels, they would receive all kinds of responses. The customer satisfaction rate was close to 30 percent, which reflected the inefficiency in the industry. During that time, they realised that a one-size-fits-all approach was being adopted for all skin concerns, which is what led to the inception of a customised skincare brand.

Ayurveda was a good fit, especially because it considers that everyone has a unique personality based on their dosha profile. That’s what makes it easy to customise; we brought in Ayurvedic experts, prepared long questionnaires, so that it helps to understand the kind of products that customers want to use. It is not only about the brand but we also deliver on the promise, he added, sharing that this is also what helps in customer retention rates.

He also spoke about how there is a need to have an ecosystem in the D2C space, not only to create new products, but at the same time, reach out to more customers. Over the years, there has been an emergence of several tech enablers, including subscription payments, payment gateways, websites, etc, but the most interesting piece is the distribution. This has helped brands to launch and scale faster.

The challenge conundrum

The D2C boom is here to stay, largely because of a behavioural shift that has been witnessed over the years. But like everything else, there are challenges. To begin with, logistic companies like Shiprocket are heavily dependent on on-ground operations provided to them by their supply chain partners. The demand is on the rise today, and companies are trying their best to ‘catch up’.

In India, there is a festival every single day, and the geographical spurts are not planned for. The infrastructure is still a problem; growth is dependent upon infrastructure and we are still on the path to improving that,shared Vishesh.

Like Neeman’s, SustainKart also faced issues in the initial stage; today, they have an e-commerce store but have also started launching brands with celebrity co-founders. Kanti credits the role of enablers in the fast-paced growth of D2C brands. Last mile delivery is critical today to ensure customer experience is top-notch, which is sometimes a huge challenge.

Powering the future of D2C brands

Vishesh believes that the shift toward prepaid orders will help scale D2C brands. The better the supply chain, the faster the deliveries will be, which is what customers demand today. Shopping from D2C brands is impulse buying, which is why it is not a good idea to drop the ball, with so many choices available today. Quick commerce, micro fulfilment, and communication will be the key areas in focus, going forward.

To end the discussion, Kanti shared that there is nothing more critical than honest communication to retain customers.


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