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Going direct, going digital

During challenging times, brands are adopting direct to customer marketing strategies without relying much on the traditional outlets

There has been a sharp growth for the direct to the consumer (D2C) brands during the pandemic as consumers' needs have evolved. Homegrown D2C brands have not only accelerated their presence in the domestic markets but have also started making plans to disrupt product categories in the international market.

India has around 800 homegrown D2C brands and their business in the next five years are expected to touch a figure of $100 billion. To discuss these trends, The Economic Times & Pickrr organized a virtual round table discussion- Going Direct- to- Customer- Future of Consumer Engagement where some of the eminent industry representatives participated.

Direct interaction with the customers now

Earlier, the D2C brands made their presence felt on the platform of several eCommerce companies and are now growing by using their own infrastructure without any middlemen.

Gaurav Mangla, CEO and Co- founder, Pickrr explained that there is more end-to-end customer engagement now.

“The turnover of things is done very quickly for the D2C brands. There are lot of services like tech enablement, pre-checkout experience, post-checkout experience, which is knowing what the customer wants eventually,” Mangla pointed out.

He also stated that almost 20 percent of the eCommerce business is from the D2C brands today and is expected to be around 46 percent by the year 2026.

Changing the consumer experience

Vedang Patel, Co-founder & Director, The Souled Store explained that during the pandemic 90 percent of the D2C brands grew because they were using their own platform.

“There is a consumer shift in the way people are purchasing. They may not want what a big FMCG players is offering and may want what a smaller player is giving. That unique requirement what the consumer want is the reason why D2C exist,” he said.

Broader ecosystem for D2C

Aarti Gill, Co-founder & CEO, OZiva explained that there is a need to invest in the education of the customer base. “There is a need to understand the consumer, being digital first. It gives you a lot of data points for the different solutions that can be relevant. Its not just about selling product today, you can also have very deep conversations with your consumers,” Gill said.

She added that the data points that you get from the digital interaction helps you develop a personalised product. Being digital gives you the ability to interact with the customers. “But this is just the start. If you must build a scaled- up brand, you need to go multichannel,” she said.

While it is important to acquire a consumer, it is also important to retain him and hence brands are laying a lot of emphasis on the post purchase experience.

Kapil Makhija, CEO, Unicommerce stated that most of the brands have invested in technology to ensure the post purchase experience for the consumer to help retain a customer.

“Today acquiring a customer has become very expensive as you need to depend on a lot of factors to get traffic on your website. Once you have given a post purchase experience, you are able to build a sustainable brand,” Makhija said.

Ensuring constant engagement

Brands are also engaging the customer on various touch points to help resolve consumer problem and retaining them.

Dhruv Madhok, Co-founder, Arata stated that there are so many channels through which the brands can stay in touch with their customers.

“Being pro-active and getting feedback helps the brand build their customer database. The brand needs to feel happy if the customers writes back because those can be converted 

into actionable,” he informed.

Constantly evolving market

There are several tools that would help D2C brands grow, however it is equally important to identify the right tools.

Shankar Prasad, CEO & Founder, Plum explained that shifting your data becomes a problem if you have not selected the right set of tools for your company. “You also need to empower your customer support team, and make them the centre of what you do,” he added.