By Shreyansh Bhandari and Upesh Verma
In this age of new normal when the traditional channels for all brands are being challenged almost every day, most brands have been quick to adapt and focus on acquiring customers through platforms that provide not only ease and convenience but also a safe environment for shopping. Lockdowns amidst the pandemic and the fear of stepping out resulted in a major shift in consumer behaviour which in turn forced B2C brands to reassess and modify their marketing strategies and reorganise their sales channels.
The pandemic had initially forced traditional shoppers to buy online; however, it’s become a viable and a regular option when they need to shop. Of course, the high internet penetration, low cost of data, ease and widespread acceptance of digital payments has only made it easier. As per McKinsey Insights, 10 years of growth was covered in just three months of 2020- E-commerce has replaced years of physical channels in just months.
As per a survey, 73% of Indian respondents are willing to spend more on convenience. The limitation of physical stores coupled with frequent and uncertain lockdowns have only added to the advantage of building brands online. 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalised experience. Brands are now able to serve customers across the country and provide a 24X7 shopping experience, boosted by the rise in the adoption of online payments and UPI. Contactless delivery and access to better offers are among the other benefits that brands have been able to offer to customers during these times. According to an E&Y report (E-commerce and Consumer Internet Sector India Trendbook- 2021), the online retail market is expected to grow from 25% to 37% of the organised retail market by 2030.
Traditionally offline focused brands from detergent powders to faucets have now started putting greater emphasis on their online strategies and spending more time and energy to put together a better brand store or build engaging A+ content. Some are even investing in their D2C websites to help drive sales, discovery and even brand visibility of their products. Brands are creating personalised online stores, adding enhanced branded content for their listings to connect with customers across the globe and the global Indian consumers. The pandemic has resulted in an evolution of how the brands want to reach out to consumers and brands are willing to experiment and even spend major marketing dollars on the vertical e-commerce companies in the beauty and fashion space and on the newly booming and interesting social commerce apps.
Internet-only or internet first brands have risen in the last 15 months
As per Nielsen India’s e-commerce consumer panel, there was a double rapid increase in the average spend of online shoppers for various categories. The story for us is no different- almost 20% of the brands in our portfolio are internet-only brands. Without exception, all the brands have increased their budgets on the e-commerce channels and around 40% of the budget is focused on the big sale events and the teaser campaigns leading to it. Even the D2C brands plan their sales and offers in line with the sale events on the e-commerce platforms to ride on the increased customer sentiment to buy online during this period.
Prime Days and Big Billion Days are now festivals in themselves. In fact, another trend that is catching up is brands creating their own brand shopping days and being ready to invest to build it as an IP. New launches, special categories or variants are launched online to cater to the growing appetite of customers to try something new.
E-commerce companies are collaborating with fintech players and even traditional banks to provide credit access and additional offers to further incentivise the customers to shop more.
In this frenzy of everyone listing their products online and having their own D2C website, brands should not forget the basics and ensure that they provide the customers with a great shopping experience. We see a lot of brands not having mobile-first websites, high loading time, poor images, and content. The consumer today is very impatient and with the slew of options that are available at literally a click of the button, will easily move to a different site or an app. The shopping experience is as important as the quality of the product, which comes to the second point where brands need to pay attention, reviews.
Brands today need to be on top of their customer feedback, be quick to reply to address customer queries and constantly keep evolving their products basis customer reviews. Before adding products to the cart or even buying offline, reading online reviews is now an important part of the buying journey of consumers.
We are living in exciting times and have a lot to look forward to. Our advice to brands will be to have a continuous and razor-sharp focus on the shopping experience and content if they need to capitalise on this new trend. Speaking of trends to watch out for in the next year, we are closely watching the live and social commerce space- while it has grown phenomenally, we seem to have barely scratched the surface.
The authors Shreyansh Bhandari is co-founder and COO of Lyxel&Flamingo and Upesh Verma is solutions architect, third party e-commerce solutions of Lyxel&Flamingo. Views expressed are personal.