By Prashant Bhadauria
The Indian market is eyed by brands for its quantum of demand and purchasing power that has grown consistently for years now. As per Kearney Research, India’s retail industry is projected to grow by 9% over 2019-2030, from US$ 779 billion in 2019 to US$ 1,407 billion by 2026. A major chunk of this rising retail expenditure can be attributed to the longest festive season in the last 2 quarters of the Indian calendar year, where shopping trends rapidly rise on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan, Dussehra, Diwali, Christmas, and New Year celebrations. This is a testament to the massive opportunity that lies ahead for D2C brands that can target this market, more so with online shopping and e-commerce penetrating Tier 1 & the majority of Tier 2 & 3 cities now.
After a 2-year-long pandemic, industry experts expect this to be India’s largest festive season in terms of shopping volumes and value. This might be the perfect time for consumer brands to leverage tech-enabled solutions to maximise their revenues. D2C brands in the post-pandemic era are dealing with 4 broad problem areas: Lead generation, conversion, reflecting on user flow & iterating the same for repeat conversions.
I recommend 4 respective suggestions for these pertinent business problems:
Generate leads via live chats
D2C is all about personalisation because the consumer is looking for solutions/products that are perfect for them. This ability to customise their product can be an advantage for all D2C brands, which can be leveraged by engaging website users. Chatbots & live chat tools can unlock sales that brands often don’t account for. Automation is needed since it is difficult for agents to engage with each lead personally when traffic is coming from so many different channels.
One way to personalise your platform for your users would be to create your version of a “Size Chart” that helps users navigate through questions and doubts about your product. The query response rate on your website has a significant impact on conversion rates. You may communicate with consumers immediately and with greater freedom by using chatbots and live messaging. Live chatbot tools also make it possible to have numerous discussions going at once. Offering personalization while maintaining speed and conversion rates is the ideal answer. Niche personal care brands like Bare Anatomy and Vedix have started using their live chat to collect consumer data as well as customisations.
Convert with one-click checkouts
More than 700 million Indian consumers are engaging with D2C brands through ads, purchases, discovery, etc. on mobile devices as confirmed by Fortune. Cellular penetration is close to 100% in India and we are expected to have 1 billion smartphone users by 2026 (Deloitte report). With the internet becoming a necessary commodity, becoming mobile-friendly is key for growing D2C products. This includes mobile-friendly ads, websites, applications, emails, push notifications, etc. that can translate into a higher conversion. In addition to that, it is important to optimise the most important step of the consumer journey for the business, i.e. the checkout process.
Through deep integration with UPI (Unified Payments Interface), brands can shorten the checkout process as well as make it convenient for users to conclude their purchases. Leading credit cards & payment gateways also offer one-click checkouts. Minimising the size of your consumer journey can automatically maximise conversions. Many quick commerce applications like Blinkit and Dunzo are already functional with deep integration with leading UPI platforms and this can be a great example for D2C brands.
Reflect through contextual insights
Often brands struggle with defining success metrics because they don’t know all the variables that can help in maximising growth. A North Star metric helps in identifying the variable(s) which need to be maximised to ensure growth. For instance, subscription-based products would chase the number of sign-ups as their success metric. Collecting a wide array of data points can be fruitful for the long term because brands can measure their primary, secondary and tertiary targets along with their performance against each. AI integration helps with insights that can be used to generate recommendations. These recommendations can help brands optimise their platform (website or application), understand drop-off points, and maximise value for platform traffic, ultimately building a more robust platform with awareness of user drop-offs and behavioural trends.
Storing this data before brands develop the infrastructure to harness it, can also be helpful because there are 3rd party platforms and analytics tools that can help D2C brands build this capability. For example, B2B partners are providing last-mile warehouse management services to help brands build a loyal user base. Loyalty is highly guaranteed after optimising shipping predictability for the last mile. Delivery timelines are a major deciding factor in establishing a competitive advantage among a sea of D2C brands.
Repeat sales through a guided experience
Personalisation is a two-way street. While brands are very active in personalising the discovery and sale stage of the product, the post-purchase experience is a blue ocean for D2C brands. Data-driven messaging at all stages of the transaction builds higher recall value and brand affinity for D2C products. All modern products in the D2C space are trying to solve user problems and the opportunity lies in establishing a feedback channel with your consumer. D2C brands can build a guide-based experience where the consumer can use your curated content to derive maximum value out of the product at hand.
Brands in categories like food & beverages, wellness & health, consumer applications, etc. can build guides around recommended use cases, product combinations, and tips to make the most out of your product. For example, a curated flour brand can develop recipes and dishes based on the dietary restrictions of its users to keep customers engaged after they have purchased. Time-sensitive milestones can be tracked based on sales data like feedback on website experience 1 week after purchase, feedback on product experience 1 month after purchase, feedback on recipe recommendations 3 months after purchase, etc. A good example of this would be the American cocktail mixer brand Mujen. Post-purchase, consumers often get mixing suggestions for unique drinks and they also get access to mixology guides for different occasions.
Data-driven decision-making is essential for success in the D2C sector since it is becoming fiercely competitive. A D2C brand can forecast and comprehend target market purchasing behaviour, trends, and future activity through the use of predictive and prescriptive analytics supported by AI and Machine Learning. The consumer receives exactly what they expect to discover on the website, which enhances brand recall and consumer retention. Any brand has a universe of potential and can grow tremendously with the proper blending of technology and business disciplines. Talk about a ripple effect!
(The author is vice president of data, tech and product at Klub. Views are personal.)