The D2C wave: How Direct-to-Consumer model has set off ripples in the Indian Retail landscape


Direct-to-Consumer model has emerged as a reprieve and rewarding choice for both consumers and retailers alike. Amidst the volatility brought forth by the pandemic, D2C has recorded an upsurge in terms of customer preference. We explore how the D2C model has seen a surge in India and how one can leverage the many benefits that it has to offer.

There has been a sea of changes lashing India’s retail landcape, with a colossal surge in online retail setting off a new dimension in terms of retail experience. With the call for social distancing and safety norms echoing across the industry, there has been a dramatic transformation in consumer behaviour and trends, with omnichannel selling practices and contactless delivery finding more preference.

Direct-to-Consumer selling (also known as D2C) is an emerging omnichannel trend among retailers across leisure and lifestyle, FMCG, electronics, furniture, household goods, etc to name a few. It has found consonance in the industry and a swift uptick in recent times.

Indian retail brands are leveraging the Direct-to-Consumer or D2C strategy like never before. By selling and delivering merchandise directly to consumers and doing away with middlemen such as third-party sellers, wholesalers, and retail outlets for distribution, India’s retail landscape has unleashed the many benefits and immense potential that D2C has to offer.

Notably, there has been a surge in Direct-to-Consumer selling among the top players, with brands like Healthkart, Lenskart, Licious, Zivame, Epigamia, BoAt, Wow Skin Science, Mamaearth, among others establishing a strong presence in the D2C arena, fulfilling customer demands in spite of the challenges thrown in by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This has also propelled traditional brands into entering this arena to meet customer expectations and swim along with the tide of the new normal.

Growing preference of Direct-to-Consumer

D2C is being embraced by customers and retailers alike because of the benefits that it offers. While customers are allowed more liberty to decide and interact, retailers can also exercise control over their revenues, ramp up the shipping speed and understand customer behaviour and make changes as per the tide.

There has been a 65% increase in brands developing their own website in India that has led to an increase in self-shipped orders, as per a report by Unicommerce, over the past year. At the same time, brand websites have witnessed 88% order volume growth compared to 32% for e-commerce marketplaces.

Facilitating a seamless D2C experience

What are the prerequisites to achieving successful fulfillment operations and positive customer experience in D2C retailing?

The first priority is a well-maintained web store with a sufficient inventory replete with a variety of choices, be it product catalogues, seasonal discounts or an overall inventory. Quality customer support is extremely essential in catering to customer expectations. This facilitated by a strong logistics infrastructure and a last-mile delivery system is a key differentiator among D2C sellers in this competitive landscape.

Putting up with logistical bottlenecks

A robust logistics system guarantees a seamless D2C experience, but for brands that may have to rely upon third-party transporters and shipping companies, their need for last-mile transparency is more pronounced. Coupled with shorter delivery timelines from e-commerce platforms, the demand for last-mile transparency and contactless delivery processes has seen a surge during these unprecedented times. Route optimisation can also be an effective tool in last-mile logistics technology to plan dispatches and delivery routes with high accuracy and minimum human handling.

Greater visibility across the supply chain is a must for D2C brands to be successful.

Additionally, fleet management tools are also of crucial importance as it allows logistics managers greater control over riders and delivery agents, for a seamless last-mile delivery experience.

As a fast-growing niche that will soon takeover the reins of the market, D2C has certainly changed the face of traditional retail experience.

With convenience surfacing as a crucial factor for driving customer behaviour, D2C will continue to demand more convenient shopping options from brands, even in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Amid such trends, the competition in the retail space will only level up in the days to come. Keeping up with the wave and ramping up the D2C space by relying more on technology will be the recipe to staying prepared and adapting to customer needs in the future.

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