Owning the entire end customer relationship is a dream come true for any consumer brand. The direct-to-consumer (D2C) route enables brands to communicate directly with their customers, get actionable feedback on products and services, do away with multiple intermediaries and enjoy higher margins.
As good as it sounds, owning up the entire customer relationship is not easy, and comes with its own set of challenges!
Delivering a consistent shopping experience to online customers requires D2C brands to develop capabilities around e-commerce technology, logistics, and payment infrastructure. Today’s online shoppers not only want a high-quality product but also a delightful purchase, delivery and returns experience. Building these capabilities is a tall order for any brand because this is not their core competence or focus area, and needs a specialist approach requiring the significant deployment of capital and resources.
Until a few years ago, it was a real challenge for D2C brands to enable 1-2 day deliveries, set up a high-quality online brand store, and offer other services like subscription and BNPL (buy now, pay later). With a large number of businesses going online and a rise in the number of D2C brands, the e-commerce enabler ecosystem has also evolved quickly and most of these services can now be availed on a pay-per-use basis, enabling brands to focus on what matters most to them i.e. building best quality products and acquiring new customers.
Warehousing as a Service (WaaS)
D2C brands often strive to be closest to their customers to serve them in the fastest possible way. But it is not possible for young and upcoming brands to set up warehouses across the country. Also, setting up a warehousing facility is capital and time-intensive. The shared economy innovation has also hit the traditional warehousing businesses. Today, brands can easily expand their footprint pan-India through WaaS providers who offer easy-to-operationalize warehouses on a pay-per-use basis. Such warehouses can be operationalized as early as 72 hours, after complying with regulatory formalities.
After creating their online store, brands also need a technology stack for integrating with other marketplaces and service providers like freight and payment gateway partners. There are ready-to-use, software as a service (SaaS) Order Management Systems, and Warehouse Management Systems available that can enable D2C e-commerce in a fast and affordable manner.
Managing shipping in an ecosystem with high returns rates and a large number of cash-on-delivery (COD) orders is very challenging for any D2C brand. Also, with e-commerce penetrating the interiors of the country, it is impossible to rely on just one shipping provider to serve the entire customer base. Brands need a partner that can help them serve a wide customer base and handle the complexities of returns, CODs, etc. D2C brands can now easily leverage e-commerce shipping enablers to navigate this complexity.
Access to Increasing Number of Marketplaces
In order to grow online, brands want to be available on as many e-commerce platforms as possible. But there are more than 20 horizontal, vertical, social, and hyperlocal platforms and it is getting harder for brands to be present on so many demand channels. For D2C brands to get listed on a new platform, it requires them to navigate through several complexities, such as finding out and connecting with the category team, understanding the commercial structure, aligning logistics, integrating with technology systems, etc. This is a long drawn process that can take weeks or even months.
To deal with this problem, emerging e-commerce enablers offer a one-stop solution. A brand now needs to interact with only one partner, which will take care of its entire go-to-market needs.
Growing online is quite different from being online! Brands need access to actionable insights to make critical decisions like pricing, marketing strategy, stocking points, stocking levels, etc. to grow their customer base and reduce the cost of customer acquisition. This is an emerging area, and e-commerce enablers offer SaaS platforms for such insights.
End-to-End e-Ecommerce Enablers
E-commerce enablers like Prozo provide all these integrated, end-to-end technology-driven solutions. This is turning out to be a game-changer in increasing revenues, enhancing profitability and customer experience for any D2C brand. With a booming e-commerce market and ever-changing consumer preferences, the time is right for brands to optimize their supply chain infrastructure to win in this market.