The pandemic induced by Covid-19 has had a lot of impact on the world and on industries across the world – some too bad, some bearable, and some good. One such change that the overall retail segment experienced recently has been the revival and rise of the D2C business model. The growth story of this segment in the country is connected to the rising preference of consumers in the Covid era towards shopping directly from the makers through online mediums. This shift has not only brought to the fore start-ups operating with the D2C model but many traditional brands too have now shifted to the D2C model to cater to the new normal.
The adoption of this new trend and the growing sales in the category has also caught the attention of investors and Lightbox Ventures and DSG Consumer Partners are two active investors who are most bullish on the D2C brands. With over 500 brands and counting, now riding the D2C wave in India, the business model is slated for tremendous growth in the times to come. Furthermore, unlike much other geography, D2C in India is decidedly omnichannel and even as brands are looking to drive sales and traffic to their native websites, they continue to sell on marketplaces and other retail channels, in order to attract many buyers unfamiliar with the brand.
In the D2C space, fashion has emerged as the most funded category with 57 unique brands raising US$ 836.1 million from 2014 to Q3 2020. Also, it is estimated that the apparel and footwear category is expected to dominate the D2C fashion market with a contribution of around 77.1 percent by 2025. The category has raised the highest funding of US$ 756 million among all D2C segments in India, followed by FMCG & Home Decor.
What’s really facilitating this growth is fashion D2C brands’ focus on sustainability, technology integration (AI, AR/VR, and more), personalized offering and services, omnichannel business model, social awareness, and leveraging influencer and social media marketing, among other things.
One such brand that’s riding this wave and has deployed a phygital strategy to reach out to more consumers across India, is Raisin. The brand, launched in 2018 by brothers Vikash and Vishal Pacheriwal, is a contemporary fusion fashion brand that aims to offer women the perfect mix of comfort and style. The duo has had 30 years of experience running a fabric company in Surat, Gujarat and they decided to channelize this by creating an ethnic, modern brand for the woman of today. Vikash and Vishal Pacheriwal invested Rs 7.5 crore into Raisin. Today, Raisin has 2.4 lakh customers and Bollywood actor Bhumi Pednekar as the face of the brand.
The D2C Element
Raisin’s co-founders focused on a three-pronged strategy – launching an e-commerce website for their D2C brand, entering in over 120 shop-in-shop stores in malls and high-streets along with getting listed on Amazon, in order to reach more customer base as quickly as it could have been.
“The D2C segment has always been appreciated because the customers believe that they get the right products at the right price. We, at Raisin, believe in the quid pro quo wherein the customers are not charged immoderately. Through D2C, the customers are all the more satisfied by the quality of the products, as the products are delivered directly from the manufacturers to the customers. This also ensures that the customers get the product at the right time. The quality of the fabric, the cost of it, and also the delivery time, when kept in check, makes a company touch the peak of success as is the case with Raisin. This has made Raisin get a fairly greater advantage over the other companies over all these years,” maintains Vishal Pacheriwal, Co-founder, Raisin.
The duo has had over 30 years of business experience in manufacturing and they envisioned Raisin to reach directly to the consumers with premium quality products and to ensure that there is greater transparency in the garment-making process along with great pricing. While operating under the D2C model is working out great for the fusion womenswear brand,
Vishal Pacheriwal asserts, “We go by three basic guidelines in order to stay true to our consumers. Firstly, transparency lets our consumers get what they see and we maintain absolute transparency between what is portrayed and what the customer receives. The second is offering products at the right pricing. And third is building the brand value. We aim to provide women with traditional ethnic wear with modern designs and comfortable cuts, patterns, and fabrics and are working towards representing the woman of today.”
Raisin has stayed in touch with its consumer base throughout the pandemic through various digital platforms and has stayed on its foot to keep servicing them by reshaping its strategies to fit the situation and the current times.
What’s Running the Engines?
Besides a range of products that are on par with the quality and design standards that today’s women are looking for in the category, what’s helping Raisin is building a strong connection with the consumer that’s leading to higher growth.
Fashion brands today are going overboard and are using data analytics tools that are helping them sell more by leveraging consumer buying patterns and preferences, collect feedback to iterate on products, and create a strategy to offer a seamless consumer experience. Also, the presence of e-commerce software providers such as Shopify, Wix, Woocommerce, etc. have made this process as easy as possible and this is helping the new online stores taste success.
Raisin retails through 220+ MBOs and 5+ EBOs across the country and 65 percent of its sales come from the offline channels while the remaining 35 percent comes through online mediums. With vast industry experience and knowledge, the founders pride in having a good insight into consumer behavior and market trends.
Vishal Pacheriwal avers, “We have witnessed a growth of 17 percent from our digital sales last year. For us, a good customer experience is our top priority. Since the inception of Raisin, we have provided the customers exactly what they wanted to have in their everyday clothing items. People look for styles that meld well with their preferences and trending choices, quality of materials, and durability of products. This sets us apart from the rest. We have been working on the suggestions given by our customers to provide what they truly wanted. We made sure that the customer feedback is taken seriously and is acted upon briskly. We have been successful in those terms and that is why we have a steady increase in sales year after year. We, at Raisin, have a strong network to make sure that the queries of the customers are resolved at the earliest. We are absolutely transparent when it comes to our services. When the customers receive a quick response, they come back for more.”
Furthermore, association with influencers and celebrities like Bhumi Pednekar has also given Raisin an advantage over the others. Manufacturing everything in-house has also worked in favor of the brand since it enables them to check off all the boxes of its quality parameters.
“We make our own weaves and manufacture the fabrics also. We have a design team that decides upon the silhouettes and takes care of the creative designing part. By managing everything internally, we make sure that the quality of the product is in line with the brand ethos,” Vishal Pacheriwal adds.
Challenges and Way Ahead
While the pandemic did impact the womenswear brand immensely, Raisin worked towards strategies to navigate through them and kept engaging with its customer base through digital channels and through social media platforms. The brand registered a turnover of Rs 75 crore this fiscal year with a customer base of 2.5 lakh.
“Going forward, we aim to step into the different segments of women's clothing when it comes to product assortment. Talking about the retail presence, we plan to have 450+ stores by March 2022, 20 more pan India. Another major milestone will be the launch of our jewelry collection. We want to make Raisin a one-stop destination for all fashion enthusiasts and shoppers,” Vishal concludes.
Raisin is in competition with established ethnic wear brands like W, Biba, Imara, and others, and given the market potential and strategies on which the brand is operating, Raisin is clearly in the right place at the right time.