Shopping online has now become a necessity rather than a convenience. However, the pandemic-driven reality has put most online marketplaces to the test, uncovering new reasons for brands to rethink their digital strategies. Today, the average Indian spends more than one and a half hour on digital platforms and it’s estimated to surpass three hours by 2022. With digital stakes continually rising, there couldn’t be a better time for brands to consider going D2C (direct-to-consumer).
The Indian D2C opportunity
According to the IBEF, the Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow to $200 billion by 2026, thanks to growing internet and smartphone penetration. Furthermore, the country’s FDI policy allows foreign brands to sell online two years before setting up a physical store. This has given single-brand retail a major boost, with major firms like IKEA, Uniqlo, and Tommy Hilfiger launching online stores in the country.
From home-grown players like Ustraa and Mama Earth to international bigwigs like Nike and Casper, D2C as a model is picking up pace in India. With consumers increasingly going online to research and buy products, D2C gives brands a chance to build loyalty, cut out the middlemen, and increase margins. Besides, with stores and malls shut amid the lockdown, and marketplaces like Amazon restricting sales of non-essential items, more consumers will buy from brand websites.
However, the rules of the game are different in the digital world. Therefore, understanding the evolving dynamics of the online realm is key. Here are some key tips for brand manufacturers to succeed in their D2C efforts.
Determine value gaps and address them with content
When it comes to digital, content is the enabler that helps you go from a foot in the door to confident conversions. To ace this, you first need visibility into how your customers perceive your products. You need to ask yourself if you really know your customers’ needs, demands, and doubts – with regards to aspects like features, pricing, aftersales and beyond. Check if your content is answering such value gaps.
That’s not all. You’ll need to dig deeper into what your competitors are offering. What their strengths are, where do they fall short and how it can help you enhance your product’s positioning. Finding this sweet spot will help you craft your content that aligns with their needs and drives conversions.
Use product images effectively
With the average human attention span at eight seconds, it’s safe to say that visuals convince better than words. Yet if a product’s image is not set in the right context it does little to influence purchases. That’s why it’s vital to employ customer insights to understand the positive associations drawn with products in your category. Use these insights to create visuals that truly resonate with customers.
Another way to provide an unequaled visual experience is through rich media formats. Urban Ladder does this well by offering granular and interactive product views to increase customer purchase confidence. Consider 3D/ 360-degree product views, size or fit advice, videos, animations, or interactive images that explain specific product features. Such visually-represented product features go a long way in creating e-commerce experiences that drive conversions.
Partner with digital sales channels that offer quality customer experience
Listing your products across multiple digital channels besides your own website will help you expand your D2C reach in India. However, every brand stands for certain values; and customers who share this like-mindedness patronize them. Therefore, pick the ones that live up to your brand standards. A thorough due-diligence of these channels will be vital in identifying the platforms that will appeal to your audience and, more importantly, meet their experience expectations. To figure this you’ll need to ask questions like:
- Which of my products will appeal to this channel’s audience?
- How well does the website perform in terms of traffic, ease-of-use, checkout experience, and customer support?
- Does the platform offer a streamlined product onboarding process?
- What kind of support does the platform offer to deliver a smooth online shopping experience?
- Does the platform make it easy to update and enrich product content?
- Does the channel have effective policies to protect by brand from unauthorized sellers and counterfeiting?
Leverage social selling
Customers spend more than twice as much time on social media as they do on shopping or browsing other websites. 62% of people are likely or somewhat likely to purchase a product from a brand they follow on social media.
The benefit social media brings to D2C selling is that brands can customize their messaging and ads to efficiently target distinct demographics. This opens up a whole new paradigm to gain crucial insights that go beyond transactions and brands like Wow Skin Science India are leveraging it.
Social media platforms also allow you to run highly-targeted ads for better results and provide complete campaign performance data. Plus, with social media platforms doubling up as support services, marketers can directly connect with customers to obtain feedback or resolve customer queries.
Maintain brand consistency across all sales channels
68% of customers insist on a consistent brand experience regardless of the channel. As brands go increasingly digital, marketers and channel managers need to offer a seamless continuum of their brand experience across all touchpoints. This means having to monitor your brand across digital channels for inconsistencies in product content, pricing, among others. But not all e-commerce platforms are created equal. Each platform has its unique template and content requirements, which can further vary by product category. In India, D2C brands like Chumbak have aced this consistency benchmark; be it their own website, Facebook, or Amazon store.
For brands to be successful in their D2C efforts in India, obtaining and acting upon consumer preferences is imperative. They need to track industry trends and competitor actions to constantly re-align their strategies to meet emerging needs and expectations.
A strategic partner to some of the world’s largest brands Netscribes can help you accelerate digital commerce growth by providing actionable consumer insights and developing insight-driven marketing content. To know more, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org