“Thanks to platforms like Shopify and Facebook, it is now possible for a manufacturer, importer or anyone else who is developing or sourcing products to reach directly to consumers (D2C) in a few days. It is a pretty large market, and it is getting larger as we speak,” Saahil Goel, cofounder and CEO, Shiprocket.
Home to more than 800 D2C brands and catering to over 190 Mn online shoppers in CY2021, it is not surprising that the Indian D2C market is estimated to cross $100 Bn by 2025. The business model has taken the world by storm, helping companies survive the challenges of the pandemic and scale exponentially. Better still, it is changing the game for almost all businesses — new-age brands, early-stage startups and even the traditional behemoths.
Despite the apparent simplicity of a digital-first approach, the D2C journey often gets too complex too often. In truth, adopting new capabilities to double down on growth can never be easy as companies need to rethink strategy and develop an all-new playbook to get started. To deep dive into the workings of the burgeoning D2C sector and help its many adopters, Inc42 recently held a two-day D2C Summit. The event saw many storied names from the startup ecosystem support the cause and provide D2C brands with actionable insights to fast forward their journey.
The first day of the summit saw Shiprocket’s Saahil Goel take a masterclass on How To Get The First 1,000 Orders For Your D2C Brand.
Taking the audience through the basics of building and scaling a D2C brand, Goel’s session went on to reveal a systematic, step-by-step approach that companies should adopt to identify the essence of their operations and build on those activities.
According to him, the first step towards building any business is experimentation. “The beauty of adopting D2C is that you can get it wrong a few times and experiment. Today, the cost of launching is not very huge. So, you can try out different products, try selling, run marketing (campaigns) and see where things land.”
Here are the excerpts and insights from Goel’s session at The D2C Summit, hosted by Inc42 Plus and Shiprocket.Watch The Session Now
Finding The Right Product Or Niche
“Finding the right product niche is extremely important before you start to scale your business. You can start with a small market. Because look, India has got more than a billion people. So, if you can find a problem that is very specific to a certain segment, it is worth taking a shot,” explained Goel.
Then again, the pandemic has brought about some major changes. It is not just the shift in consumers’ buying behaviour, their preference to shop online. It has also created a need for brands to focus on interaction, storytelling and the value their products bring for bonding with their target audience. Given how closely brands are now associated with people and their perspectives, there are three ways an aspiring entrepreneur may choose the niche or the product:
- Go for products that solve a problem: Pick everyday categories that fulfil some need or deal with challenges faced by the consumer.
- Choose a passion project or ride on your strength: Pick categories that you are passionate about. Or if you have strong knowledge of something, focus on it.
- Hop on trends and track what’s working: Follow the market trends — what is working, what consumers prefer and why, which products are scaling fast in India and abroad. That will give you a fair idea of what people relate to or find interesting/attractive.
Once the category is final, entrepreneurs can dive deeper, innovate and put their own spin. While it is essential to figure out your focus category and audience, it is equally important to understand what will make the startup or the product unique in the market.
Determining your target audience and deciding on product sourcing would be the next set of priorities on the to-do list, said Goel. “As you think about your niche, you need to think about who is going to buy your product. You have to find your target customers and figure out what will motivate them to use your product.”
Saahil Goel, CEO of Shiprocket reveals the sure-shot mantra for D2C companies to reach their target consumer:
Selecting The Brand Name
The next part is about choosing a brand name. It is important to choose a name that customers can easily remember and pronounce. The name should also be unique as it aids brand recall. Choosing names that can be confused with other brands may cause the business to lose its customers.
“You should find what domain names are available instead of selecting a brand name first and then doing a Google search to see whether the domain is available and then settling for a different extension,” explained Goel.
Creating A Web Store
We live in a digitally advanced world where an online business can be created in a few weeks. Any up-and-coming brand can get help from enablers such as Shopify and WooCommerce and create an online store. While looking for the right platform to build the interface, brands should compile a list of features they would require for their product categories and match those with the shopping cart features available for implementation, said Goel.
Taking the audience through a web store and explaining the easiest and the best ways of accomplishing this task, he elaborated things further. “Many tools are now available in the market. You have Shopify, WooCommerce, and then there are others like Wix and OpenCart. As you know, we spent several years in the shopping cart market ourselves, and I think Wix is the simplest to use.”
A web store also defines a brand’s presence on social media, which is extremely important. An effective ‘social’ presence is the most critical part of marketing and promotion for brands.
“Besides your web store, it is essential to set up your brand profile on social platforms, which means setting up a brand page on Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp Business and more,” said Goel.
Especially in the D2C segment, it is imperative to ensure that the brand is socially present. In fact, it is all the more crucial when a brand is still in its early stages and cannot spend a lot of money on marketing. However, it can organically create the first set of customers through its social media channels.
“Basically, be present on social media and start talking about your brand. Think about what you are posting and make sure it is something that you really want to say. It should be inspiring; it should be something that people can connect with. And that is how you get your brand known,” — Shiprocket’s Goel.
Setting Up The Supply Chain
By this time, a brand should be ready to process its first order. Goel said that companies must have access to a well-planned supply chain before sales start to avoid order fulfilment issues. Also, one should keep in mind the following points while setting up a process for order fulfilment:
- Inventory management and pre-shipping preparations
- Selecting and integrating a shipping service that works best for the brand
- Post-shipping engagement with buyers to ensure a seamless and hassle-free experience
Catch all the sessions from the D2C Summit, from Goel’s masterclass to insights from FMCG leaders, from SUGAR founders’ experience to what the leading VCs from the startup ecosystem think about the road ahead, at The D2C Academy.Access The D2C Academy