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X’s Ashwini Asokan On Why Going AI-Native Should Be D2C’s Big Bet For Growth’s Ashwini Asokan On Why Going AI-Native Should Be D2C’s Big Bet For Growth

Inc42 hosted Ashwini Asokan, founder and CEO of, on the second day of The D2C Summit 2021

During her masterclass, Asokan explained how AI use cases address specific business requirements and impact outcomes

Check out some excerpts and highlights from the session

This article is part of The D2C Summit by Inc42 Plus and Shiprocket, India’s largest D2C and ecommerce conference scheduled for 17th-18th July 2021. Click here to know more.

“At the end of the day, be it recommendations, search or marketing, there are tools that allow you to make a certain set of decisions, perform a certain set of things to make some kind of impact on your direct-to-consumer (D2C) business. And AI is what sits behind that,” Ashwini Asokan, founder and CEO,

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is bringing about seismic changes in business and technology, driving intelligent production and new offerings while simplifying all systems and processes. In fact, AI-powered and machine learning (ML)-driven solutions now support the entire business pipeline, from discovery and dialogues to transactions and fulfilment.

Navigating today’s turbulent economy is no mean task, and leveraging AI is crucial for organisations of all sizes — both big enterprises and MSMEs — to ensure scaling up, smart decision-making and optimum outcomes.’s Asokan believes, that similar to the revolution brought about by cloud computing in the 1960s and pursued by Google in 2006, businesses today are moving beyond cloud- and mobile-native worlds and foraying into an AI-native universe.

Asokan also chose this topic for her masterclass at the recently concluded D2C Summit 2021,  hosted by Inc42 and Shiprocket. In the session titled Why Going AI-Native Should Be D2C’s Big Bet For Growth, she took her audience through many AI use cases and explained how they fulfilled specific business requirements and impacted outcomes.

“We’re just around that point where AI adoption in retail is moving towards scale. A year or 2 & you’re late, your competitors got there already. It’s not just about digital anymore, it’s about being AI-native,” tweeted Asokan after the session.

Watch The Session Now. . .

Globally, the rapid integration of AI across sectors is transforming how things are done. In a world that is driven by data and actionable insights, growing or scaling a business without AI is no longer possible. New research commissioned by IBM, in collaboration with data intelligence company Morning Consult, reveals that nearly one-third of IT professionals today are using AI. Also, 50% of the IT professionals say their companies are now exploring AI, driven by continuous repercussions of the pandemic, business requirements and the need for easy tech accessibility.’s Ashwini Asokan On Why Going AI-Native Should Be D2C’s Big Bet For Growth

There is no denying that AI comes with many benefits for brands across sectors, but Asokan compared it to a Swiss Army knife for the retail sector. The two most significant functions of AI transforming the retail space include: 

  • Revenue growth is enabled by building and increasing conversion, relevance and targeting the right people with the right messages through the right channels and more
  • Efficiency building by bringing down returns and exchanges and reducing errors such as giving out wrong information regarding availability, delivery time and more

Here are some excerpts, highlights and insights from the session.

Build Data Moats For Customer Targeting

“The very first step in this AI journey is to understand what you are doing in the grand scheme of things is implementing data moats. Data, by itself, is not a moat. Data is only a moat when you do something with it, and it is very important to start building the moats to scale,” explained Asokan.’s Ashwini Asokan On Why Going AI-Native Should Be D2C’s Big Bet For Growth

When it comes to D2C business, the timing is critical. A brand needs to understand its shoppers when they are on the site at any given time. These data moats help a brand with that by connecting inventory data with user behaviour. 

Consider this. If a person on the site is browsing vegan products, AI recognises the product preference and comes up with similar items to help the prospect. In addition, the brand in question can align its site, home page, product pages, email messages and other business tools for a more focussed engagement with the user. 

According to Asokan, this will help trigger the brand’s growth across sales channels. Also, based on the data, a brand can look at the entire set of channels and assets it has and push the customer’s preference everywhere at any given point in time.

Improve Performance Marketing

While metrics such as conversion rate, average order value (AoV) and cart abandonment are important, D2C brands should focus more on the reasons behind these numbers, said Asokan.

Regardless of the brand category and the target market, companies should set up business-specific goals for every single quarter and then experiment with all available tools. That is how AI can help with performance marketing. 

“Think of the variables, the different channels, the different pages on your website and all the money you are spending on ad campaigns, discounting engines and more. You have so many different levers, but how do you know when and what to change? How do you come up with a thesis and then experiment with it quarter after quarter? That is something AI enables for brands,” added Asokan.

Increase Conversion From Existing Customers’s Ashwini Asokan On Why Going AI-Native Should Be D2C’s Big Bet For Growth

The next important thing is to leverage AI to increase customer revisits and lifetime value and reduce the number of cart abandoners, which will lead to revenue growth. Utilising AI will enable D2C brands to personalise email marketing, notifications and purchase cycles, among other things, to achieve the same.

“Figure out how to reduce the number of times people abandon your cart. Even if you reduce it by 10% at a time, you will see an increase in revenue,” said Asokan.

Catch all the insights and knowledge shared at the D2C Summit 2021 — right from what Asokan conveyed at her masterclass to learnings from sessions that hosted popular brands such as FirstCry, Lenskart, Baggit and more. You will find it all at The D2C Academy.

Explore The D2C Academy Now

This article is part of The D2C Summit by Inc42 Plus and Shiprocket, India's largest D2C and ecommerce conference scheduled for 17th-18th July 2021. Supported by WebEngage, Shipway, PayU, Delhivery, MoEngage, Trell, Akamai, Velocity, Gupshup, GreenHonchos, Vue, Razorpay, and AWS, the conference will bring together 1,000+ folks at the forefront of India's D2C revolution! Click here to know more.